Traveling with a CPAP

As I had been diagnosed with sleep apnea a couple of years ago, I carry a CPAP machine with me when I travel. Up until now, I’ve been packing my big home CPAP and lugging it around as well as always having to source distilled water to use in the CPAP humidifier.

Travel CPAP

For our trip to Karachi, I decided to get a CPAP designed specifically for travel, hopefully smaller to take along, instead lugging around my big bulky home one, the ResMed Autoset A10.

After some research into the 3 or 4 travel CPAPs on the market, my choices narrowed down to the Philips DreamStation GO and the ResMed Air Mini. The GO was not available in Canada as far as I could tell and so the AirMini was the only choice.

Based on my experience with my home machine, I opted for the full face mask, the ResMed AirFit F20 and associated tubing.

I normally use an Amara mask and full humidification on my A10 as part of my home therapy.  With the AirMini, with the F20 mask, humidification is not available yet, so I was concerned, but decided to proceed anyways. I contacted my CPAP provider and picked up an AirMini. I also purchased the mounting accessory kit to hang it on the bedside for operation.

I had the intention of trying the machine at home first. That plan did not work out and the first time I used it was on the trip.

The AirMini connects via Bluetooth to a smart phone via a new app (downloaded from the appropriate App Store) that provides similar functionality to control the opeation of the device, similar to the interface on the A10. It also provides a path to allow data to be uploaded to the cloud for some type of compliance reporting.

The device utilizes a small power brick that plugs into the unit above the hose connector. It has the Canada/US plug configuration, so I needed to use an adapter to plug it into the UK and Asian sockets where we were staying.

AirMini-with-app
ResMed AirMini

On the Trip

At the airport in Toronto, I made a point to take the AirMini out and show it to the security screening staff to make sure there were no questions, but it turned out they were way more interested in the Jobo mini-tripod I was carrying.

And, interestingly enough, there were two other people with CPAP machines going through security at the same time, which suggested to me that there were many more people travelling with them than I would have expected. And I saw CPAPs at other points in my travels as well.

In use

In use, the AirMini needs to be programmed to your prescription by your equipment provider. A session starts via a button on the unit or via a command from the smartphone app.

It operates very much as the larger units. albeit much noisier. The AirMini unit is virtually silent, but the pressurized air leaving the vent on the mask itself is much louder than my Amara mask and I needed to use earplugs to be able to sleep.

The results of the night’s therapy is displayed on the app in a format that is similar to the  online MyAir system so if you are used to that, you will feel right at home with the AirMini.

The AirMini worked as expected, with the caveat that there was no humidity. It adjusted the pressure as needed, kept track of the mask going on and off, events per hour and monitored leakage from the mask. I found that it worked well for me on most nights, and the only problem I had was when I had a mask leak and my mouth dried out causing me to wake me up. I used the device for 16 nights and felt as good as if I was at home with my A10 machine.

Pros

  • AirMini and case are small, able to fit in a backpack or carry-on
  • App interface very similar to the MyAir online
  • Universal power supply worked with an adapter for UK and Asia
  • Magnetic clips on the F20 mask worked very well, better than my clips on my Amara Mask
  • The lack of humidification was not as big a problem as I had thought.

Cons

  • Bluetooth connection is not always stable
  • Supplied bag is marginally useful. I would suggest looking for a better solution
  • Need to ask service provider for compliance report
  • The F20 mask adjustments need work. Unlike the Philips Amara, there are not enough adjustment points so leakage and fit were not optimal for me.

Having said all that, I will be keeping my AirMini for future trips. If you travel and want to use a full featured travel CPAP, the AirMini is worth considering.

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