Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes the sufferer to experience repeated bouts of shallow breathing or interrupted breathing throughout the night. These breathing disturbances interrupt the sleep cycle and make it difficult for sleep apnea patients to get a restful night’s sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure is the most common treatment for this disorder. A sleep apnea machine uses air pressure to keep the airways open and prevent shallow breathing or interruptions in breathing. Since everyone has different needs, the best sleep apnea machine for you will depend on a combination of factors.
One of the most important considerations when buying a CPAP machine or BiPAP machine is making sure your insurance covers the unit. These machines cost a considerable amount of money, so talking to an insurance representative can help you narrow down your choices. Most plans cover these machines because they are considered “durable medical equipment,” but your plan may have different provisions. Some insurance companies may only cover a certain portion of the sleep apnea machine cost, leaving you to pay the difference.
Testing a Sleep Apnea Machine
Before buying a machine outright, always rent your favorite model and try it out for a few weeks. Your medical equipment supplier may allow you to rent the machine and apply your rental payments toward the cost of purchasing the unit. Testing the machine for several weeks gives you the opportunity to make sure it works properly and has all of the features you want. Taking this opportunity can help you avoid purchasing a costly machine that does not work as it should.
CPAP Machine Features
Before shopping for a CPAP machine, talk with your doctor about the features you will need. A sleep specialist or other medical professional will be able to guide you in choosing a machine that has the right amount of pressure and humidity for your needs. Some features are designed specifically for your comfort, so keep your sleep habits and lifestyle in mind when selecting a machine. These are some of the most important features to consider when buying a CPAP machine.
Sound Level: Sleep apnea machines do produce some noise when they are turned on. If you are a light sleeper, look for a machine that has all the features you need at the lowest noise level. Some machines, like the Philips Respironics line, have a noise level of 29 decibels. Machines from DeVilbiss, however, have noise levels of only 26 decibels.
Size: Your lifestyle and living situation will help determine what size machine to choose. If you frequently travel for business or pleasure, you will not want to purchase a bulky machine that takes up a lot of room. You’ll want something that is lightweight and easy to carry. Some machines weigh less than one pound, making them easy to transport. Remember that all the components of the machine add up to the total weight you have to carry. This can range from 2.5 pounds to 6.5 pounds when you factor in the weight of masks and other needed accessories. Check the dimensions of each machine you consider to make sure the one you buy will fit on your bedside table or wherever you plan to use it.
Humidifier Features: Although continuous positive airway pressure is a good thing for sleep apnea sufferers, dry air can cause discomfort in the form of a dry mouth and scratchy throat. Look for a CPAP machine that has a humidifier, which adds moisture to the air and reduces the irritation caused by dry air. Many systems have an integrated humidifier that heats the air and makes it more comfortable for users.
Pressure: Before choosing a machine, ask your doctor how much pressure you should be getting. Different machines have different pressure ranges, so this is one of the most important features to consider. Some machines have a pressure range of 3 to 20 cm H20. Other machines have ranges of 4 to 18 cm H20 or 4 to 20 cm H20.
Power Cables and Battery Use: If you plan to use your machine while traveling, or if you frequently experience power outages, look for a sleep apnea machine for sale that offers direct battery operation. This will ensure that you can use your machine as prescribed even if you do not have an available outlet or if your power goes out for several hours. Some companies also include a DC cable with their CPAP machines.
Finding the Right Mask
When you buy sleep apnea machine accessories, you need to take special precautions when finding a mask. The CPAP mask must fit securely in order to deliver needed air pressure into the respiratory system. The right CPAP mask for you will depend on your doctor’s instructions and your sleep habits. Side sleepers may need to choose different masks than those who sleep on their backs. It is extremely important that the mask does not leak air, as this will affect the success of your treatment. There are three main types of CPAP masks. The oral mask fits over the mouth and carries air into the mouth. This mask is suited for those who breathe through their mouths at night. The nasal mask fits over the nose and carries air through the nasal passages. A full face mask goes over the mouth and the nose, delivering air to both passages. Once you select a mask, make sure it fits properly. To reduce skin irritation where the mask touches the skin, apply moisturizer or lotion to the skin.
Comparing Machine Costs
The cost of sleep apnea machine units is a big factor in which machine you select. Always compare prices before you buy sleep apnea machine equipment, especially if your insurance will only partially cover the cost. Small machines cost as little as $400, while large machines with many features may cost more than $1,000. When spending this kind of money, it is important to ask what type of warranty is available for the machine. Your machine should have a minimum of a one-year warranty, but some manufacturers offer a two-year warranty.