Should You Change Your CPAP/APAP Settings?

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Should you? Do you have a right to do this? Can it benefit you? For a more expanded opinion please visit my Living with a CPAP page.

Here’s the short answer:

It depends, but probably not.

Personally, I think patients should be able to monitor CPAP stats and make minor adjustments if the stats show areas where an improvement can be made (for example, increasing the minimum pressure supplied by an automatic CPAP device (APAP).

But here’s why you probably shouldn’t do this. If your DME and/or insurance company requires proof of compliance via downloading machine usage data then you shouldn’t change anything. Yes, it’s easy, but the insurance company might be able to declare that the act of changing settings is non-compliant (or they could claim that you’re not in compliance because you changed your settings). You might lose coverage or at the least have a lot of explaining to do.

When should you do this? My best guess is only if you’re not dealing with an insurance company or if you don’t have to report compliance data to any other party.

I hope this information helps. If you’re not sure then just contact your DME or sleep doctor.

Changing CPAP (APAP) Minimum Pressure Range

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In general, I’d recommend against doing exactly what I’ve done. However, my recent journey into tracking sleep stats provided me with information that I used to determine, on my own, what might be a better pressure range.

While reviewing data from 17 nights I realized that on 14 of those nights the average pressure used was above 9. In addition, in cpaptalk.com forums I read some accounts in which several individuals suggested that lower minimum pressure settings can be a problem for some people.

Specifically, the idea is that if a pressure of 9 is needed to clear the airway, but the minimum starting pressure is 6, then it may be taking the CPAP too long to detect that a higher pressure is needed. By the time the unit ramps up the pressure the apnea or hypopnea event may already be over due to the body’s automatic response.

I’ve used this range two nights in a row and I do seem to have experienced an improvement in my sleep.

Updated 10/12/2011: My opinion regarding exercising the ability to change machine settings has changed slightly. Visit my page on living with a CPAP for more information.