If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there’s a good chance that your doctor has prescribed the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, the most common of the available sleep apnea therapies.
But if you don’t know where to start or what to look for in a sleep apnea machine, you’re not alone. To make the most of this therapy, here are our tips for better sleep—and it all starts with selecting the best CPAP machine and cleaner for you.
1. Effective CPAP therapy begins with the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Though some 22 million Americans are thought to have sleep apnea, as many as 80 percent remain undiagnosed. This is primarily because the symptoms of sleep apnea occur during sleep and therefore often go unrecognized. Additionally, sleep apnea is not diagnosed during a single doctor’s office visit or with a blood test.
Rather, a physician or sleep doctor will first review your personal medical and family history, perform a physical examination and finally, have you undergo a sleep study—either an in-lab study, at-home study, or both. At-home sleep studies are becoming more common; in this case, you will be provided with portable equipment that will measure heart rate, airflow and breathing patterns during sleep.
If diagnosed with sleep apnea, recommended therapies may include diet and lifestyle modifications, oral appliances and/or surgery. But you’re most likely to be prescribed a CPAP device, which requires a prescription because it’s considered a Class II Medical Device by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the American Sleep Association, “While there are other treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP is the one treatment that can offer immediate relief for most people with this sleep disorder.”
Often, an additional study will need to be conducted—called a titration study—to determine the ideal pressure settings for your CPAP machine.
2. All CPAP providers are not the same: Find the one that will be an ally and asset for you.
Once your doctor has prescribed a CPAP device, you will need to fulfill that prescription through your insurance company or through a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier. If you’re a cash-paying customer, your physician may recommend a local brick-and-mortar DME supplier that can guide you toward the best CPAP to address the type and severity of your sleep apnea.
But if you’re insured, CPAPs are covered under the DME provision in most policies. Health insurance will usually dictate what CPAP you get, based on the results of your sleep study, and you will be contacted by a DME provider who will make sure your pressure is set appropriately. Sleep apnea patients may also purchase their CPAP from the sleep clinic where their study was conducted.
Regardless, you’ll want to get your CPAP equipment from a qualified supplier, ideally one with DME technicians on staff. Your CPAP provider should be able to walk you through how to calibrate your CPAP, and how to fit your mask and equipment to ensure that you’re comfortable. Also look for a provider who you can circle back with if you have questions or concerns later on. These follow-ups can be critical to ensuring you stick with therapy.
And if you’d like to do your own research, Sleep Review Magazine publishes a “PAP matrix” that compares the features of leading CPAP devices, weighing considerations such as warranty, operating modes, pressure relief, dimensions, weight, noise level, ramp time, operating pressure range and data recorded.
3. CPAP therapy requires an adjustment period, both physically and mentally.
If you’re feeling frustrated about having to wear a CPAP mask to breathe properly at night, it can be helpful to know that you’re not alone. Most people aren’t exactly fans of CPAP therapy right out of the gate and have to persevere through an adjustment period. Keeping a positive attitude can help you get over initial hurdles and make necessary adjustments to get to the promised reward: better sleep and a better quality of life.
It’s important to know that about half the patients who are prescribed CPAP therapy ultimately end up abandoning treatment—not because you should expect to follow suit but so you can prepare yourself for success. In particular, selecting the right CPAP mask for your face can make or break your chances of success. To minimize the chances of air leaks and pressure marks on your face, it’s best to get properly fitted to ensure that your mask fits your facial anatomy. But if that’s not possible, exchange your mask within the first month and try another one.
Before wearing your CPAP mask for a full night, it can be helpful to practice wearing it for short periods of time, as getting comfortable with it incrementally can decrease the risk of insomnia while wearing it. You may also want to try listening to music or to a guided sleep meditation for insomnia during your therapy. Practice really does make perfect when it comes to wearing your CPAP mask at night.
And if you need help, be sure to ask for it.
4. You will need to clean your CPAP mask and hose regularly.
Another reason that CPAP compliance statistics have been somewhat dismal over the past 20 years is that most CPAP manufacturers suggest daily cleaning of the equipment.
But the traditional cleaning method, which uses soap and water or wipes, is not only time-consuming but has a high margin of error, as the nooks and crannies of a CPAP machine can be difficult to reach. Furthermore, water left in the equipment can create a breeding ground for bacteria and germs.
“Bacteria and germs love warm water and warm dark places, and that’s exactly what you have in your CPAP machine if you leave standing water either in the hoses, on the masks or in the reservoir system,” says sleep expert Dr. Robert Rosenberg, a medical advisor to SoClean.
5. An automated CPAP cleaner can make your life much easier.
It’s important both to protect yourself from getting sick from a dirty CPAP and to make the cleaning process as easy as possible on yourself so that you minimize hassle and maximize your results.
“The incidence of respiratory infections when people don’t clean their CPAP has been well documented in several studies,” says Dr. Rosenberg. “In my own practice I see patients who don’t take proper care of their machines, and they are the ones who frequently come in complaining of recurrent respiratory infections. It’s quite clear as to what the issues are if you don’t take proper care of your CPAP machine and keep it clean.”
While there are several CPAP cleaning devices on the market today, most of them miss hard-to-reach places or can leave moisture behind in your mask, hose or reservoir.
The SoClean 2 CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer is the best CPAP cleaner because it makes cleaning your machine equipment fast and easy, requiring no disassembly, no water and no harsh chemicals. Wherever you can simplify the CPAP cleaning process, do it! Our CPAP cleaning device uses activated oxygen to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria in all components of the device.
If you have any questions about how the SoClean can make your CPAP therapy easier and more effective, please reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 341-7014.