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Ordering a CPAP device: Tips for First-Time Users

In the past, obstructive sleep apnea would often have a dramatic impact upon our quality of life -- as many people were undiagnosed, and didn’t get the therapy that would extend their lives.

However, accurate diagnoses and the use of a modern PAP device can now help us to achieve a quality night of rest and avoid medical problems associated with sleep apnea -- heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, even dementia. 

It is still a fact that PAP devices come in a variety of dimensions and configurations. How are you to know which is the most appropriate make and model for your needs? 

Let's take a look at some important guidelines to follow.

Speak with Your Doctor About a Prescription

Similar to many medications, a positive airway pressure (PAP) device is normally prescribed by your doctor or a sleep specialist. He or she can also provide recommendations in terms of the most appropriate model. These will be based around the initial diagnosis (or if you happen to have undertaken a recent sleep study). 

The Role of Health Insurance

Some PAP devices can be quite expensive, especially those equipped with additional accessories to alleviate severe obstructive sleep apnea. 

The good news is that most health insurance plans will provide at least partial coverage. The only possible caveat here involves deductibles. Some companies will first require that your annual deductibles have been paid in order to offer additional financial assistance. 

Be sure to speak with a representative to learn whether or not this is the case. There could also be instances when you will be obliged to keep the insurer informed about how the device is performing and how frequently it is used to justify their continued contributions.

Finding a Trusted Retailer

A PAP device is a medical device, so it’s critical that you purchase from a reputable company. You can certainly buy from an online outlet; be sure to examine important variables such as FDA compliance, price and the return policy. 

Doctors and other sleep experts advise against buying a used PAP device, which may be lower in cost compared to a new device – but you risk getting outdated technology and parts – and it could be difficult getting replacement parts or accessories. 

Like buying a used car, the warranties will have expired or been voided once the device was sold. If something breaks, you may have a costly repair to deal with.

You may be using the wrong pressure settings on a used PAP device, which can do more harm than good.

Health risks of a used PAP device

Even if you believe the used PAP device has had 'one careful owner', who has cleaned it thoroughly, the device still poses some significant health risks. 

Because of the nature of this medical device and the moist, humid environment, tubing and chambers, it's an ideal breeding ground for mold, viruses and bacteria. 

It is also possible that a used device may have been used (or later stored) in a contaminated environment -- or has been in contact with allergens or substances that you may react to such as smoke, perfumed soaps or alcohol. 

While hospitals can sterilize PAP devices in a controlled environment, even the cleanest domestic used devices can potentially expose you to some very nasty germs such as respiratory illnesses (including pneumonia), tuberculosis, and bronchitis. 

Why it's better to buy new

As technological advances occur, new devices are likely to be quieter and include more features like a humidity chamber. You may find bundle deals for compatible accessories like masks, tubing, wipes and headgear. Newer devices may be more portable and will have a warranty too.

A new device will be tailored to your prescription needs and will provide your sleep specialist with data reporting that can help them monitor the effectiveness of your treatment and adjust any settings as required. This way, you can get the most out of your device and therapy.


A final concern involves the types of accessories that your PAP device offers. These include standard features such as a face mask, a hose and replaceable filters. However, you might be interested in additional options including:

  • Built-in heated humidifier
  • Face mask liners 
  • Heated hose
  • Chin strap
  • Pillows designed to be used with PAP

Note that some of these may be included with the unit and others could require a separate purchase. 

Ultimately, obtaining a high-quality PAP device does not have to be a complicated process if you take the factors mentioned above into account. After all, you deserve a sound evening of rest!


  1. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/cpap/does-insurance-cover-cpap
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