Traveling With Sleep Apnea and a CPAP Machine
Many obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients use their CPAPs nightly at home, but often ignore treatment while traveling. It can be difficult to pack a bulky CPAP machine and there may not be a reliable source of electricity while traveling.
Ignoring treatment while traveling is not a good idea because of the obvious health risks. In addition, untreated OSA, even for a few days, can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and lethargy. Who wants to feel exhausted during their vacation or in a long distance business meeting? With a little planning, you may be able to use a CPAP alternative during your travels.
What are the Best Options?
Provent nasal valves are a simple and easy solution. Provent fits on the nose like a band-aid, and creates back pressure to treat OSA. Provent, which requires a doctor’s prescription, is light weight and takes only seconds to apply. Provent doesn’t always work for everyone, but it may be a viable alternative for many. Provent is not covered by insurance and costs around $70 for a 30 day supply.
Oral appliances, which advance the jaw to treat OSA, can also be effective. Many patients with mild sleep apnea use oral devices to treat their sleep apnea rather than CPAP. Oral devices may not be 100% effective for moderate to severe sleep apnea, but it may be better than no treatment for the traveling patient.
For those who cannot live without their CPAP, several companies now offer lightweight CPAP machines. You will probably have to pay out of pocket for these machines, as most insurers will only pay for one CPAP machine per patient. Check out the Z2 CPAP machine which weighs less than 10 ounces and comes with an optional battery pack. Transcend also offers a lightweight CPAP machine with a battery pack. Check out the Z2 and the other travel CPAP machines.
Regardless of the treatment you choose, plan ahead as it may take several weeks to a month to figure out and receive the best treatment option. Don’t forget to consult your physician so he/she can help you determine what is best for you.