What is a CPAP Machine?
CPAP therapy is the most used treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and has been shown to treat the symptoms of OSA effectively. A CPAP machine is designed to deliver a continuous supply of pressurised air to your nose or mouth via a CPAP mask. The air pressure delivered by the machine is designed to hold your airway open, preventing it from collapsing or narrowing while you sleep. The air pressure is either prescribed by your sleep clinic, or the machine itself will set the pressure for you.
CPAP machines use ordinary room air and are powered by a regular power supply. They are designed to be low noise and will last between 5-7 years.
Can I buy a CPAP machine without a doctor?
If you’re wondering if you can buy a CPAP machine in the UK without a doctor, yes, you can. However, you will need to have completed a sleep test/sleep study to show valid documentation and confirmation that CPAP therapy has been recommended.
Need help choosing a CPAP machine?
Choosing a CPAP machine may look like a minefield, particularly if you have only just been made aware of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). However, once you know what to look for, it is very simple to find the right machine.
We are experts in OSA and have created a useful guide to help you. The guide will give you a greater understanding of what the different types of machines are, allowing you to narrow down your choices and pick your perfect CPAP machine. View our Guide to Choosing A CPAP Machine.
You can also call or contact our experienced team, who can talk you through the options.
Getting used to CPAP therapy
If you are new to CPAP therapy, then it may take you a little time to adjust and get used to it. Some people feel the benefits the very first morning after using it. For others, is may take up to a week of consistently using their CPAP machine to feel the full benefit. Perseverance is the key. Choosing the right mask is essential to your treatment, and there are many accessories available which can enhance your comfort.
CPAP Machines FAQs
A CPAP machine supplies a continuous flow of purified, pressured air into your airway via your nose, mouth or both. This continuous air supply prevents your throat from collapsing. It is essential that your airway is kept open and clear, so you don’t stop breathing.
When your oxygen supply is uninterrupted throughout the night, you wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed.
For us to be able to provide a CPAP machine, we would need to see written documentation to show you require CPAP therapy. This does not have to be a formal prescription; it could be a simple letter from your doctor. If you have taken our In-Home Sleep Test before ordering, then your results letter will state whether or not your result allows you to purchase a CPAP machine.
If you have done a sleep study but are unsure if you have any paperwork showing your need for CPAP, then please contact us. If you are yet to do a sleep study (either privately through our at-home service or via the NHS), then the first step would be to read our Sleep Test information page and progress from there – you could still benefit from CPAP therapy within a fortnight.
There are two types of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, fixed-pressure or automatic.
Fixed Pressure CPAP Machine
A fixed-pressure CPAP machine is designed to stay at one pressure level during use; this pressure setting should be provided by your sleep clinic, or possibly your doctor. This setting is calculated for your requirements based on several factors.
If you have been provided with a fixed supply-pressure setting by your clinic or GP, then a fixed-pressure CPAP machine should do nicely.
Automatic CPAP Machine
If you do not have a specific pressure setting (most do not), then you will be advised to use an automatic machine instead, also known as Auto-CPAP or APAP. Automatic CPAP machines have a range of sensors built-in that allow them to calculate how much pressure you require at any given time. It can detect when you are about to stop breathing and raises the air pressure accordingly. Once the danger has passed, it will drop the air pressure down again. This means, on average, you will get less pressurised air throughout the night than you would with a fixed pressure machine.
The fixed pressure CPAP machine would be set at the highest setting you might need.
Intus healthcare advice:
- Many people find automatic CPAP machine therapy to be more comfortable and more effective. We often find even those who have been provided a fixed-pressure setting opt for an automatic machine as a result.
- However, there is often an adjustment period as you get used to the different way an automatic machine provides pressure compared to a fixed-pressure one.
- Initially, some find the lower pressure alarming, and it can seem like you are not getting enough air! You are, you do not need high pressure all of the time – particularly when you’re awake.
- Equally, the automatic CPAP machine may go higher than you’re used to if it determines you need more pressure.
- It can take a little time to acclimatise when switching to an automatic initially, but in the long-term, your therapy should be more comfortable and more effective.
One thing to note is that the fixed-pressure setting you are prescribed will be accurate at that time. Unfortunately, over time your requirements can change. For example; gaining or losing weight, or drinking alcohol before sleep can affect the severity of your OSA and therefore the pressure you require. It is therefore essential to be assessed regularly by your sleep or respiratory clinician and make sure your pressure setting is still at the optimum level. Alternatively, you could choose an Auto-CPAP Machine which will always provide you with the exact pressure you need regardless of any changes.
So in short: If you have not been prescribed a fixed-pressure setting (for example, 12cmH2O), then you will need an Auto-CPAP Machine. If you have, you can either choose a fixed pressure CPAP Machine at that setting or choose an Auto-CPAP Machine anyway for the additional benefits it offers.
Your doctor or sleep clinic should have told you which CPAP machine you need – either a fixed pressure machine or an automatic machine.
If you are unsure which CPAP machine you need, read our quick guide on how to choose a CPAP machine.
If you still need some help, our team would be happy to advise you. You can contact us via phone or email.
It is generally recommended that you use your CPAP machine for at least 4 hours per night to see the full benefits of treatment. However, the exact amount of time that you should use your CPAP machine will depend on your individual needs and the recommendations of your healthcare provider.
Some people may need to use their machine for longer periods of time, while others may only need to use it for a few hours per night. It is important to follow the recommendations and to use your CPAP machine consistently to get the best results. If you do not use it often enough, or for long enough you may not get effective treatment.
It is generally recommended to use your CPAP machine whenever you sleep, including during naps. If you have been prescribed a CPAP machine, it is likely that you have Sleep Apnoea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. Using your CPAP machine during naps can help you to maintain consistent airflow and prevent episodes of apnoea, even when you are sleeping during the day.
In summary, depending on the severity of your condition, even if you just put your head down for a quick power nap, you could experience disruptive, harmful apnoea’s if you’re not using your CPAP machine.
Your CPAP machine records your sleep data and this data can be provided to your doctor or sleep clinic to ensure compliance.
The success of your CPAP Therapy is measured by the number of hours the CPAP machine is used, the time spent sleeping, your apnoea-hypopnea index (AHI), and the air leak rate.
The need for CPAP treatment can vary from person to person. Some people may need to use a CPAP machine indefinitely, while others may only need to use it for a certain period of time.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a treatable condition, but it cannot be cured by CPAP therapy. When in use, the CPAP machine simply controls your symptoms by keeping your airway open while you sleep.
It is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider, which may include using a CPAP machine on a long-term basis. If you are using a CPAP machine and are experiencing good results, it is generally recommended to continue using it
If you stop using CPAP therapy you may once experience apnoea events. For most people with Sleep Apnoea, CPAP therapy is a life-long treatment.
CPAP therapy isn’t for everyone and there are a few alternative treatments available.
If your doctor or sleep clinic have advised that CPAP therapy is necessary to treat your Sleep Apnoea, it is important to check with them before you try any alternatives.
Positional therapy is a form of treatment to help snorers and Sleep Apnoea sufferers who sleep on their backs. Half of Sleep Apnoea patients only experience the symptoms while sleeping on their back and not on their side or stomach. This small device is placed on the forehead and vibrates when you’re facing upward, gently encouraging you to sleep on your side.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD)
A Mandibular Advancement Device is a specialised mouth guard which gently pulls your lower jaw and tongue forward. This action creates more space at the back of the throat to reduce and prevent snoring and Apnoeas. Oral sleep appliances are a clinically-proven treatment for snoring and mild and moderate OSA.
BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) is similar to CPAP (Continous Positive Airway Pressure). Your sleep/respiratory clinician or the Intus Healthcare sleep test/sleep study will prescribe which therapy and machine you will need.
BiPAP machines have two pressure setting. One pressure setting for inhalation (IPAP), and the second, a lower pressure setting for exhalation (EPAP).
- The difference in inhalation and exhalation pressures reduces the work of breathing and allows the person to have a more restful sleep. These are some reasons BiPAP machines are sometimes used as a treatment method when CPAP has failed to treat their sleep-disordered breathing adequately.
- Like CPAP, the BiPAP machine also increases the pressure when you inhale to keep the airways in the nose and throat from closing while you are sleeping and provide a lower pressure during exhalation that continues to maintain an open airway.
- If you have OSA but without any other respiratory, cardiac or other severe health conditions, then CPAP would be the best form of treatment for you.
- People with nerve and muscle problems may better benefit from the BiPAP machine rather than the CPAP machine. BiPAP machines can make sure users breathe a set number of times per minute.
If you think you may require BiPAP, then you should discuss this with your sleep or respiratory clinician first. Appropriate testing is essential to determine what treatment method would suit your needs better and what settings are appropriate for you.