CPAP 101: Expert Tips For Getting Started with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machines

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Dr. Helene A. Emsellem

Dr. Helene A. Emsellem

 

I’ve just been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Can I expect my insurance or Medicaid to cover the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine?

Yes, most insurance policies cover CPAP. CPAP is considered to be durable medical equipment, and you can call your insurer to find out the specifics of your coverage. Deductibles and copayments for medical equipment may be different than what you pay for office visits or prescriptions. Medicaid does cover CPAP equipment, but it will need authorization. Supplies are covered separately, and the amount of coverage varies by state. Deductibles and copayments may apply depending on whether or not you have a secondary insurance.

What kind of mask should I get for my CPAP?

Nasal pillow systems, nasal masks and full face masks are available in all sizes, shapes and styles from a variety of vendors. They are all effective. The delivery system selection is very personal. On the night of a CPAP titration study (similar to the sleep study), we encourage patients to try on a variety of different types, guided by our experienced technologists. We ask patients to choose a first and second choice and to let us know if they are uncomfortable during the night so they can make a change. We find that even with maximal attention to mask/pillow fit prior to the first night, about 10-15% of the time patients may have an issue with irritation, air leaks or discomfort and may need to make a change over the first few weeks to optimize adaptation.

What should I do if my nose is runny or I have a dry mouth after using the CPAP?

Humidification of the air in your CPAP system can be extremely helpful in managing both dry mouth as well as a runny nose. Most current CPAP setups include humidification chambers. Studies have shown improved comfort and compliance when the humidity is used. The humidity setting may need to be adjusted, with a higher setting required in cold climates during the heating season. A persistently runny nose can be a problem and sometimes this