Let’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!