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What is the difference between Auto CPAP and Fixed CPAP?

As you may know our OSA Support Group is taking place tomorrow and we wanted to give you a taste of what you'll be in for. Of course, there was prizes and treats and lots of good conversation. Our goal, here at Medigas MB, is to not just provide supplies, but build a community for our patients. We were so happy to see our patients start conversations and share their CPAP stories with the rest of the group.

We had lots of good questions, on things like humidity and travelling. One of the more popular topics was Auto CPAP vs. Fixed CPAP. Some patients didn't recognize those terms, and others did but did not necessarily know what they meant. 

Auto CPAP and Fixed CPAP are both types of CPAP therapy that are similar but offer different experiences. If you have recently completed, or remember when you started CPAP therapy, you were more than likely on Auto CPAP settings. This means that your sleep doctor prescribed a minimum and maximum pressure setting for you that our Sleep Therapists programmed into your machine. This directs your machine to start at the minimum pressure every night. When you fall asleep and start having apneas (or stop breathing) the machine will increase its pressure to open your airway. It will continue to raise the pressure every time you stop breathing. However, if your breathing normalizes, the machine will try to lower its pressure, just a little bit, to see if you have an apnea, and will continue to do this if you're breathing normally. 

Patients like Auto CPAP because it adjusts to them, night after night. It will not raise the pressure on your machine if it does not sense an apnea. This also offers the drawback of this machine, that often we do have patients contacting us, complaining that in the night they are woken with a huge increase in air pressure. This is the machine trying to open your airway, and a particularly stubborn apnea driving up the pressure. 

Over time your machine develops what is termed your 95% percentile. This is a pressure that the machine gives us, that represents what your machine was at 95% of the time over the last period. Your Sleep Doctor will refer to this number, as well as other factors to write your fixed CPAP prescription. 

A Fixed CPAP is set at this one pressure all night. Now we do have comfort measures that help adjust people to the pressure, but we'll talk about those another day! It is proven to treat sleep apnea very effectively and offers patients stability in their treatment. No more waking up to a hurricane! We have long-term patients that can't even sense the air pressure because they have become so accustomed to it.

Medigas Manitoba offers the Airsense 10 Auto CPAP under the Manitoba co-pay system. This machine can operate at Auto or Fixed CPAP settings! Patients that are on the Manitoba Health program are eligible for this co-pay whenever they need or want a new machine. For everyone else, Medigas MB offers this machine for the incredible price of $882.50!  Lastly, a quick reminder that machine settings must be prescribed by your Sleep Doctor. So, while we cannot change your machines pressure, our Sleep Therapists will be happy to guide you with your therapy. 

For more information on this, or anything else CPAP or OSA-related, come to Manitoba's ONLY OSA Support Group tomorrow at 7pm! Please call 204-786-2727 or use the chat to reserve your spot!

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