A continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) device is used as therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea. These devices are only available by prescription as they are sophisticated medical equipment.
The device provides continuous positive air pressure to your face through a tube which is fitted to a mask worn while you sleep. The air pressure helps to keep your airways open and prevents the cycle of interrupted breathing and waking that is a feature of sleep apnea.
As the sleeper's breathing improves, the symptoms like snoring, gasping, and effects of poor sleep are reduced.
The cost of CPAP machines
CPAP machines generally cost between $600 and $1200 – and will require masks and other supplies, too. But if you suffer from sleep apnea, these devices are invaluable.
Untreated sleep apnea is a serious medical condition which can lead to long-term health problems including depression, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Lack of sleep also affects your quality of life and often the ability to carry out daily activities safely. Daytime fatigue increases the risk of accidents and affects cognitive abilities leading to forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and irritability.
A CPAP machine is often regarded as the 'gold standard' treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
Choosing your machine
Your health provider should suggest the most appropriate type of machine for your symptoms and situation.
The most technically advanced machines that use BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) may cost up to $2000. These machines use different air pressure for the sleeper's inhalation and exhalation.
Auto CPAP machines or APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) devices fall in the mid-price range -- $800 to $1200. They can automatically adjust the air needed by the sleeper during the night.
Portable travel CPAP machines are also available for about $1000.
The Cost of Masks
Masks cost around $100 to $150 and need to be replaced every 3-6 months. There are various types of masks on the market and it's really important to find one that suits your individual needs. Some masks cover the whole face while others just cover the nose.
As well as the mask and tubing that connects the mask to your machine (around $40), there are a number of other items that you will need to be aware of. Some machines are sold with 'starter packs' that may include some of the other accessories. Some of these items include:
Humidifiers are generally integrated with modern PAP devices they will need a replacement part (a chamber) at least twice a year (around $30).
Headgear and mask sets are used to keep the mask in place and add comfort. These can vary in cost due to the quality and type of material. These will also need to be replaced on a regular basis and could add a further $40 to annual costs.
Cleaning items and supplies
There are a range of cleaning items available too and these will cost you around $50 initially:
Mask wipes, disinfectants, soaps and sanitizers.
There is also a cleaning machine available to clean and sanitize your CPAP rather than manually cleaning the device, but these have a high price tag of around $300. Accessories and cleaning supplies could add between $200 and $500 to initial set-up costs.
Filters ($3-$10) are needed to remove irritants from the air. There are reusable and cheaper disposable options on the market. Disposable filters need to be changed more frequently.
It’s best to buy a machine that comes with all the accessories so that you have everything you need.
Getting used to your therapy
It's important to stick to your therapy to obtain the best results. Work with your PCP or sleep specialist to make sure that you have the appropriate machine, mask and air pressure.
In particular, make sure that the mask fits well and is comfortable. There are different masks to suit people who sleep on their side or back, masks for people who breathe through their mouth or have facial hair.
If you find your machine noisy, some people find it helpful to have the machine under the bed where the sound is muffled.
If you have any issues getting used to the therapy, talk to your specialist as they will usually know of a solution.
CPAP machines are expensive, and costs have increased over the last couple of years due to supply chain disruptions and various global issues. There will also be some on-going costs to keep the machine and accessories clean and functional.
However, if you suffer from sleep apnea, the gains you can achieve such as better sleep and improvements in your personal health and lifestyle are priceless.
For more information about costs and different types of machines and accessories, here are some useful links: