If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed CPAP, you might look at the cost of a new machine and baulk. They can get expensive, especially once you start looking at all the customization that might be necessary to give your CPAP a fair trial. So you might decide to explore getting a used CPAP machine.

And there’s no shortage of machines for sale. With our increasing awareness of the prevalence of sleep apnea and its severity, more and more people are being prescribed CPAP. Unfortunately, most people find they can’t comply with CPAP treatment. They find that it’s a nuisance, uncomfortable, or doesn’t stay on long enough for them to get the benefit they need from treatment. They switch to oral appliance therapy instead. Many people try to recoup the lost cost by selling their used CPAP on Craigslist or at a garage sale. But there are dangers associated with buying a used CPAP machine under these conditions.

CPAP machine sitting on a end table next to a bed

Contamination Risks

One of the most important things to remember about buying a used CPAP machine, as with any used medical equipment, is that it might be contaminated. Contamination is a big risk with CPAP machines anyway, since they’re constantly blowing air into your nose, throat, and lungs. You need to take care in cleaning your own CPAP machine, which only has germs from you, and, even so, CPAP has been associated with higher pneumonia risks. When you introduce the potential for cross-contamination with another user, you are exposing yourself to even more risks.

And then there are the macroscopic contaminants, as well. A CPAP machine has many potential places where small organisms can nest. Bed bugs, cockroaches, even mice might find a home in a CPAP machine. And the longer it’s been in storage, the greater the risk that something has found it.

Do They Really Work?

This is a big question. When you go onto Craigslist or are at a garage sale, people will tell you all kinds of things about the functionality of the device they’re trying to sell you. Maybe they’re not lying, but they are certainly skewing their representation to make the device seem more favorable. And how do you test it? The only way to really tell whether the machine is working as it’s supposed to is to try it out all night. And by the time you do that, you’re probably not going to get your money back if the machine doesn’t work. That’s not a security you generally get when buying used CPAP machines.

And speaking of security, you don’t know how well you’ll be able to keep the CPAP working. It might work at first, but die soon after, and it likely won’t be under warranty anymore. And it might be hard finding replacement for consumables like filters.

Does It Have the Right Peripherals?

One of the most important things you need to make sure when getting a CPAP machine is that it comes with all the necessary equipment to make sure you have the best experience trying CPAP. CPAP is hard enough to stick with, and if you don’t have the right mask, the right heater, the right humidifier, and other equipment, it’s even harder. Once you add up the cost of buying all these accessories to make your garage sale CPAP work for you, the savings is probably a lot less than you thought at first.

Will It Allow for Monitoring?

Another problem with used CPAP is that it might not be compatible with modern monitoring standards. Monitoring your CPAP usage is critical to ensuring compliance with the guidelines set by your doctor and insurance company. If you don’t meet those standards, or don’t seem to, you may not be able to get compensation for your device and other incentives for compliance. This can make your used CPAP more expensive than new.

If You Want to Buy Used, Buy from a Reputable DME Supplier

All of this is not to say that you absolutely shouldn’t buy a used CPAP machine. However, if you are going to buy a used machine, you should stick to buying it from a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier who also sells new machines. If they are selling used machines as well, it’s because they can verify that these machines are safe and functional.

And, of course, if you’d rather not be one of the many people who find they are stuck with CPAP machines, let us help you find out whether other treatment options might work better for you. Please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.