CPAP advice you won’t find on the internet

The purpose of this post is to save others in the market for a travel CPAP some time and effort, particularly if they’re ResMed customers.

I love everything about my ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP* machine except traveling with it. It’s just bulky enough to not fit into the bags I ordinarily use, so it becomes another item to tote around and keep track of. As a fanatical light packer, I hate that.

But, there are travel CPAPs, quite a few of them in fact, including one made by ResMed. The ResMed AirMini would be the natural choice for me, keeping me entirely in the ResMed family. That would ensure my ResMed mask works with it. No hassles!

But, it’s one of the most expensive travel CPAPs out there (nearly $900). That’s one strike against it. Another is that ResMed hasn’t done anything to address noise that accompanies its use, the biggest complaint. (It’s not machine noise, it’s hose noise. Bigger devices have no such noise, but I guess one thing lost in miniaturization is some kind of muffling structure.) Also, my supplier would not allow a trial period for the ResMed. HDM allows returns in 15 days for a full refund.

According to my research, all travel CPAPs worth considering are about equivalently noisy. (They’re really not that noisy. More below.) But, HDM’s Z1 Auto has a muffler attachment — the Qtube — that attenuates the noise. Plus, it’s about half the price of the AirMini. The three ways ResMed is bad (expensive, doesn’t address noise, no ability to return), HDM has done the right thing.

For these reasons, I went with HDM, but not without some annoyances. To my amazement, neither HDM nor ResMed could tell me if my ResMed mask would work with the HDM device. And, best I can tell, there are no mask-device compatibility crosswalks on the internet, or at least none that deal with my mask and the HDM Z1 Auto.

I’m baffled why HDM wouldn’t test masks for compatibility in order to increase its market share. Consumers would be more likely to buy the device if they knew in advance their preferred masks worked with it. It’s not rocket science. All one need do is buy the common masks (they’re not that expensive) and see if their hoses fit the HDM hose. In fact, maybe this can be done by examination of specs, without even buying anything.

To solve this problem for myself, I bought an HDM hose ($17 on Amazon) before I invested in the device. To my delight, I could get my ResMed P10 mask to fit into the HDM hose. Probably all the ResMed masks would work. Now, it’s not a perfect fit. It’s a bit tight, but it does work.

Moreover, now that I have the HDM Z1 Auto in hand, I found that the ResMed hoses kinda work with it too. Again, the fit isn’t perfect, but it’s doable. And, though I’ve yet to spend a night with it, I don’t find the device noisy, and I’m super sensitive. I’ll try it overnight and see how it goes.**

Here’s another thing you might wonder: how do you get to the clinical settings on your CPAP machine? That information is definitely out there. Just Google around. For the HDM Z1 Auto, it’s a bit hard to find, but you can get a copy of the clinical manual emailed to you from the Apnea Board.

Obligatory warning shot: Clinicians who don’t want patients to mess with settings, don’t complain to me about it. We already do. As you well know, it’s not an insubstantial challenge to get a busy clinician to do it for you. We don’t want to wait a night or two! Yeah, I’m sure there are patients who can’t responsibly handle this task, but I’m not one of them. I damn well know when I can’t sleep because my machine is moving pressures around too wildly or dropping too low, causing apnea events.

Anyway, so long as it is possible to get into the clinical settings, patients will do it. Best bet is to educate them, not try to hide the settings from them. That doesn’t work.

* Technically, APAP, but whatever.

** Update: The noise is minimal. I’m super sensitive, so it does bother me a bit. However, I find that if I place the device under some pillows or in my bag (on the floor) and run something with white noise (a fan or a phone app), it’s fine.


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