CPAP Vs. APAP; Which Should You Use?

CPAP Vs. APAP; Which Should You Use?

Sleep apneas, or pauses in breathing, are a common cause of brief awakenings. If you wake up frequently during the night, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time, you may not be getting the quantity of restorative sleep your body needs.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be curious about the distinction between APAP and cpap machines. Repeated cessation of breathing during sleep is a symptom of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening disease. 

About 2% to 9% of adults have sleep apnea. It is estimated that millions more Australians suffer from sleep apnea but have not been diagnosed and hence are not receiving treatment.

Short-term symptoms of untreated sleep apnea include disruptive snoring, morning headaches, sore throats, daily weariness, irritability, and disrupted sleep patterns. Long-term consequences include an elevated danger of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and surgical complications.

After a diagnosis of sleep apnea has been made, your doctor may first suggest making adjustments to your lifestyles, such as trying to reduce your weight, giving up smoking, or cutting back on alcohol or sleeping pills. Allergies are an example of a condition that may be addressed. In addition to these modifications, a doctor may recommend using a gadget to aid in airway opening during sleeping. Surgery or other invasive procedures may be required in severe situations.

The majority of people with sleep apnea are treated with either a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or an automated positive airway pressure (APAP) machine. Both continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and alternating positive airway pressure (APAP) machines share the same goal: to improve breathing during sleep apnea. In most circumstances, a CPAP machine will do the trick, but some patients may find that an APAP machine is more effective.

Differences Between CPAP and APAP

A standard CPAP machine does not adapt to your changing needs overnight, but an APAP device does. As a result, it can adapt to the fluctuating demands of pressure that occur during the course of a night.

In a PAP titration study, either at home or in a sleep research center, or by trial and error, a CPAP machine is adjusted to a certain setting. The CPAP can be manually adjusted to a new setting if the pressure is too high and causes discomfort during exhalation, but it will not do it automatically.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea would do well to familiarize themselves with the distinctions between these two devices before consulting a doctor about which one would be most beneficial. Here are a few distinctions between both machines;

Appearance and Function

Consistent usage of a CPAP machine is necessary for optimal outcomes, and experts recommend using it for a least of 6 hours per night. A mask is placed over the nose and strapped onto the user’s face. A tube leads from the machine to the mask that you wear on your face. Further, newer versions of the machines are both smaller and quieter than their older counterparts.

You should also use your APAP machine nightly for at least 6 hours. An APAP machine consists of a device, a hose, and a mask, just like a CPAP machine. Most APAP equipment is compact and quiet.

Price Range

CPAP machines usually cost between $500 and $800 and are typically covered by medical insurance. It’s possible to buy CPAP machine online at a discount or receive a rebate through the manufacturer, Medicaid, Medicare, or a state-run health insurance program.

On the other hand, APAP machines are far more expensive than CPAP machines costing $800 or more. Unless your doctor specifically requests an APAP, many insurance companies will require you to try a CPAP first. With APAP, it is possible that coverage will be denied by some insurance carriers.


CPAP offers possible relief from nasal and pharyngeal edema. It provides a means of dampening or preventing the vibrations that lead to raucous snoring. In addition, it has the potential to relieve stuffiness in the upper airway.

For APAP, it has the ability to effectively deal with seasonal allergies and other causes of short-term airway obstruction. It is potentially helpful in reducing obnoxious snoring and it allows for better breathing and less edema.


A few people have reported skin irritation after using CPAP masks. Using them, dryness or irritation of the nasal passages, oral cavity, and pharynx may occur. Plus, it is possible that some people will feel like they’re going to choke because the air flows continuously even after the person sleeping stops breathing.

APAP can also cause skin irritation or pressure sores. There’s a chance that it’ll make people’s mouths, throats, and noses dry. Further, it is not designed to properly react to some forms of sleep apnea.

Suggested Application

CPAP is usually recommended for patients suffering from sleep apnea, especially OSA, and those who are having trouble sleeping because of apnea symptoms.

In contrast, APAP is recommended when patients have problem exhaling when using a CPAP machine and for patients diagnosed with a particular subtype of sleep apnea

Consequently, people who are uncomfortable sleeping with a face mask should not use a CPAP machine. In addition to these, Opioid users who suffer from CSA, COPD, CHF, or obstructive sleep apnea should also not use an APAP machine.

Is CPAP or APAP Better for You?

If you’re having trouble deciding between a CPAP and an APAP, an at-home sleep study or consultation with a sleep specialist or doctor are good places to start. It can take some time and experimentation to discover the best PAP machine for you. If a CPAP machine is not producing the intended results, many patients will transition to an APAP machine. 

It’s possible that some people will try both of these PAP machines and find that neither one works for them, in which case they’ll need to find another method of treatment. The optimal course of treatment for you can be determined after discussing your symptoms and needs with your doctor.

More to read: You should consider these factors before choosing CPAP masks