At CPAPMan, we carry two different categories of CPAP machines: manual, or fixed pressure machines and automatic machines. There are distinctions between machines in each category but for the most part, if you’re buying a machine, the most important part is determining which category of machine works best for you. We also have bi-level machines, but those are for patients with central sleep apnea: the focus of this post will be CPAP machines for patients with the far more common obstructive sleep apnea. Let’s talk a little more about each type of machine.
Fixed pressure machines can be considered “base” CPAP machines. The original CPAP design, fixed pressure devices offer patients airflow at a fixed rate of pressure. Patients simply set the machine to their prescribed pressure setting, and the machine will diffuse air at that rate throughout the night.
While manual machines offer slightly fewer algorithmic capabilities than automatically adjusting machines, the fixed pressure devices still offer a bevy of perks. Top of the line manual devices include EPR — which reduces pressure at the onset of each breath, allowing you to breathe more naturally — and other event detection software that helps you fight apneas as they come. They are also compatible with humidifiers and heated tubes.
The primary advantage, however, is that they tend to be less expensive than automatic machines. The additional algorithms found in automatic machines result in a higher price tag. Patients on a budget may prefer a manual device, particularly if they don’t experience apneas too frequently. Always consult your data with a trusted physician before making determinations based on your previous therapy experience.
Automatically adjusting machines have the ability to deliver different pressure depending on your needs throughout the night. Built with software that helps measure your respiratory cycle as you sleep, automatic machines are capable of adjusting the rate of pressure depending on room conditions, your breathing habits, and the prevalence of your apneas.
For many patients, these additional features help make therapy much more comfortable. Because these machines have the technological capability of responding to apneas as they develop, they can start with a low base pressure when you aren’t having an apnea. Thus, if your breathing is normal, pressure won’t kick in at all and you’ll be able to fall asleep much easier. Are these additional features worth a higher price tag? It’s really up to you.
What About Travel Machines?
We carry a number of travel machines at CPAPMan, and some of our customers are curious about whether we carry fixed pressure or adjustable pressure machines. The short answer is both. While most travel machines — which are smaller and lighter than most models — are generally manual machines, we do carry the XT Auto from APEX. Whether you want a fixed pressure or an adjustable pressure device for your travels, you’ll be able to find a machine to suit your preferences.
Which Is Better?
As you’ve probably determined by this point, neither the automatic nor the manual machine is any “better” than the other. Manual machines tend to be a little lighter, and much cheaper. Automatically adjusting machines offer a few more features, primarily the ability to reduce pressure while you aren’t having an apnea. Some customers prefer the automatic machines, but many are perfectly happy with their manual devices. It’s all up to you!