How Do I Choose the Best CPAP Breathing Machine?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters
CPAP breathing machines push air through the nasal passages to ensure consistent air flow.
CPAP breathing machines push air through the nasal passages to ensure consistent air flow.

Choosing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is largely a matter of finding a system that meets your health requirements. It can potentially be confusing with all the different machine styles and features as well as the many kinds of masks to choose from, though the masks are usually supplied separately from the machine itself. The main thing you need to look for is a CPAP breathing machine that is able to provide the level of air pressure you need and is reliable in operation.

A CPAP breathing machine is typically used by patients who have a problem with sleep apnea, which is a form of interrupted sleep. Apnea at the very least can disrupt sleep, causing the sufferer to feel continually tired no matter how much sleep he or she gets. More serious cases of sleep apnea can cause stress on the heart and other vital organs, and a person who has this condition is at a very high risk of heart failure during sleep.

Part of what you will most likely want to consider when choosing a CPAP breathing machine is what your doctor has prescribed, so that you are sure your system fits his or her specifications. You may also want to consider your health insurance; if you are depending on insurance to pay for your machine you will need to follow their purchasing instructions. In many cases, insurance policies will cover at least part of the cost of the CPAP breathing machine if it has been prescribed by a licensed physician, but check with your provider to be sure.

One important feature is whether or not the CPAP breathing machine can supply you with humidified air. Not all systems can do this, and it can be very helpful in preventing your nose and throat from drying out overnight. Also look to see how the air pressure is adjusted, and make sure there is some way for you to control it. Some systems do this automatically, but most have a way for you to select the setting so that it remains at a comfortable level for you.

A data capable CPAP breathing machine is one that has a computerized system that tracks not only your usage, but also how well you are responding to the machine, how many apnea episodes are still occurring, and other relevant data. This type of machine can be very useful in helping you and your doctor to understand how well it is working for you and if any adjustments are needed. In these systems, a small data card usually fits into a slot on the CPAP breathing machine and can be removed to access data without transporting the entire system.

Another consideration when choosing the best CPAP breathing machine is to look at power and portability options. Virtually all such systems are designed to be portable, but some are smaller and lighter than others, potentially more convenient if you travel frequently. Some machines also can operate on a range of power and will work ranging from from 100 volts up to 240 volts without the need for a special converter, though an adapter may be required for the plug to fit the socket. Such a setup is ideal if you do much international travel.

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    • CPAP breathing machines push air through the nasal passages to ensure consistent air flow.
      CPAP breathing machines push air through the nasal passages to ensure consistent air flow.