Sleep Apnea is common among men, especially older men. It is also prevalent among people with spinal injuries. Some symptoms are snoring and extreme sleepiness during the day. I would almost pass out at about 4pm. I went to a sleep clinic and was diagnosed as severe. I would “micro-wake” about each minute. After testing and buying a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine I sleep very well. I am not tired at all now until late in the evening. My partner is also very happy as I have stopped snoring. She has moved back into our bed which is very welcome. You should get diagnosed by a trained sleep therapist, who will write a script. The two types are CPAP and Bi-level. CPAP is more commonly required. The specialist will recommend a pressure and probably a machine and mask. CPAP machines come in fixed (cheaper) and auto. The fixed machine is set to the prescribed pressure. The auto senses your apnea patterns and sets the pressure accordingly. I find the auto machine sets a slightly lower pressure than prescribed. Some other features are heated tube, and a humidifier to moisten the air. Both are essential, I reckon. Be very diligent with cleaning and maintenance, and change the filters regularly (set a calendar reminder).
I have used the Philips DreamStation 10 Auto CPAP machine with humidifier and Heated tube since Dec 2015. This has generally has been a good machine and good value. I haven’t found any functional faults with the DreamStation yet. It is easy to program. I turned on the “Clinician” menu of course (I’m a grown-up). I reckon the DreamStation power cord between the transformer box and machine is too short. I like the white colour of the Dreamstation. The filters are fairly easy to replace but the recommend replacement period is only one month. I played a bit with the software but I don’t really need it and can’t be bothered with yet another app. The on-screen reports on the machine are fine for my purposes. From the little testing I undertook I think the wifi setup is complex and unreliable. The auto-start works perfectly, but the auto-stop did not. I was using a 6-foot extension hose supplied as an option. This made the total hose 12 foot long! I’ve removed the extension hose and now the auto shut off works occasionally, but it is unreliable. My guess is that the overlong extension messes up the auto-sensing. Fortunately the off button is at the front and easy to reach. The power cord is at the side which can be inconvenient depending where you place the machine. The humidifier box is a bit hard to open but seals well. In conclusion, the machine is well-designed and sturdy. The setup and reporting functions are clear and simple. The powerpack box is too large, the velcro attachment is poorly designed and the power cord section to the machine is too short. Overall this is a good quality machine.
I also have an Airsense 10 Elite CPAP with Humidifier and Heated tube. The Airsense has a smaller, better designed power-pack than the DreamStation and the attachment Velcro is in a better place. The Airsense is black although there is a white “female” version which has flowers on it! Auto-shutoff seems to work better on the Airsense. than the DreamStation. The humidifier seals manually and sometimes it leaks with a high pitched whine. The seal must be washed regularly and replaced occasionally.
I first used a Philips Respironics Nuance CPAP Mask. The Nuance is more traditional, an “Elephant” mask as my partner calls it. You end up with a tube running in front of you. It is a “nasal pillow” style.
I have switched to a Philips Dreamwear Mask.The DreamWear tube is behind, and air runs along the side tubes to the nose piece. This gets the tube out of the way. I like this mask style very much.
There are many ways to buy these machines. You can buy local in Australia in a store or online, or from overseas, such as from the USA. The prices in Australia are sometimes ludicrously high, although with the exchange rate they are worth looking at. One machine I bought was $1300 Australian from the US, including the exchange rate AND delivery. The Australian supplier wanted over $2000. Prices seem to be improving here but it’s definitely worth shopping around. The US sites offer a warranty including free return postage however shopping local would still be more convenient in that regard if you had trouble. Another issue is customs. If the goods are over AUD$1000 Australian customs will snaffle them and demand a tariff of about $50 to $200. The suystem is a bureaucratic mess. I us a Customs Agent to simplify the red tape. Even then the US goods are often much cheaper.
The US site I use is 1800cpap.com.
Some Aussie ones are cpap.com.au (no search facility as of Feb 2016, which is pretty rudimentary) and cpapaustralia.com.au.
The Dreamwear mask is AUD$150 in the USA and AUD$225 here. This means with postage and the poor exchange rate it is still cheaper to import it. Add GST to the US one (and postage to the Aussie one) and the US still wins. What is going on?