CPAP machines have become quite common among people suffering from sleep apnea. However, what most patients don’t realize is that a major part of CPAP treatment is to maintain the equipment. Considering sleep apnea is a very serious disorder and can even be fatal, one must pay attention to every aspect of their treatment, which also includes CPAP machine maintenance and care.
Taking care and maintaining your CPAP equipment isn’t too much of a hassle and you’ll only be taking out a few minutes from your schedule from time to time. Today, we’ll be providing you with a short guide to walk you through how you can go about maintaining and taking care of the different components of your CPAP equipment, along with some additional tips, to ensure you get the most life out of your CPAP equipment and it continues to work at 100% efficiency.
CPAP Mask and Filters
CPAP masks come with cushioning on the side to make them more comfortable to wear, and so that the mask has a proper grip on your face to prevent sliding off and interrupting treatment. This cushioning is usually made of silicone or some other gentle material so as to not cause any irritation to the skin. If you don’t maintain and take care of your CPAP mask, this cushioning will start to wear down and break away. So, whenever you wash your mask, make sure it’s in warm (not hot!) water and use a mild non-fragrant soap. You can also buy wipes and detergents that are designed specifically for CPAP masks.
After rinsing with water, keep your mask on a clean cloth or paper towel to let it dry, and make sure you don’t keep it in direct sunlight or your mask will break down faster than if you were to not maintain it at all. Once a week you can soak your mask in a solution made of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water, after which you need to rinse in distilled water and let dry as explained above. The tubing of the mask will need to be cleaned and soaked in a tub of warm soapy water, after which the tubing will need to be hung to dry, but not in direct sunlight.
The headgear and chin straps that detach from the mask should also be washed gently by hand in mild soap water, rinsed thoroughly, and air-dried. Some have opted to use a washing machine and dryer when washing the headgear and chinstraps, but that ends up being very costly as chances are they’ll be good for nothing afterward. Also, avoid using any facial moisturizers or oils before you go to bed, as the oils and chemicals in these products will wear the cushioning out even faster. Any replacements that might be needed in the mask should be according to manufacturer recommendations.
Your CPAP machine will also have a filter attached to the air pump which sucks the air out of the room. Depending on what type of CPAP mask you have, you’ll have either a removable filter or a permanently fixed one. In some cases, you might have both. Replace the removable filters exactly according to manufacturer guidelines. As for the permanent filter, make sure you clean it on a weekly basis and more regularly if you have pets or someone who smokes in the house.
Most CPAP machines nowadays have humidifiers built into the pump. This helps in preventing dry mouth and inflammation, which makes the treatment much more comfortable for patients. However, if your CPAP has this feature and you’re using it daily, then you need to make sure you clean it daily as well. Simply put, there’s a chance of bacteria buildup in the humidifier (given the humid conditions), and that bacteria can easily go into the airways, causing all manner of issues.
So every day take out the water chamber from the humidifier and wash it with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. As with the rest of your CPAP equipment, air dry it out of direct sunlight or use paper towels. Never use tap water in your humidifier. Instead, opt for distilled, sterile, or bottled water or, if you have the means, use water from a reverse osmosis plant. Soak the chamber in the same vinegar-water solution mentioned above at least once a week. Also, replace the chamber every six months or as needed.
Additional CPAP Tips
Maintenance and care for your CPAP machine become much easier if you make it a part of your morning routine. If you’re organized, then getting all of the above done shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Also, keep a track of all the replaceable components of your CPAP machine to ensure that you order replacements in a timely manner and your CPAP therapy continues unencumbered. However, sometimes maintenance goes even further than just keeping everything clean and organized.
There’s also the way you’re using and storing your machine to consider. Always keep your CPAP machine out of direct sunlight and when using it, make sure it is not near any objects that would restrict airflow to the pump, like curtains, and always place it on a level surface. Other than that, always use distilled or sterile water when you’re washing the CPAP machine components. No matter what happens, do not use bleach to clean any part of the CPAP machine under any circumstances whatsoever.
If you follow all these tips, you can rest assured of a comfortable CPAP therapy experience and a prolonged life for your CPAP machine. However, remember that nothing lasts forever and time causes its fair share of wear and tear. So, even if you are on point with all your maintenance and care, be ready for the occasional expense, as there’s a slight chance that some other components of the CPAP machine, like power cords, data cards, etc., might malfunction and would need replacing.
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