Sleep Apnea Equipment

In this article about sleep apnea equipment, we'll focus on the features of the different equipment rather than on the different types of sleep apnea machines.

Man using a Resmed Sleep Apnea Mask. Resmed Sleep Apnea Mask

The major purpose for using sleep apnea equipment is to ease the suffering in a patient diagnosed with sleep apnea syndrome. The most popular and doctor recommended machines for someone diagnosed with sleep apnea are CPAP devices (continuous positive airway pressure). The efficacy of these machines comes from the fact that they, as the name suggests, provide a constant flow of air into the patient's airways during sleep, thereby keeping the airways open and free of any blockage.

In years gone by, they were a bit bulky, too noisy and quite uncomfortable and many patients found them very difficult to sleep with. Nowadays, however, with technology being what it is, many sleep apnea machines are literally whisper quiet and the devices have shrunken in size and now come no bigger than a box of your favorite chocolates. In addition to that, rather than just a facemask option, many manufacturers, including ResMed Inc, offer three different types of CPAP masks:

  • Full Face Masks - where a mask is fitted over the user's mouth and nose
  • Nasal Masks - where the mask fits only over the user's nose
  • Nasal Pillows - where tubes are placed just inside the nostrils

Since people with sleep apnea experience pauses in breathing (apneas) throughout the night (caused by blockages in the airway), sleep apnea machines are designed to free the airways from these blockages by forcing air into the airways. For a more in-depth look at what sleep apnea is, see what is sleep apnea.

The most ideal Positive Airway Pressure machines should have certain important features:

  • it should be comfortable
  • it should be quiet enough as to not disturb your sleep
  • if you tend to move around at night, it should allow for such movements
  • it should be easy to assemble and disassemble
  • it should be easy to clean
  • it should be portable (if you travel frequently for business or pleasure)
  • the device should be data-capable, being able to store the patient's sleep data (and be able to present that data in a readable format).

In addition to the above, you'll also want to find out if you can handle sleeping with a CPAP device - as the airflow is continuous, it can oftentimes be dry and irritate the user during sleep. Also, some patients don't require continuous airflow and may want to look into either a VPAP device (variable positive airway pressure) or an APAP device (automatic positive airway pressure). VPAP devices blow more air during the inhale and less air during the exhale. APAP machines, on the other hand, utilize sensors to determine when the patient needs more air - and the device responds accordingly.

Many patients who take home sleep apnea equipment stop using it after the first couple of days or weeks. This is generally because they can't get used to some aspect of the machine. Therefore, take your time when selecting a sleep apnea machine, do additional research, talk to your doctor and speak to any friends or colleagues who may have experience using such devices.

Aside from the different types of Positive Airway Pressure devices on the market, there is also another type of sleep apnea equipment that, while not universally effective, is still effective for many. This device, called a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) is a dental device and works by slightly pulling the lower jaw forward. This in turn, pulls the tongue forward, preventing the tongue from blocking the airway during sleep. They are made to fit the jaw of a patient and, compared to CPAP machines, are relatively cheap.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and are looking for sleep apnea equipment, take the time to do your research and ask as many questions as possible - don't just jump into bed with the first piece that catches your eye.