Monthly Archives: October 2014

Four Questions To Ask Before Buying A CPAP

RespShop-37207-ResMed-AirSense-10-AutoSet-1Let’s say you have sleep apnea and that you’re about to buy a CPAP machine. For our purposes here, it doesn’t matter if you’re a first time buyer or if you’re on your fourth machine: there are a number of things you need to know before you buy a CPAP. There are several different types of machines and there are a number of factors you need to take into account to help you decide which machine is best for you. Buying a CPAP is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your therapy, and to ensure that you get the right device, we’ve compiled five questions you should ask before making any decisions.

1. What is my budget? 

Like with any significant purchase you’ll need to budget for a machine. If insurance or Medicare covers the cost of your machine you may consider a broader selection of devices than if you’re paying out of pocket. Keep in mind that high price tags aren’t direct reflections of quality: while top of the line machines will offer more features, you might be perfectly satisfied with a simple machine and a humidifier, which can cost as little as $345 with the XT Fit.

2. Do I Want an Auto Machine? 

You can break machine types into two categories: automatic pressure machines and fixed pressure machines. Fixed pressure machines are the original CPAP: to operate these, you simply set your prescribed pressure on the device and you’ll receive air at that pressure throughout the night. Auto machines will adjust pressure depending on where you are in your respiratory cycle and they also have the capacity to detect when you are having an apnea. Many patients, particularly those that have a tough time staying asleep with their CPAP, prefer the automatic machine. If you feel similarly, you’ll want to make sure that you get an auto machine.

3. Should I Be Interested In A Travel CPAP?

There are a number of CPAP machines on the market geared towards patients who spend a lot of time on the road. These devices — which can come with or without a humidifier — tend to be smaller, lighter, and easier to pack. In general these machines have fewer bells and whistles than other models, but provide all of the essentials in a smaller package at a reduced price.

4. About That Humidifier… 

This ties into budgeting too but some patients forgo using a heated humidifier with their CPAP. We generally recommend that patients use heated humidification — it helps ease symptoms like dry mouth and nasal congestion while making it easier to breathe when you’re falling asleep — but some people get by without it. If you do want a humidifier, make sure you’re getting a model that can be cleaned easily. You may want to look into which machines offer humidifier water chambers that can be washed in a dishwasher, if you don’t like washing your equipment by hand each day.

Ask yourself — or better, your doctor — these quaternary questions and you can be sure you’re doing your due diligence when buying a machine. If you have any questions for us, be sure to reach out and get help for your sleep apnea today!

Using A Heated Humidifier

Humidifiers are a great way to enhance your CPAP therapy.

Humidifiers are a great way to enhance your CPAP therapy.

At RespShop we encourage our customers to use a heated humidifier with their CPAP machines. Heated humidification helps people respirate easier and also alleviates some of the more unpleasant side effects commonly associated with sleep apnea therapy. Most of our patients enjoy using a humidifier, and we believe that heated humidification benefits everybody with a CPAP or bi-level device.

Benefits

The main benefit of the humidifier is that it mitigates the symptoms that sleep apnea therapy patients commonly experience. One of the worst side effects is dry mouth and dry nose: for many users, the inflow of air from the machine can dry out the inside of the nasal passage or mouth (depending on the type of mask). Heated humidification helps treat dry mouth and dry nose because the air is warmed by water molecules that help to moisten the inflow of air. This prevents drying, which will in turn help you feel better when you wake up after using your CPAP.

Many patients also enjoy breathing the warmer air. Breathing unheated air can make your throat feel scratchy; the warmer air is easier to breathe and helps you respirate naturally. Many patients with sleep apnea have found that they can fall asleep a little bit easier when they use a humidifier.

Using A Humidifier

In most cases, using a heated humidifier is straightforward. Nearly every CPAP machine can be purchased with a heated humidifier, and if you happened to get your machine without one, you can always get the humidifier later. Humidifiers for ResMed, Respironics, DeVilbiss, and APEX machines can be attached externally, and can usually just be snapped onto or adjacent to your machine.

From there, using and maintaining your humidifier should be simple. You’ll need to clean your humidifier every day — we recommend using warm water, a non-abrasive soap, and a soft cloth for the chamber — and if possible you should fill it with distilled water. Tap water can damage the interior of the chamber over time so you should use distilled water to avoid the build up of mineral deposits.

Internal Humidifiers

A handful of CPAP machines feature internal heated humidifiers. The ICON from Fisher & Paykel was one of the first machines to use an internal humidifier. More recently, the new line of AirSense machines from ResMed comes with an integrated heating system. Unlike with S9 machines — where you can add water without removing the chamber — you’ll have to pull out the chamber to fill it with water. This internal humidifier is found on all AirSense devices. Finally, the Z1 travel machine from HDM boasts an internally-located air re-distribution center that re-ventilates previously respirated oxygen, allowing it to work as a humidifier without the water.

Heated Tubing

To get the most out of your heated humidifier, you might also consider using a heated tube. Heated tubes help keep the air from the humidifier warm as it travels through your hose to your mask. Respironics and ResMed both make heated tubes compatible with their lines of CPAP machines and generic heated tubes are available as well.

Sleep Better With These Five CPAP Tips

Probasics-zzz-PAP-auto-7541You don’t need to tell us how important CPAP therapy is for patients with sleep apnea. We know that our customers – and all patients – depend on CPAP for a proper night’s rest and that they’re always looking to get the most out of their equipment. We’re often asked for CPAP tips or ideas for maximizing therapy, and today, we thought we’d share a couple pieces of advice that we commonly dispense. Remember, if you have further questions, we’re always willing to help: just drop us a line in the comments or at our email, sales@respshop.com.

Tip 1: Avoid over-tightening your mask

This may sound intuitive, but a surprising number of patients are willing to clamp their mask on in an effort to enhance their seal. A quality seal is important, certainly, but if you need to tighten your mask to the point of discomfort, the problem is less with the seal than the mask itself.

Over-tightening a mask can lead to painful and unseemly facial blemishes and strap marks, imprints that won’t fade quickly if you tighten your mask every night. Worse, some patients with overly tight masks subconsciously remove their masks in the middle of the night and don’t realize what they’ve done until the following morning. You want a snug fit, but if you’re tightening your mask to the point that it hurts, you either need to re-adjust your mask, get a new cushion, or possibly find a mask that fits your face better.

Tip 2: If you want a light mask, go nasal pillow

Patients who wear them won’t be shocked: nasal pillow masks are the lightest CPAP mask type. They aren’t ideal for patients who toss and turn all night, but if you’re a relatively sound sleeper, you can wear a nasal pillow mask without worrying about disrupting the mask’s fit throughout the night. If you dislike bulky masks or hate the feeling of a cushion on your chin or nasal bridge, the nasal pillow mask is perfect for you.

Tip 3: Use distilled water in your heated humidifier

Distilled water keeps your humidifier clean and safe from mold growth and mineral deposits. Distilled water is pure water, which will keep your humidifier chamber hygienic and operating properly for as long as you own your machine. If distilled water is unavailable, we recommend using bottled water over tap water. This goes for cleaning too!

Tip 4: Hypoallergenic filters last longer

If you have a ResMed machine and don’t like changing your filters regularly, consider using hypoallergenic filters. These filters feature dual-sided fabric which makes them thicker and more durable. They’ll block debris far longer than a typical filter and with proper maintenance, can be used for months.

Tip 5: Climb the stair? No. Use the Ramp!

We talked about the ramp feature in depth a few months ago, but the bevy of positive responses we got after publishing warrant a re-mention.

Most CPAP machines – especially new ones – feature a pressure ramp that allows you to gradually increase the air pressure on your machine. This lets patients to fall asleep more naturally, without a high volume of air inflow from their machine as they drift off to sleep. For patients – especially ones with high machine pressure settings – falling asleep with a CPAP can be a challenge. With the ramp, you can drift off to sleep while the pressure is set on zero, and over the course of the night, the pressure will increase to your prescribed level.

If you’re not sure how to set up the ramp, be sure to check out our instructional video below:

 

A Word About CPAP filters

CF2107HAOne of the accessory items that all CPAP patients need to take care of is their filter. Machine filters are vital for ensuring hygienic sleep apnea therapy and patients need to ensure that their filters are clean and working at all times.

Unfortunately, filters don’t just take care of themselves. They need to be monitored, maintained, and in some cases cleaned. Patients thus have many questions about CPAP filters: what kind of filter should I use? How often do I need to replace my filters? Do I always have to wash my filter? We’ll tackle each of these questions — and more — below.

Different Filter Types

There are two different types of filter that are compatible with your CPAP machine. First, there’s the disposable filter. Disposable filters are, as the name implies, filters that you use and dispose of. These filters will decompose in water and should never be washed. Some patients enjoy using them, as they require less maintenance than washable filters.

Washable filters, on the other hand, require a bit more maintenance. They have a longer lifespan than disposable filters but they must be washed regularly. It’s important to wash a reusable filter properly too: they should be hand washed with warm water, a non-abrasive soap, and either your hand or a soft cloth. If you try to wash them in a dishwasher or washing machine, you run the risk of damaging your filter: they simply aren’t durable enough to withstand that kind of washing regularly.

So, which is better? It largely depends on your needs. You’ll need to replace your disposable filter more often, which will cost more money. Washable filters will require more maintenance, but will last much longer. Both work equally well, so it really just depends whether you prefer to change your filters more often or spend a little extra time washing reusable filters.

Replacing Filters

Naturally, CPAP patients want to know how often they should change their filters for optimal performance. The answer, unsatisfying as it may seem, is ‘it depends.’

Disposable filters will need to be replaced much more often than washable filters. As soon as a disposable filter shows signs of discoloration or dust saturation, you should replace it. Normally this happens every few weeks, but the exact amount of time is determined by environmental factors around you. If you keep your bedroom squeaky clean at all times, you might be able to use your filter for a month or more. On the other hand, if your room has dust or pet dander, or if you smoke or use a fireplace, you may need to change your filter within ten days or so.

The same is roughly true for reusable filters, although these will have a longer life all else being equal. Disposable filters should be washed at the first sign of discoloration and to be safe, it isn’t a bad idea to wash them every day or every few days. You’ll be able to use these filters for several weeks, if not months, and will only need to change it when you cannot remove the discoloration during cleaning.

Of course, if you notice that debris is ending up in your mask, that’s a sure sign that you need to change your filter immediately, regardless of how recently you changed it.

Hypoallergenic Filters

For the S9 machine, ResMed made a hypoallergenic filter, which is really just a fancy way of saying ‘thick and double sided filter.’ These filters are more durable and will last longer than standard filters. They can and should be washed regularly, but they are less flimsy than other filters and provide additional protection from debris.

Contact Us

As always, if you have any questions about filters or any other CPAP supplies, we encourage you to reach out to us. We’re available on social media, over email at sales@respshop.com and over the phone at 866-936-3754. We look forward to hearing from you!

Five Lightweight CPAP Masks

AirFit N10 for Her

AirFit N10 for Her

Of the many factors patients examine when purchasing a CPAP mask, the weight of the item is one of the most important. Lightweight CPAP masks are comfortable for several reasons. First, they tend to put less pressure on your face, which can make it easier to breathe naturally and fall asleep quickly. Second, they’re less likely to give you the dreaded mask drag, that feeling of a bulky mask slipping off your face as you toss and turn in bed. Finally, heavy masks are less likely to leave red marks or other facial blemishes if you sleep on your stomach.

Simply put, patients have many reasons for seeking a comfortable and lightweight mask. If that’s your main preference when shopping for a CPAP, this post may help you pick the perfect mask for your needs. Here’s our list:

5. Pilairo from Fisher & Paykel

Nasal pillow masks will inherently be lighter than nasal and full face masks, and the Pilairo is no exception. With only three major parts, setting up and maintaining the Pilairo is easy, and it comes with headgear options so you can tailor a personalized fit. And, of course, the cushion is lightweight and easy to switch on and off the frame.

4. ResMed Swift FX

The ResMed Swift is quiet, lightweight, travel friendly and was designed with the patient in mind. Light and unobtrusive headgear allows you to fall asleep in your favorite position and the nasal pillows will fit snugly and comfortably. For female patients, we also carry a Swift FX for her that comes with smaller cushions.

3. Respironics GoLife

Respironics makes a GoLife for both men and women. The only difference between the masks is that the women’s mask is slightly lighter and features a smaller nasal pillow cushion. For both masks, Respironics gives you the option of wearing your hose traditionally or above your head, giving you the flexibility to choose what is most comfortable for you. Each mask comes with an enhanced seal and adjustable headgear. Critically, the two different variations are both lightweight and are designed to contour to a male and female’s face respectively.

2. Respironics Nuance

The first gel nasal pillow mask to hit the market, the Nuance remains one of the lightest CPAP masks available. The gel pillow weighs less than other cushions and the gel is built to conform perfectly around your face, creating a seal that will enhance your therapy without blemishing your face or disturbing your sleep.

1. ResMed AirFit P10

Finally, the lightest mask on the market is the AirFit P10. Weighing just 1.6 ounces, the AirFit is ResMed’s answer to patients who want a high performing lightweight mask. The cushions come in a variety of sizes to suit different patients, and the headgear can be customized easily (magnets also make attaching and detaching your headgear a breeze).

For patients who dislike nasal pillow masks, ResMed also makes the AirFit in a full face and nasal model as well. Though not quite as light as the P10, the full face and nasal AirFit masks are lighter than all other masks in there respective categories. The bottom line is that if you like lightweight masks, the AirFit series — which also includes For Her items for women — has you covered!