If you are suffering from moderate or severe sleep apnea, it is very likely that you will get prescribed a sleep apnea device. There are a number of different types of positive airway pressure (PAP) machines available and it comes down to the severity and form of the sleep apnea you have. So, here is everything you need to know about the types of sleep apnea machines and how to choose the right medical device.
What is a PAP Machine?
PAP machines are medical devices which enhance the quality of breathing during sleep. These machines move the air through the airway and prevent blockage of the airway. PAP machines consist of an airway generator, a hose which connects to the generator, and a mask. These devices are very discrete and have a range of settings and features. Thus, the pressure is set and determined based on the severity of your sleep apnea.
PAP machines are FDA approved and you need a prescription to obtain it. So, these devices are covered by insurance as medical equipment and you can rent or buy one for yourself. There are a number of PAP manufacturers which offer machines with different settings and features. Hence, as soon as you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and get PAP therapy prescribed, you will need to choose a machine for you. PAPs, as they are covered by insurance, can be rented or bought through a home health care company, known as a durable medical equipment company. Moreover, you can also buy these devices on the internet. It might be a good idea to rent a PAP machine first to check whether the machine meets all your needs, before buying one for yourself.
Your home care company representative and your physician should suggest the type of PAP machine which will work best for you. Some insurance companies impose cost and provider restrictions which you should definitely consider. For instance, there are some insurance companies which cover only certain types of PAP devices while others don’t cover some sophisticated machines with higher costs.
Let’s now consider the types of PAP machines available and help you determine which one suits your medical needs.
Types of Sleep Apnea Machines
Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines are the primary treatment option for moderate to severe sleep apnea. This machine helps in opening the airway by continuously delivering oxygen into your airway and prevents collapses in the throat while you’re breathing. CPAP comes with a mask which can be one which covers your mouth and nose or a mask which goes over your nose. Getting used to this machine might require some time, but it isn’t impossible.
CPAP is one of the most commonly used sleep apnea machines which is very successful in treating obstructive sleep apnea, snoring, or upper airway resistance syndrome. This type of machine is considered as the most effective sleep apnea treatment, especially if your obstructive sleep apnea is moderate. Using CPAP therapy won’t only help in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, but also lower the blood pressure and prevent many heart disorders and stroke.
This is yet another positive airway pressure device which bears a lot of similarities with CPAP machines. However, BiPAP machines feature a slit pressure which allows easier inhalation and exhalation. BiPAP is actually a trademarked brand name for a Philips Respironics product, but thanks to its popularity it became a generic term. You might also encounter this type of sleep apnea machine as BPAP, but it also refers to the same therapy known as bilevel positive airway pressure therapy.
This type of sleep apnea machine is a great choice for people who need higher pressure levels of incoming air. Moreover, the BiPAP machines record the number of breaths per minute that a person takes. These machines are usually prescribed to patients with congestive heart failure, lung disorders, or cardiovascular disorders. Likewise, BiPAP therapy is also prescribed to people with central sleep apnea, obesity hypoventilation, COPD, and overlap syndrome.
CPAP with C-Flex
Respironics CPAP machines come with comfort features known as C-Flex. This feature is great for patients who have been diagnosed with mild obstructive sleep apnea and need less pressure in the PAP machine. Hence, CPAP with C-Flex decreases the pressure when you exhale and, in this case, it’s more convenient than traditional CPAP and BiPAP machines. It is, in fact, a variation of a CPAP machine but with a lighter exhale pressure release and a lower setting.
This type of sleep apnea machine is very similar to the CPAP machine in delivering positive pressure into the airway, but it isn’t limited by one pressure setting. Instead, it features both a low range pressure setting and a high range pressure setting. The APAP machine can measure the pressure on a breath-by-breath basis and determines the pressure you need before a sleep apnea event takes place. The automated pressure this machine provides is convenient for people who have sleep breathing patterns that vary during the night. This sleep apnea machine works on computer algorithms which determine the air pressure you need. When compared to CPAP, APAP feels like natural breathing for people with obstructive sleep apnea. Moreover, APAP is the preferred treatment option for patients who experience apnea events during REM sleep and move a lot during sleep as APAP can adjust the air pressure depending on your sleep position.
EPAP devices are the preferred treatment option for patients who experience snoring or who have been diagnosed with mild sleep apnea. These small and portable adhesive devices are placed over your nostrils before falling asleep. They allow you to breathe easily and exhale through a smaller vent. The EPAP devices reduce snoring, eliminate daytime sleepiness and are an excellent choice for people who cannot get used to the CPAP machine. They fit over each nostril and help air go easily but increase the pressure in the airway so it stays open due to the small valves they feature.
Each of these PAP machines has some slight differences, but they are different in weight, shape, size, and some other features, including pressure relief, ramping, and humidification.
How to Choose a Proper Mask for Your PAP Machine?
The PAP machines come with a mask which attaches to the tubing that connects the machine. So, when you get a prescription for a positive airway pressure machine, you will need to choose the right mask which also fits you best. The masks are a crucial part of the machine and can affect the efficiency of the treatment. If you decide to get a mask with straps, make sure they are flexible, comfortable, and allow an easy opening of the mouth. The mask you choose has to be the right size and fit the shape of your face. When trying the mask, ensure it seals to the face so you won’t experience any leaks. As there is a great number of PAP mask styles and some of them deliver air via the nose while others deliver air via the nose and mouth. However, the efficacy among these masks doesn’t vary much. Hence, the most important thing is to choose a comfortable mask which fits you perfectly.
There are several types of sleep apnea machines, including CPAP, BiPAP, APAP, and CPAP with C-Flex, which help to open your airway and enable breathing. They all work towards reducing sleep apnea events during sleep. Besides the fact that CPAP is the standard and preferred therapy, there are people who will benefit from the other machines.