Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes your breathing to repeatedly stop and start. This condition tends to cause loud snoring and prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. Sleep apnea can be serious, causing excessive daytime fatigue, heart problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems, so proper treatment is necessary. One of the most effective treatments for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine. It’s a bit more complex than just taking a pill to cure it, so it’s a good idea to fully understand how it works to avoid any concerns or problems you might have.
What criteria make the best CPAP machine
For starters, CPAP is an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure. A CPAP machine works by increasing the air pressure in your throat to make sure your airway does not collapse when you breathe in. Another great effect is that it decreases snoring, which is more for your partner than for you, but equally as important so everyone is getting good sleep at night.
The CPAP machine itself is comprised of a filter, a small tank of water, a tube connecting the tank to a mask, and a chin strap. It functions like a humidifier. You place the mask over your face while you sleep, making sure to use the chin strap. Using it helps those with sleep apnea to breathe more easily when they are asleep at night.
All About CPAP Masks
CPAP masks come in different sizes and styles. Make sure you get the one that works best for you. Because people have varying face sizes and shapes, there is no “one mask fits all.” Some CPAP masks are full face, covering both the nose and mouth. Its straps stretch across your cheeks and forehead. This variety has been known to make some people feel claustrophobic. However, if you move around a lot in your sleep or have a tendency to breathe out of your mouth while sleeping, this is probably the best CPAP mask option.
There are also CPAP nasal masks which don’t cover your mouth. These feature nasal pillows which fit under your nose. The straps cover less of your face, which some people prefer. They are also useful if you plan to use the mask with glasses for reading, because the straps don’t block your eyes. If you move around frequently in your sleep, a CPAP nasal mask may not stay in place, though. They can also be problematic for those who sleep on their side.
Also, aside from style, CPAP masks come in different sizes that vary from brand to brand. This means that you may not use the same size across brands. Getting the right size CPAP mask will not only be more comfortable, it will allow it to work properly. CPAP masks are adjustable, allowing you to get the best fit.
Keep in mind that a mask that fits correctly should never cause pain. Air should not leak, blowing onto your skin, nose, and eyes. This leakage can cause unnecessary and unpleasant irritation, such as extreme dryness in the nose, dry eyes, and skin lesions.
How do you clean a CPAP machine?
It is important to keep a CPAP machine clean because you are breathing in the air from the machine directly. A dirty CPAP machine can cause you to be exposed to bacteria and mold, it can cause allergies, and it can increase your risk for sinus infections and pneumonia. Not cleaning it can also lead to foul odors, mineralization within the equipment, and cause it break.
As it turns out, it’s fairly easy to clean a CPAP machine. You’ll need a soft cloth, warm water, antibacterial dish soap, a small sink or tub, and a towel. Begin by disassembling the CPAP machine, making sure it is unplugged. Disconnect the tubing from the CPAP mask. Detach any headgear as well. Disconnect the CPAP tubing from all connectors, such as the tank output or the CPAP machine itself, depending on what it is connected to. Then remove all water from the chamber of the tank.
Take the soft cloth, wet it with warm water, and wipe the external surface of the machine to get rid of any dust. Next, fill a sink or small tub with warm water, adding a bit of dish soap. Place the mask, headgear, tubing, and any loose connectors in the water. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes, then take everything out and let it air dry on a towel. Ideally, a CPAP mask should be cleaned every day, but at a minimum it should be cleaned once a week.
The CPAP tank can be cleaned internally by using a soft cloth with hot water and a bit of dish soap as well. Then, let it air dry. It should be cleaned once a week.
If your CPAP machine has filters, the manufacturer’s manual can instruct you on how to best maintain them. Some of them can be rinsed to clean them, but others have to be replaced every so often. Sometimes, this as often as every two weeks, but it is usually closer to once a month.
How much does a CPAP machine cost?
While there is no universal cost for a CPAP machine in 2019, they generally start at around $400 and go upwards to around $3500. The price differential is based on things like how technologically advanced it is for things like oxygen therapy, the brand/manufacturer, its comfort features, and the kind of accessories (like mask, tubing) it requires.
For a travel CPAP machine, it is generally much less expensive, starting at around $200, though even these can reach around $2000. Travel CPAP machines are a bit smaller than the ones intended for regular use, which accounts for the difference in price.
In every case, purchasing a quality machine is the most important, as your health is on the line. Choose a reputable provider whether in a physical store or online.
CPAP Machines and Travel
If you use a CPAP machine at home, you’ll also need one for travel. Luckily, they come available in a travel size, because it would be hard to transport a full-sized one around, especially in an airplane. Portable, travel CPAP machines can fit in a normal-sized carry-on bag, so you won’t necessarily need a separate carrying case. Also good to note is that many travel CPAP machines include all the same innovations in technology and design, meaning their performance will be the same for a mini CPAP and a home unit.
Look for features in a travel CPAP machine that are important to you, like quiet operation, comfort, and other features that are similar to what you have on your home unit. Also, check how many components it has, as the more it comes with, the harder it will be to assemble and pack. Weight is another factor to consider if you like traveling light. Small tubing is better for travel than long tubing, so it might be worth it to check that as well. Other travel-related features to be aware of are user-friendliness, touch screen, and USB charging ports.
Side Effects and Warnings: When You Don’t Have The Best CPAP Machine
If your CPAP mask does not fit properly, it can lead to problems like dry eyes, dry nose, dry skin, and even skin lesions. These side effects are preventable by using a mask that best fits your face and does not leak. Others side effects of a CPAP mask include sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, sneezing, shortness of breath, and increased dreaming and nightmares. These side effects are generally mild if they occur at all. The alternative, having sleep apnea without treating it, can sometimes be serious or even fatal, causing stroke, heart disease, depression, and car accidents that result from driving while tired.