If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, then using a CPAP machine is of great importance for you. It will help you breathe easier, eliminate your snoring, and even lower your blood pressure. However, you’ll need to use it every time you go to sleep. Therefore, when you’re shopping for a machine, you’ll want to choose one that works well with your lifestyle.
First Things First – What is a CPAP Machine?
CPAP devices are most commonly prescribed for treating obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP stands for Continous Positive Airway Pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea causes interruptions in your breathing usually because your airways or throat briefly collapse or something temporarily blocks them. A CPAP machine helps you breathe normally by sending steady oxygen flow into your mouth and nose as you sleep, keeping your airways open.
How Does a CPAP Machine Work?
The device has a compressor (motor) that generates a continuous stream of pressurized air. That pressurized air travels through an air filter into a flexible tube that delivers purified air into a mask that is sealed around your nose or mouth. As you sleep, the stream of pressurized air pushes against any blockages, opening your airways so your lungs receive plenty of oxygen. Without anything obstructing your airways, your breathing doesn’t pause and you don’t wake up repeatedly to resume breathing.
What CPAP Machine Should I Buy?
Buying a reliable and quality CPAP machine is one of the most important steps when treating sleep apnea. You want to make sure that the machine you get will work efficiently and consistently every single night. While there is a range of manufacturers that offer these devices, make sure you get yours from a reputable company to get the best value for your money.
Are CPAP Machines Necessary?
Before trying CPAP therapy, try to make some lifestyle changes to see how it goes. Changes in sleep habits, diet, exercise, quitting smoking, etc., can make a great difference for some patients. Experts also often recommend changing head and neck positions in bed to allow the opening of the windpipe as well as nasal corticosteroids to reduce swelling and obstruction. However, for patients with severe sleep apnea, CPAP devices or even surgery may be necessary.
Here are some of the features to consider in order to choose the right device for your needs.
There is a truly wide range of CPAP masks available on the market, so make sure you choose one that fits you properly. Full face masks cover your mouth and nose and come with straps that stretch across your forehead and cheeks. This type of mask may make you feel claustrophobic, but it works well if you tend to breathe through your mouth when sleeping. If you move a lot in your sleep, a full face mask will also provide a stable fit. Nasal pillow masks are fitted under your nose and come with straps that cover less of your face, which means they can feel less inconvenient. If you wear glasses or read with the mask, a nasal pillow mask may work well for you as it won’t block your eyes as much as a full face mask.
Although most CPAP machines on the market today are manufactured to be very quiet (usually below 30 dB), some models are quieter than others. If their sound is an issue for you, make sure to check the decibel levels of the machine you are planning on buying.
Having air continuously blow into your airways can make them dry and irritated. For this reason, most CPAP devices today come with a humidifier; some models come with built-in humidifiers, while others have it as an additional accessory. Having a humidifier that is a separate unit from the machine can come in handy sometimes, for example when you’re travelling and you don’t want to take the entire machine with you.
If you frequently travel, a small, lightweight and compact machine might be your best option. Also check if the machine comes with multiple plug-in adapters such as DC power supply or international plugs, as well as whether you can use it with a portable battery.
Exhalation Pressure Relief
This feature makes breathing feel more normal by making it easier to exhale your breath against the incoming pressurized air. The device will keep the settled air pressure during inhalation while scaling it back a little bit during exhalation so you don’t feel like you are fighting against the incoming air.
In case your mask leaks, this feature can compensate for it by increasing the airflow to ensure you still get the needed pressure.