Portable versions of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are popular for treating sleep apnea . These devices include the ResMed AirMini, Philips Respironics DreamStation Go, Somnetics Transcend, Apex XT Fit, Human Design Medical Z1, and others. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using CPAP for travel? Think about some of the potential benefits and whether it is worth the cost of a device that can be more easily used on travel, even camping, with a built-in battery.
What is the size of the travel CPAP?
The first question that arises when considering a portable CPAP device is: How big is it really? Fortunately, those who use CPAP travel devices will find that the small footprint makes a big difference. Many are the size of an alarm clock or a smartphone. Here are some of the features of the popular models:
- AirMini : This is the smallest model available, 5.4 "long, 3.3" wide and 2.1 "high. It weighs 10.6 ounces .
- DreamStation Go : 5.9 inches long and 2.3 inches high. An additional battery extends the length by 4.8 inches. It weighs 1.88 pounds without battery and 3.41 pounds with it .
- Transcend : 6.1 "long, 3.5" wide and 2.8 "high. Weighs 16 ounces (1 pound) .
- Z1 : 6.5 "long, 3.3" wide and 2.0 "high. It is the lightest model and weighs 10 ounces.
Are batteries available and how long does the charge last?
With the exception of the AirMini, each of the most popular travel models has a battery-powered option. They can be purchased at an additional cost. The duration of the charge will depend on the pressure generated and the potential use of additional components such as a heated humidifier.
For example, the DreamStation Go has a battery that will reportedly last two nights if the CPAP pressure is set to 10 centimeters of water pressure (and presumably more for settings below that). In practice, the battery in most models is expected to last a night or two with standard use.
The lithium ion battery used in CPAP travel devices is rechargeable. Unfortunately, the device will be useless until you have access to a power source. This can make it less desirable to wear it in the woods on a hike or hike that lasts longer than a night or two.
CPAP travel settings
Each of the available models has an AutoCPAP option with default pressure settings that can vary from 4 to 20 centimeters of water pressure. These settings will be assigned and updated by your sleep medication provider to optimize therapy. Since these are medical devices, a prescription is required to purchase them.
Advantages of using Travel CPAP
CPAP travel machines have a few features that can make them an attractive option for use outside the home. Many have similar design elements that reflect standard patterns. There have also been some positive improvements:
- Quiet. New technologies have led to the creation of devices that generate little or no noise. This is a huge step up from older models and is true of competing manufacturers.
- The thin tube is smooth. Some devices have a smaller, thinner tube that reduces the size of the standard CPAP tube. This simplifies packaging. It can also add flexibility and ease of movement while you sleep. This actually changes the flow dynamics (smaller tubes increase air velocity and affect pressure) and therefore there is a pre-programmed setting to account for this change.
- There are different skin options for some models. Your preferred mask can be used with standard tube connectors. Unfortunately, the AirMini only allows a limited set of skins (specifically the AirFit series variants) due to the humidifier design. Any mask can be used with the snorkel worn by other devices. If you have a favorite mask, this can be beneficial.
- Screens built into select models make it easy to view settings and usage data. While this affects size, the visual display on some devices eliminates the need for a smartphone app. This makes it easy for the durable equipment supplier, physician, and user to make changes. Often responds instantly to touch.
- Take your battery and take it with you wherever you go. Most models have a built-in rechargeable battery. It is safe to board the plane without restrictions.
Cons of using CPAP for travel
There are several reasons why you may not want to consider purchasing CPAP for travel. These can range from relatively minor annoyances to significant damage that can push you towards an alternative.
- Pressure may not always be effective. Differences in the pressure and speed of the algorithm's response may mean that the device is not performing as well. This may require a narrower range and even higher pressure. As a result, you may need more attention early on. To change the settings, the intervention of the attending physician is required.
- The humidifier may not be available. For users who have stopped using added water, this may not matter. For those who experience nosebleeds or persistent dry mouth , this can be a hindrance. If the saline nasal spray cannot make up the difference, dryness can undermine therapy. There's a reason these devices ended up integrating humidifiers into all of the standard models; absence is a problem .
- Button responsiveness is not guaranteed. Sometimes it seems that the buttons on some models are difficult to press and do not respond consistently. On some models, the navigation menu can seem complicated, especially compared to other updated systems.
- Cost , often $ 500 to $ 900, can be a limiting factor. There are plenty of options, from high-end models to the cheapest (and frankly lackluster) low-end models on the market. More expensive than many standard CPAP models, but convenience comes at a price. Insurance generally only covers a new CPAP device (even the travel versions) every five years, so most of these costs will be paid out of pocket.
- The size of the device , although small compared to the standard version, may still be too large to be an attractive travel option. When connecting a battery, the weight and size can be undesirable. Some travel devices lose their appeal due to a feature they should admire: portability.
Get the word of drug information
If you are interested in a travel CPAP machine, there are some great options to explore. Many of them have a degree of reliability obtained from companies with years of experience in the design and manufacture of these devices. Despite significant advances in the use of the latest technology, there are still some areas for improvement. Some features can be improved with updated software, but some hardware problems may persist. Think about your needs and whether a portable travel CPAP is right for your therapy and adventure goals.
All products mentioned in this article that have been personally verified by the author have been returned to the vendor at the end of the verification period.