PAP ( positive air pressure) machines are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. They use positive air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep to prevent intermittent breathing stoppages which cause poor sleep and excessive snoring.
There are a wide variety of machines on the market with numerous features. PAP machines need lots of accessories too, including masks (full face or nasal) and tubing to deliver the air to the sleeper.
As a highly specialized piece of medical equipment, PAP machines are expensive to purchase, and it pays to shop around to find the best deal -- and a machine that suits your needs and preferences.
But should you buy a “deal” when it’s a used PAP machine? Let’s examine the pros and cons of buying used PAP equipment.
Buying a Used CPAP Machine - the Pros
Used CPAP machines sometimes appear on auction sites like eBay or Craigslist and various social networking marketplaces. They are sometimes sold by CPAP suppliers.
The main reason people consider buying a used CPAP machine is the initial low cost compared to buying a new machine from a sleep specialist store. However, there are some very important considerations to make if you spot one for sale 'second-hand'.
Accessories: It is likely that you (or the seller) will dispose of the tubing, masks and headgear that accompanies a used machine. In some cases, buying a new machine with a 'bundle' deal might be more cost-effective; replacing all the individual accessories for the used CPAP machine can add up.
Outdated technology and parts
Older machines are unlikely to have the hardware and software for your sleep specialist to track your usage and progress (data reporting). If a particular model has been updated, it may be difficult to find replacement parts or accessories for your used CPAP machine if something fails or needs replacing.
Like buying a used car, the warranties will have expired or been voided once the machine was sold. If something breaks, you may have a costly repair to deal with.
Incorrect prescription settings
If you buy a new machine, the pressure settings will be matched to your individual needs as per your prescription -- so you may be using the wrong pressure settings on a used CPAP machine.
It is now illegal to sell a used CPAP machine without a prescription and these machines should not be sold on auction sites. Using the wrong pressure settings can often do more harm than good.
Even if you believe the used CPAP machine has had 'one careful owner', who has cleaned it thoroughly, the machine 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 machine 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 CPAP machines in a controlled environment, even the cleanest domestic used machines can potentially expose you to some very nasty germs and 'visitors' such as:
- Respiratory illnesses including pneumonia.
- Pests like bed bugs, parasites and cockroaches (if the machine's environment was infested).
If you intend to purchase a used machine, try to obtain one from a sleep specialist supply store rather than an auction or marketplace. A sleep specialist supply store will properly sterilize the machine and set it to the correct settings according to your prescription. Use due diligence to check its age, condition, cleanliness and parts availability.
Although the warranty will be shorter than a new machine's, try to get some sort of warranty for your purchase.
Why it's better to buy new
As technological advances occur, new machines 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 machines may be more portable and will have a warranty too.
A new machine 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 machine and therapy.
CPAP machines are an expensive purchase but the benefits of buying a new machine rather than a used machine from a non-vetted source are clear. For more information about purchasing a CPAP machine, talk to our Sleep Care Specialists.