On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

The Basics of Breathing Machines: The CPAP

Sleep apnea affects an estimated 150,000 Oklahomans — the same number of people who live in Norman, Newcastle and Blanchard combined.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. If you are worried about sleep apnea, take the quiz to find out if your symptoms could be a sign of a more serious problem.

There is good news, though. Breathing machine therapy is effective for nearly all patients, says Jonathan Schwartz, M.D., the medical director of the INTEGRIS Sleep Disorders Center of Oklahoma.

“There are options you can try such as losing weight, changing sleeping position, oral devices or adding medication for congestion to your routine,” Dr. Schwartz says. “However, we do know that the breathing machines will help every time as long as they are used correctly.”

The anatomy of the breathing machine

Breathing machines are often called CPAPs because they provide continuous positive airway pressure. Several parts are important to understand when getting to know your breathing machine. Each part requires care and has a different lifespan.

an infographic showing different CPAP parts and when to clean and replace them

Tips for getting started

“Each patient has to buy into using a CPAP machine,” Dr. Schwartz says. “There’s no magic pill to treat sleep apnea. Also, using oral devices is mostly not covered by insurance plans.”

There are more reasons than ever before to start using a CPAP. Breathing machines have gotten smaller and quieter in recent years. The roar of machines past has been replaced with more of a humming purr.

It is important to keep the area around your CPAP machine as clean and dust-free as possible. Dust can clog filters and lower the quality of the air you are breathing. Clean, high-quality air will give you a better night’s sleep.

In addition to being quieter and smaller, CPAP machines also are compatible with different kinds of masks. Patients can choose masks to match face shapes, breathing machines and sleep styles.

Who pays for CPAP devices?

Once you have a diagnosis and you know the equipment is needed, what then?

When the sleep study is complete, a specialist in sleep medicine will analyze the data and determine whether or not a CPAP machine is medically necessary. If a CPAP machine is required, your physician may work with your insurance provider to order the device and show you how to properly use it.

Suppliers such as INTEGRIS Medical Supply can help you get everything you need to be able to start using your machine. They multiple models of machines and will work with you and your health care provider to make sure you are well-equipped and comfortable.

If you are more comfortable paying for your supplies yourself instead of through insurance, online retailers are another option, and they often offer payment plans.

“CPAP.com does not bill insurance directly — this is one way we are able to pass along low prices to our customers,” says Ashley Thompson, a marketing manager at CPAP.com. “While many find us more affordable than going through insurance, we do also offer insurance-friendly invoices so customers can seek reimbursement.”

Beyond simply having the prescription to get insurance coverage, patients are often asked to prove they are using the CPAP machine and also that the machine is providing clinical improvement to the disorder.

“Many insurance plans require a minimum of four hours per night using the CPAP machine, while other insurance plans require patients to wear it all night,” Dr. Schwartz says. “Many machines measure nightly and some can share the measurements directly to the sleep lab. For the insurance companies to continue to pay for the equipment, there must be improvement in the health and wellness of the patient.”

If you don’t have insurance or your plan doesn’t cover the CPAP machine or equipment several organizations can help you find what you need. Your doctor may know of local organizations, but national foundations that support patients include The Reggie White Foundation and the American Sleep Apnea Association. Both programs have small user fees but are significantly less expensive than purchasing or renting a CPAP machine.

Looking for More Information?

The INTEGRIS Sleep Disorders Center of Oklahoma has two locations in Oklahoma City. Doctors have teamed up with some of the nation’s best sleep institutions to continually provide the best possible care to the residents of Oklahoma suffering from sleep disorders.

Subscribe to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog

Subscribe for weekly emails full of useful and interesting Oklahoma-centric health and wellness info, from the doctors and health experts at INTEGRIS.