CPAP Machines Explained
CPAP therapy was pioneered by Australian Professor Colin Sullivan in the late 1970’s. CPAP stands for ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure’ and was designed to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients by holding their collapsing airways open with positive air pressure.
This pressure is produced by the CPAP device pump, through a tube and connected to our airway via face mask. Whilst we often refer to each device as a CPAP machine, there are two main types of sleep apnea machines. The traditional CPAP machine which produces a fixed pressure and the APAP or automatic machine that continually adjusts treatment pressure to hold the airway open.
Automatic Pressure Machines (APAP)
Automatic machines are set with a minimum and maximum pressure window to operate within. APAP machines start off at a comfortable pressure to go to sleep with. Once the patient is asleep and the airway starts to obstruct, the automatic device uses an algorithm to continually adjust the pressure throughout the night with the aim of holding the airway open through all different sleep stages and conditions.
For example, you may have noticed that having alcohol at night can make snoring and OSA symptoms worse. An automatic machine with more than two pressure settings is a great option in these cases as it will respond to always give enough air to hold the airway open and help retain oxygen levels in the body. This often also takes the edge off a hangover and has many other health benefits!
Fixed Pressure Machines (CPAP)
By contrast, a fixed pressure device needs to be set at a specific air pressure that is right for the patient. This air pressure is usually obtained through the sleep data produced when that patient hired an automatic device beforehand or from an in lab titration test.
Fixed pressure devices are cheaper than automatic devices however it is old technology. Annual re-testing of pressure levels is recommended to ensure that as time goes by and our body changes, the one pressure will still be adequate to treat us. Fixed pressure scripts are generally prescribed by a sleep physician, sleep doctor or medical professional.
What Is The Right CPAP Machine For Me?
While there are some stark differences in an automatic and a fixed CPAP machine, the main difference is the cost and technological advancements between the two.
Automatic machines are typically much more expensive to purchase than fixed pressure CPAP machines as their technology far exceeds that of a fixed pressure machine. However, due to the popularity of automatic devices, the price gap has reduced significantly which makes owning an auto much more affordable.
The major benefits and effectiveness of both machines are equally effective in treatment and overall results. However, the simplicity and algorithm of an automatic device will ensure that even as weight, alcohol consumption and medical conditions change, an automatic machine will continually adjust to optimise therapy.
Having a machine that accounts for lower pressure and higher pressure therapy settings and upgraded features is best for those wanting a full sleep therapy experience.
The Importance Of A Sleep Physician
Although both types of CPAP machine have built-in automation, it should be noted that regardless of the device chosen, none of them are set and forget straight out of the box.
There are many manual tweaks that may need to be made to ensure maximum comfort. For example, if the start pressure is too low, it will feel like you can’t get enough air and it will be harder to get to sleep. If the start pressure is too high, it may feel like you can’t exhale. There are also comfort settings such as humidity level, pressure relief settings and even physical machine placement in the bedroom that can make all the difference toward achieving a successful result. The point is that it’s important to have a qualified clinician to help with the right setup of your device and ongoing monitoring to help optimise comfort and results.
While it can be overwhelming to think about the advanced features of a device, most machines have a built-in comfort feature and humidification capabilities that make the therapy much more comfortable to use.
If you're worried about monitoring your own sleep therapy, there is no need to worry as most devices have an inbuilt 3G or 4G modem inbuilt. This allows clinicians to remotely monitor your device’s performance, adjust as needed and produce a detailed data report upon request that shows your sleep results whilst using the device. Often these reports are required by your physician as part of a check up to make sure everything is going smoothly.
If you are looking for a sleep physician or are looking to undertake a sleep study, please visit our sleep studies page for more information.
CPAP Machine Range
At CPAP Direct, our range includes the well-known brands such as ResMed, Fisher & Paykel, Philips and SmartMED. We have a wide range of travel friendly options as well including the SmartMed iDisc Hybrid 2 in 1 machine and the ResMed AirMini Collection.
Almost all the CPAP devices can run from a DC source of 12V or 24V. Many manufacturers offer power solutions such as DC converters, battery packs and even solar chargers. Most of the devices and batteries are FAA approved and can safely be used onboard an aircraft. Regardless of FAA approval, we encourage you to contact the airline prior to your departure as each airline’s CPAP policy is slightly different.
How Often Should a CPAP Machine Be Replaced?
A CPAP Machine’s life expectancy is approximately 5 years which is the average time frame most health insurance funds will pay a rebate toward replacing the device. CPAP & APAP devices do not require ongoing servicing as you would expect with a motor vehicle.
It is suggested though that the air filter, water chamber, tubing and mask are cleaned and/or replaced at regular intervals for optimal performance. Many of the devices are programmed to inform you of any faults through an error message on the display screen or by sounding an alarm.
If any of the CPAP Machine’s require servicing in their lifetime. They are not sent overseas but instead to the manufacturers service department located within Australia. If the device is within its manufacturer warranty, there is no cost for the repair which is why it is always recommended to purchase the device’s extended warranty where applicable.
If the device has been bought from CPAP Direct, we will also provide you with a free loan device if your device needs to go back to the manufacturer for an in warranty repair.
For more Frequently Asked Questions, you can visit our page, here.
Does A CPAP Machine Cure Sleep Apnea?
In short, no. A CPAP machine is used to treat sleep apnea that is an existing condition to lessen the effects of fatigue and breathing problems during a patient's sleep.
When a sleep apnea machine is paired with a CPAP mask, the correct pressure settings and a comfortable sleep position, the effects of obstructive sleep apnea should be reduced.
Are Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machines Noisy?
The premium bedside CPAP machines are generally very quiet while operating. Most CPAP users do not notice the device’s noise except when there is an air leak coming from the mask or if the device hasn’t been set up correctly.
Smaller travel CPAP machines however, are known to be significantly noisier than everyday machines. This is because certain design features have been compromised in order to keep the device as compact and portable as possible. Although the travel devices are not designed to be used on a long-term basis, the excessive use will not be detrimental to the device’s performance and efficiency. Some travel devices offer mufflers or noise diffusers to reduce the noise emitted from the machine making it more tolerable.
Can I Undergo CPAP Therapy Without A Prescription?
To use or purchase a CPAP machine, you will need a formal prescription from your doctor or sleep physician. Although CPAP therapy is quite safe for most patients, you'll need to make a trip to the doctor to assess your unique symptoms of sleep apnea to ensure your treatment is optimal and effective.
Once you have a CPAP prescription you can match your symptoms to the most appropriate device for you and your lifestyle.
About CPAP Direct
At CPAP Direct, we understand that adjusting to CPAP Therapy can be quite a difficult and daunting process. Our crew are committed to making the adjustments as easy as possible by offering extensive knowledge about the products along with tips and support where needed. We have many store locations around the country as well as our online store which allows us to extend our services Australia wide.
We have a dedicated Support Team that consists of trained clinicians who can help you with any queries regarding therapy or your equipment. There is no charge for our support services nor is there an expiration date for this support.
We have CPAP Machines and CPAP masks available for both purchase and hire. Hire equipment is available on a monthly basis. There are no deposits, lock-in contracts or obligation to buy once the hire is finished. If you find the hire successful and wish to purchase one of your own, we will deduct the first month's rental from the overall price.
We understand the purchasing of CPAP equipment can be quite expensive which is why we offer a range of interest free payment plans such as OpenPay, Humm (formerly Certegy Ezi-Pay), Zip Money and Afterpay.
CPAP Direct is an accredited Australian CPAP Provider; all our sales receipts and invoices are recognised by Private Health insurance and allow you to claim a rebate if covered by your policy.