Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition, so it is likely that many international travelers have OSA. In fact, it is estimated that between 3% and 7% of men in the US have sleep apnea associated with daytime sleepiness. Since one of the main treatments for OSA is use of a CPAP machine, there will be many travelers wondering if there are considerations needed for traveling with one of these devices.

In the January 2018 issue of the Journal of Travel Medicine, Bodington, et al review travelers’ experience with using CPAP machines while away from home. The authors evaluated questionnaire responses from 251 known CPAP users in the United Kingdom. The questionnaire asked the CPAP users to describe their travel during the previous two years and, more specifically, their use of CPAP while travelling. The respondents provided data on 479 trips in which CPAP machines were taken. Of these 479 trips, 416 were by air travel.

Reported problems with the CPAP machines included:
1. Power cord for the CPAP machine was too short (26.4%)
2. Problems with transport (10.2%)
3. Forgetting to bring a power adapter (1.3%)
4. Checking in the CPAP machine with air travel (5.6%)

None of the respondents used their CPAP during travel. One might imagine that using such a device on a plane could be problematic, but many international travelers might want to sleep on long fights. One might think that the oral devices now available for sleep apnea would be much more convenient for travel. But these appliances are not for everyone. Here is a nice review of the pros and cons of these devices:
oral devices for sleep apnea

Given the potential issues associated with CPAP machines and travel, one would be advised to follow the advice of the American Sleep Apnea Association when preparing for your trip:
Travel and CPAP

1. Garvey JF, Pengo MF, Drakatos P, Kent BD. Epidemiological aspects of obstructive sleep apnea. J Thorac Dis. 2015;7(5):920-929.
2. Bodington R, Johnson O, Carveth-Johnson P, Faruqi S. Travel with CPAP machines: how frequent and what are the problems? J Travel Med. 2018; Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jtm/article-abstract/25/1/tax085/4711106 on 12-DEC-2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *