For those of you who are new to the idea of CPAP machines, there is, admittedly, a lot to learn about them. One of the main things that you may be confused about is the idea of an auto CPAP machine and a set pressure unit.
Let’s start with the basics:
- A set pressure CPAP machine, otherwise known as a “fixed pressure” machine, is a machine with only one set level of air pressure that is provided by the mask as you sleep. This is usually pre-determined by your medical care provider, based on what your breathing patterns are like as you sleep. An example of this is the ResMed S9 elite, found on the PapSmart website https://www.papsmart.com/cpap-and-bipap-machines/cpap-machines/resmed-s9-elite.
- An auto CPAP machine means that the air pressure setting is controlled automatically (hence the name). It changes based on your breathing patterns as you sleep, and it can detect when you are about to stop breathing, and adjust the air pressure setting to a higher one to keep your airway open. As an example, take the Phillips Respironics System One Auto A Flex with humidifier (found at https://www.papsmart.com/cpap-and-bipap-machines/cpap-and-bipap-machines-auto-cpap-machines/philips-respironics-system-one-auto-a-flex-with-humidifier)
So now begs the question: which machine is right for me?
Well, it all depends on how severe your sleep apnea is and what kind of an air pressure setting you require as you sleep. Those with milder cases of sleep apnea will likely do just fine with a manual CPAP machine, with just the one fixed air pressure setting. If you have a more severe case of sleep apnea, then you are probably better off with an auto CPAP machine. This is the option that most people end up going with.
Another thing to keep in mind: your air pressure setting requirement may change over time. Certain factors, such as losing weight and drinking alcohol before you sleep can affect your breathing patterns as you sleep. You do not need to worry about this with an auto CPAP machine, however with a fixed-pressure machine, you will need to be assessed by your doctor regularly and your prescription may change overtime.
The bottom line is this: your doctor’s advice is always the winner. They know best what type of air pressure setting is best for you.