CPAP Machines As a Way to Treat Sleep Apnea (The Ultimate Guide 2018)

CPAP Machines GuideLet’s start by being honest:  Snoring is an extremely difficult thing to deal with. Firstly, there’s the fact that you—and your sleeping partner—probably suffer from very low-quality sleep. Secondly, it’s a frustrating process to find a snoring remedy that actually works for your unique situation.

But here’s the thing I found the most challenging to deal with: My mindset.

I think I would have experienced relief much sooner if I didn’t feel as embarrassed by my snoring. This made me avoid the topic and search for the least invasive remedies. But I’m a heavy snorer, and they simply didn’t work.

Having sleep apnea made my situation even more difficult, but I didn’t want to admit I needed more drastic means. Sleep apnea was also the root of my snoring problem. I tried strips and nose cones, but they only made minor differences.

So, it took me a while before I faced the facts and tried some of the most effective methods on the market. I thought it was going to be much too awkward sleeping with a CPAP machine. It looked bulky and uncomfortable.

And yes, it can be a bit awkward. I thought having it next to my bed was simply going to make me feel humiliated each night.

But how I wish I ignored my pride and fears sooner. The quality sleep I get now from a sleep apnea machine is so valuable.

I did try out a few C-PAP breathing devices to find the one that worked best for me. Luckily many brands allow trial periods, so it’s possible to find your perfect fit.

But I want to help you pick appropriate ones from the start so below you’ll find all you need to know about CPAP machines as well as some reviews.

I hope you find your solution here too.

My Pick
ResMed AirSense 10 ReviewMy favorite unit is the ResMed AirSense 10. It really caters for almost any situation related to my type of snoring, and it’s designed to increase your comfort each night.

It can warm up beforehand, so you don’t have to breathe in cold air, and it can maintain lower pressure which helps you to relax while falling asleep. It’s quite high tech and does a lot without being loud so it won’t wake anyone at night.

It can also track your sleep and habits, so you can actually have meaningful discussions with a medical professional by reviewing the data.

Does it actually help your situation?

You’ll know when going through these recorded stats. And all of these features are easily accessible through a user-friendly menu viewable on an LCD screen on the front. It’s got everything I needed, so I’m sticking with it.

CPAP Therapy

I know using CPAP breathing devices will seem less daunting if you know more about them.

The image of you sleeping with a mask on your face doesn’t invite any happy thoughts, right?

Let me help you fix that erroneous view of CPAP therapy.

Do I Have OSA And Should I Start CPAP Therapy?

Let’s start with OSA and CPAP definitions:

  • OSA: Obstructive sleep apnea takes place when your airways collapse while you sleep. It limits the amount of air getting to your lungs and ultimately your brain.
  • CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure machines counter OSA by creating pressure inside your airways and nasal cavities. A breathing machine for OSA forces them open so you can breathe easier.

OSA needs to be diagnosed by a doctor so don’t assume you have this condition. Sleep therapy or observation will confirm it. If you have these symptoms it may be time to visit your doctor:

  • Tired during the day despite long hours of sleep
  • Waking often during the night
  • Your partner hears you gasping for breath at night
  • Headaches or other medical conditions associated with blood pressure

Since oxygen levels affect many processes in your body, your symptoms can be varied.

If you do have OSA, a CPAP breathing machine is an excellent solution.

The Side Effects

Side EffectsIt’s important you approach your CPAP usage with a realistic expectation. If it’s more uncomfortable than you expect you may give up on night number one and then you’ll miss out on the later benefits.

These machines do work, but you can expect some side effects. A few of these do wear off over time and the rest you can get used to. If your OSA is mostly cured this victory offsets the unfortunate features that include:

  • Your nose will feel quite irritated at first because the air movement will trigger the hairs inside your nostrils. If this is a big problem, you can try a unit that starts at a low level so you can fall asleep before it runs full power. You probably will get used to this sensation.
  • You may feel bloated in the morning due to air pumped into your body, and you may swallow it instead of it going to your lungs. This is something you learn to live with, or you can minimize it by lying on your side.
  • The process may spark nasal congestion. This could be your body getting used to it, so it may subside over time. Alternatively, try a humidifier.
  • Since the device affects your sinus area, it may cause CPAP headaches. This is because of pressure differences in sinus cavities. Heated humidifiers or sinus medication can help treat this.
  • The mask may give you red marks on your face. You must find the balance between letting the mask seal and finding a comfortable setting for the straps. You can also use strap pads to limit redness.
  • Your mouth may be dry in the morning which can be countered by sleeping with your mouth closed (use a different mask or a chinstrap) or try a heated humidifier.
  • Dryness in the nose can also usually be remedied with a humidifier.

You shouldn’t see these CPAP machine side effects dangers as they won’t cause you harm. However, you can discuss them with your doctor who will know how to alleviate some of them or help if it does start affecting your health. After all, each of us has a unique body and your reaction to these machines may differ from mine.

CPAP Tolerance

Unfortunately, the CPAP machine doesn’t immediately work for everyone. If you have a low CPAP tolerance (or you’re completely CPAP intolerant), you may not be able to use it all. This could be because of:

  • Feelings of claustrophobia
  • The gear may be too uncomfortable
  • Perhaps you have allergic reactions to some of the components such as latex seals
  • You may not find a mask that fits the unique contours of your face
  • Even low noise may keep you awake at night

Some of these CPAP breathing device intolerances may diminish over time, giving you an acceptable CPAP tolerance level; so, you may want to keep trying for a few weeks or months. Some professionals also provide CPAP desensitization services.

However, challenges such as allergies are difficult to counter and will necessitate different therapy options.

CPAP Machine

CPAP MachinesA CPAP machine was designed because of the need to counter people’s sleep apnea. Something had to be done to ensure people can breathe better at night if their airways are prone to collapsing. This can block airflow so much that no oxygen gets to the brain.

That was the motivation behind a sleep apnea machine. Today it has evolved into high tech units that can do quite a lot.

If you’re wondering what does CPAP stand for, you don’t simply need the definition above. It’s such a complex device with many options that you need some clarification.

Types of Positive Airway Pressure Devices

Different applications, physical attributes, and people’s personal preferences sparked a huge market for CPAP machines. Today you can pick from many units. They will fall into one of these categories:

  • CPAP: It’s an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure. The machine provides a strong stream of air which prevents your airways from collapsing while you sleep.
  • APAP: This stands for Auto CPAP and is a bit smarter than the previous model. According to algorithms, it will make small adjustments during the night, so it matches your exact need in terms of
  • Bi-Pap: This is also called a VPAP. This Bilevel/Variable level machine helps for extreme cases. It not only helps with inhalation but exhalation too.

Of course, if this works, you need it wherever you go, so manufacturers also design portable CPAP machines. This travel CPAP machine is a small CPAP machine you can easily add to your luggage, so sleep apnea doesn’t ruin your next holiday or business trip.

CPAP vs. BiPAP – What is the Difference?

CPAP vs. BiPAPDon’t think the machine with the most features will always win. If you’re looking at CPAP vs. BiPAP the most important aspect is context.

You’ll need a CPAP machine for general sleep apnea, but some individuals also have trouble breathing out (not only inwards).

For these cases your doctor may suggest a machine that has air blowing in two levels:

  • The IPAP which manages inhalation
  • EPAP which facilitates easier exhalation

The BiPAP can also be customized to fit your health requirements.

You can pick between a spontaneous or timed setting.

The BiPAP can only be tried if your physician gives you the appropriate prescription.

CPAP Masks

CPAP masks

Connected to your machine will be a mask. Depending on your preference and OSA cause you can pick one of three different masks:

  • Full face CPAP masks cover both your nose and mouth. This is ideal if you breathe through your mouth at night.
  • A nasal CPAP mask only covers your nose and is most commonly used.
  • A nasal pillows CPAP mask goes one step further and actually seals your nostrils by fitting directly onto them.

CPAP Accessories

Your CPAP breathing device kit has different components. Apart from the machine you’ll need:

  • Hoses running between the machine and the hose.
  • Nasal pads to limit irritation on your skin.
  • A case to make your device portable.
  • Power cords and adapters to charge the battery for CPAP machine.
  • Straps and headgear to keep the mask in place.
  • Cleaning solutions and moisturizers. These CPAP machine supplies are to maintain your skin and to keep the device hygienic.

Not all CPAP equipment are compulsory such as you may not need a travel case. Note that some accessories will wear out over time and require replacement.

How Does CPAP Machine Work?

CPAP TherapySo, what does a CPAP machine do you may ask?

Here’s the premise:

  • When you have OSA, your airways can collapse while you sleep. With reduced—or no—oxygen getting through you run the risk of medical problems such as strokes, blood pressure problems and more. Your body may react by waking you up through the night, or you may gasp for breath at times. This means you don’t get quality sleep.
  • A CPAP machine channels air into your mouth or nose, and so creates pressure that forces open the airways
  • State of the art units have CPAP settings that regulate the pressure according to your needs. Alternatively, your doctor picks a pressure setting which matches your requirements.
  • Now you receive the necessary oxygen which your body needs, and you can sleep deeply throughout the night.

Some OSA conditions include snoring which can become less if the apnea is treated.

Today’s machines have handy features such as ‘Ramp.’ This enables the machine to start up with a little pressure, so you can fall asleep and then it becomes more powerful according to your breathing needs.

How to Use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device

How to use a CPAP machineLet’s make your first night easier by telling you how to set up a CPAP machine.

Here are some basic guidelines that apply to most machines:

  • First, your doctor should put you through a sleep study, so you know how much pressure is needed to counter your OSA. Then you’re ready to use your unit at home.
  • Your CPAP device will have three components: 1) the motor, 2) the hoses, 3) your mask.
  • Place your device close to the bed, so the hoses don’t stretch or disconnect easily.
  • Clean your face and dry it so the mask will seal properly.
  • Get into bed and fit the mask over your face. You must tighten the straps until it’s tight but still comfortable.
  • Now attach the hose to your mask.
  • Turn your motor on and check for any leaks.
  • Make sure it’s at the appropriate setting according to your doctor’s advice.

Your experience of the machine and the data it records—if your machine has this function—will be used to adjust CPAP settings for optimal treatment.

How to Clean a CPAP Machine

SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner and SanitizerHygiene is important because what happens if you don’t clean your CPAP machine?

  • It affects the seal
  • You breathe in moldy air
  • Dirt or grime can affect a machine’s working.

On the exterior your machine will only need a wipe down. However, the inside needs regular rinsing. You can use CPAP sanitizer or white vinegar solutions:

  • Rinse components and ensure they’re dry before you use them again.
  • The hoses can be rinsed too by dipping them in the solution, moving them around to let the solution flow throughout and then pouring it out again. You can hang them up to air dry.

If you do use detergents such as a CPAP mask cleaner, always make sure they’re ammonia free.

General cleaning should happen weekly or at least bi-weekly and every few months (3 – 6 months) you should clean the mask properly by taking out the seal for some deep cleaning.

How Long Do CPAP Breathing Devices Last?

Purchasing from quality CPAP brands ensures that your device will work for up to a few years with the most common timeline being five years.

However, the different components do need replacement during that time:

  • Filters may need monthly exchanging
  • Your mask and tubing should be looked at every three months
  • Headgear can be used for half a year.

Of course, this guideline applies to parts that work 100%. If you experience any problems or leaks, you may need to replace components immediately.

How Much Does It Cost?

Here’s one benefit of this machine being a prescription-based device: Your medical insurance will most likely cover it. This could include all components such as hoses, filters and masks. Always check with your provider; perhaps you’ll need to cover some of the costs.

A new CPAP machine costs $850 on average, but prices range from $500 up to $3 000. This is because there are so many different types, accessories and brands.

If you do opt to look at used CPAP machines to save some cash, ensure that you can corroborate its past usage and let an expert check it out. A CPAP machine for sale may be contaminated or broken which will put your health at risk.

If you wonder how to get a CAP machine for free, you will find some charity and assistance programs. They can be found via your doctor or search online.

Some patients also donate their accessories they didn’t use if their condition is cured. So, there are ways to save money and still get quality care.

Where to Buy a CPAP Machine

Did you know it’s actually illegal to use a CPAP machine without a prescription? Though there haven’t been many court cases regarding misuse, this is a possibility.

So firstly, you must get your prescription ready. This also opens the best door to buy CPAP machine accessories and devices. Why?

Because the reputable companies and brands will only release a machine to you if they’ve seen your script. These companies can be found online, or your doctor will guide you in contacting them.

You will find second-hand products online, but if you use these, you’re putting your health at risk. As stated above you can rather contact assistance programs to help you source yours at a lower cost than buying brand new ones from vendors.

Can You Buy a Sleep Apnea Machine Over the Counter?

PrescriptionOf course, you know breathing is a very important aspect of your health.

For your own safety regulations are put in place that assure CPAP breathing devices don’t cause harm.

You don’t want your lungs, airways or rest of your body to experience damage because of the wrong settings.

That’s why you’re not supposed to obtain a CPAP without prescription since this is a therapy process you need your doctor for.

In partnership, you can discover the best settings and adjustments to ensure optimal treatment.

Because harm—or worsening of your condition—can take place these devices are classified as Class II medical devices.

According to legislation provided by the FDA you need a professional licensed medical professional’s assistance to obtain one.

Important: Sleep apnea could have potential serious medical consequences.  Anyone who believes they might be suffering from sleep apnea should always consult with a doctor first before using any type of aids.

Here’s a warning: Many people may try to sell their devices online, but second-hand machines can do more harm than good. It may be faulty and even using a working item without a doctor’s guidance puts you at risk.

How to Choose a CPAP Device?

Here’s one more reason you should partner with a physician: How will you know which machine to pick?

Your doctor will give you guidelines about what types (see above) will work for your unique condition. Based on that and your personal preferences you can then go purchase CPAP machine:

  • You may look at aesthetics because luckily manufacturers understand you don’t want your bedroom looking like a hospital room.
  • Look at noise level ratings, so it doesn’t keep a light sleeper awake next to you.
  • Do you need a portable unit, or will it always be used at home?
  • Fit the different masks to ensure it suits your face and nose shapes.
  • How tech smart are you? A machine that records all your data and provides many options is very dynamic but can be confusing for some.
  • Do you need a humidifier? It usually prevents many side effects but will, of course, affect the price.
  • Your machine can have many handy features such as the machine building up (Ramp) pressure over time or beeping when the mask falls off. Don’t pay for features you’ll never use, but it’s worth investing in some of them if they will make your overall experience more positive. Alerts of masks falling off are more appropriate for people who move around a lot at night which can make the mask fall off.

Best CPAP Machine Reviews

The overwhelming majority of CPAP machines are produced by only a few major brands.

ResMed, Philips Respironics, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare are the 3 largest companies producing the majority of these devices.

ResMed AirSense 10

This is my top recommended CPAP machine because of its array of features.

The ResMed CPAP machine has a Ramp function which makes it start off with low pressure, so you don’t feel too uncomfortable to fall asleep.

Pressure then builds to ensure you have enough support throughout the night.

It facilitates easy exhalation by reducing pressure when you exhale. This is the EPR (Expiratory Pressure Relief) feature.

All of this can be managed via a user-friendly interface on the unit’s front panel.

It stores data which your doctor can use to adjust your therapy if necessary.

It comes in a handy carry bag and has a humidifier unit included. It’s also compact, so it can fit on your bed stand and isn’t too difficult to take with you when you travel.

DreamStation Auto CPAP Machine (by Philips Respironics)

Philips Respironics DreamStation CPAP Machine ReviewThis Philips CPAP machine is a quality device that will serve you for years.

Though it’s not very loud people with sensitive hearing often complain about its mechanical noises.

This should be something the brand looks into.

You’ll love how comfortable breathing is because there’s both a heated humidifier and the hoses can be warmed up. You won’t breathe icy cold air.

You manage it via an easy interface on the motor. It’s also quite portable because it’s so light.

The brand created a DreamMapper app. This collects data which helps you monitor your therapy, and your doctor can use the readings to treat you optimally.

This allows some self-management but always ask your doctor’s advice too.

Resmed S9 Escape

Resmed S9 Escape CPAP Machine ReviewYou’ll love how quiet this unit is, and that’s because of the improved Easy-Breath Motor.

It’s quite a compact design so you can take it with you on travels.

The size doesn’t make it difficult to operate because the screen is quite big.

Imagine adjusting it even while lying down—that’s awesome user-friendliness!

The pressure will reduce when you breathe out, so managing OSA with this is quite a natural process.

This further enhances sleep quality.

Fisher & Paykel Icon Premo CPAP with Humidifier

Fisher & Paykel Icon Premo CPAP ReviewIt’s so compact and aesthetically pleasing most people will think this is a clock on your bedside table.

That counters two problems I face: it didn’t ruin the room’s aesthetics, and I didn’t feel like I’m going into a hospital room at night.

Its SensAwake feature helps you stay asleep for longer periods: It senses when your breathing is irregular which signals you’re waking.

It makes adjustments, so you feel more comfortable and can return to deep sleep again.

It has a humidifier, but it’s unfortunate you can’t detach this. It’s also not the quietest unit on this list of CPAP reviews.

ResMed Airmini

ResMed Airmini ReviewHere’s a solution if you’re looking for a travel CPAP option. Meet the smallest unit you’ll find on the current market.

Its size doesn’t mean it won’t work although it will never be as powerful as normal CPAP machines.

So ideally you should use this for short periods when away on business or holiday.

It has features such as AutoRamp, EPR and even BlueTooth connectivity.

It measures 5.4” x 3.3” x 2” and only weighs 300g. Of course, you can fit that into your luggage.

Note that it doesn’t contain a humidifier, but some high-tech features will extract moisture from the air you breathe out. This makes the air more comfortable for breathing.

ResMed S9 Elite

ResMed S9 Elite ReviewWith this model from ResMed you get the benefit of having your sleep monitored right through the night.

When you switch into a different mode of sleep, the unit will adjust accordingly.

The air you’re given will also be super beneficial because this machine adjusts it to match the ambient conditions of the space you’re sleeping in.

This is thanks to its Climate Control Feature. It even has a preheat function, so you get this luxury from the moment you get into bed.

It does all of this at a rather low noise level.

There are some concerns about the button quality and the climate control hose that sometimes gets too hot. Other than that, this is a winner.

Resmed S9 Auto Set

Resmed S9 Auto Set ReviewIf you need some additional assistance to get optimal sleep the S9 Auto Set’s APAP feature may be it.

The algorithm-driven technology will give you exactly what your breathing needs throughout the night. If you need less pressure, it will change accordingly.

It’s quite compact so it won’t take up much space in the room and it looks good too. On top, you’ll find knobs and buttons which are easy to manage even if you’re lying down.

It does have a humidifier feature, and these high-tech features help you use CPAP therapy to its fullest:

  • Let the data tell you if the mask is worn correctly
  • Collected data on a memory card can be viewed by your doctor
  • Tubing can heat up to provide appropriately warm air

Z1 Auto Travel CPAP Machine

Z1 Auto Travel CPAP Machine ReviewThese days the best technology can be packaged in very small devices. So, in this 10oz light unit, you get Nitelog Data features.

Your data can be logged on your Smartphone, so you’ll know how this unit affects your sleep. Make adjustments if necessary.

It even has humidifying features, but it’s small enough that the motor component fits in your hand. It even has a battery pack that will power the unit for up to eight hours.

Note that it does make some noise, so it may not be for light sleepers.

Apex Medical iCH II Auto CPAP Machine

Apex Medical iCH II Auto CPAP Machine ReviewThis is one of the pricier units. Perhaps you’ll find it justified because the casing is so modern and aesthetically pleasing.

If you don’t want your room ruined with medical equipment, this state of the art design will suit you well.

Inside you’ll find excellent features such as a humidifier, USB downloading features for your sleep data and even an alarm clock. You operate everything with the four-button interface.

The noise level peeks at 28dBA, so it’s quite impressive on all important aspects. As a bonus, you get a two-year warranty.

Resmed S8 Series

Resmed S8 Series ReviewThis compact unit has quite a few nifty features:

  • It can be easily adjusted for travel use with the 12v/24v adapter
  • ResScan features allow easy data download to a computer
  • It has a user-friendly interface with large enough buttons you can manage even while lying down and not looking at them

The funky blue and grey design also adds a friendly aspect to this medical device.

XT-Fit CPAP Machine

XT-Fit CPAP Machine ReviewFor our last option, we offer you a budget-friendly device. This makes it possible for almost anyone to own a CPAP breathing device.

It’s small enough to travel with at 5.7” x 5.1” x 3.9” but strong enough to help your breathe at night. It even has Ramp settings to help you fall asleep easier.

One more nifty travel feature is the universal AC power connection.

The heated humidifier is an optional extra so you can customize this to your preferences.

Thanks to modern technology anything is possible in small packages these days.

What Kind of CPAP Machine Is Best For Me?

There is no best CPAP machine; only the best CPAP machine for you.

Your doctor will pick a type for you, and this will relate to the type of snoring and OSA you experience.

This can be determined during a sleep therapy session.

With the doctor’s suggestions in hand, you can go find one that also matches your personal preferences.

What Are Consumers Saying?

When you look at CPAP machine reviews, consumer reports are quite varied. First off people often note how they didn’t realize they have sleep apnea at first.

They simply noticed how tired they were during the day. Only after some sleep therapy did doctors diagnose sleep apnea and then the CPAP machines are often perfect remedies.

The noise is, of course, something to keep in mind, and this is why silent machines are very popular.

It’s also important to talk to children about this new device in the home because they may actually get a fright walking into a room and noting the mask on one of their parents.

The continuous maintenance is a problem for some as cleaning takes time. You may also want to keep spare components at home, so you don’t have to wait for strap replacements or a new mask when your provider doesn’t have stock available.

Sleeping without the CPAP machine when you’re used to getting enough rest can be quite disconcerting since you become aware of the risks of having OSA.

And that last remark is what most people say: The value of getting sleep outweighs the effort that’s necessary to operate and maintain a CPAP breathing device.

Most positive comments relate to sleep apnea and not to snoring.

Does Using a CPAP Machine Reduce or Eliminate Snoring?

Note that this isn’t called a snoring machine and that’s for a reason.

Your CPAP therapy is focused on minimizing apnea and regulating breathing.

If your snoring subsides, this is simply a beneficial by product.

If you’re purchasing a breathing machine for snoring, you may be wasting your money.

Depending on how the CPAP device affects you an alternative to CPAP machine may still be necessary to curb those noises at night.

Pros and Cons of Using a CPAP Device

No device is perfect, but do you think this is your solution as it was mine? Here are some pros and cons to help you decide.

Positives

  • Relieves sleep apnea
  • Prevents adverse health problems such as irregular heartbeat
  • More energy due to more sleep
  • Better concentration
  • Can relieve snoring
  • Save money on other medical expenses
  • Headaches may go away
  • Deep, proper sleep becomes possible
  • Better sleep for partner.

Negatives

  • Not a guaranteed snoring remedy
  • Variety of physical side effects
  • Takes time to get used to it
  • Expensive
  • Takes up space in your room
  • Difficult to travel with.

Conclusion

Let’s be clear on the use of CPAP machines. While their working relates to snoring, their main purpose is to counter the effects of sleep apnea.

It restores your sleeping habits to follow normal sleep cycles again because you won’t wake due to a lack of oxygen.

The bonus is that this process often puts a stop to snoring as well. Because the airways become clear, there is less noise of air being forced through them.

But this is not a guarantee since theses C-PAP breathing devices aren’t focused on curbing that.

You may experience more rest, and for me, they worked well. I won’t easily part with my ResMed AirSense 10.

However, if your most important focus is to stop that snoring noise, you’ll have to look at mouthpieces that are known to be the most effective snoring remedy.

So, decide on a goal and then go shopping!

Which Product Should I Choose?

questionEvery person has a unique mouth and needs, so one that is perfect for one person may not be the best option for another.

There are well over 100 products on the market, so making a decision can be quite daunting.

You will find a lot of helpful information in the comparison chart, and I have written reviews of several products.

If you would rather not spend a lot of time reading reviews, please consult my article titled “My Mouthpiece Recommendation”. I have compiled a list of three products that I believe are the best options, based on my experience.