CPAP SUPPLIES: Cleaning, Replacing and Traveling
by a former Registered Respiratory Therapist
WHERE IT ALL BEGINS:
CPAP = Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is used for symptoms of sleep apnea diagnosed through a sleep study test called a Polysomogram. Some symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, sore throat after sleeping or very dry throat, sleepiness during the day, morning headaches, wake up sometimes gasping or choking, lack of energy during the day, restless sleep, recurrent awakening or insomnia.
TIP: If you still are experiences the symptoms of sore throat or dryness after getting started on CPAP at home check with your physician to have them prescribe humidification for your unit.
Cleaning, Replacing, & TravelingCPAP supplies
Most all of the CPAP supplies you need can be found on the internet or through your local home care company once you have a prescription from your physician know exactly what you need to order. This website is to help you better understand the use of the CPAP supplies and give you information that can help you with your CPAP experience as a patient or family member of a patient.
CLEANING CPAP MASKS
Cleaning to be done DAILY with your CPAP masks. First wash your hands and make sure the area where you clean your CPAP equipment is sanitized. Then remove the headgear from the mask. And disconnect any CPAP masks you in use from the whisper swivel and tubing. Take mild soap and warm water and gently wash your mask, whisper swivel and tubing assembly. Also rinse warm soapy water through the inside of the tubing. Then rinse everything you washed with warm water and air dry throughout the day. Once it is all dry reassemble. IMPORTANT: Never use alcohol this will cause skin irritation and breakdown the plastics.
CLEANING TUBING AND HEADGEAR
Once per WEEK wash the tubing and headgear in warm, soapy water in a sink or basin. Disinfect the tubing and all CPAPsupplies in an organic solution of one-part white vinegar and 3 or 4 parts water. Allow all parts to sit in the solution for about 30-45 minutes. Then rinse all parts in warm water and allow to air dry. This is a good time to check filters and see if they need to be changed. Then either change or clean these filters.
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CLEANING HUMIDIFIER CHAMBERS
Humidifier chambers must be drained daily and weekly wash with soapy water and disinfect with vinegar/water solution. After disinfection, remember to completely rinse well with warm water. Allow to air dry.
TIP: Distilled water is recommended for use on a daily schedule. If you really need to use tap water be sure to rinse well and return to distilled water as soon as possible to keep mineral build from within the humidifier chamber and tubing.
Cleaning filters will depend on your system. Usually there are two filters. One filter is disposable according to manufacturer guidelines. The other filter is usually a permanent filter which you clean the dust out according to manufacturer guidelines. Filters are normally replaced every 4-6 weeks, and the non-disposables are cleaned a minimum of once per week. Find out from your therapist or home care company which or disposable and which to clean the dust out of and remember keeping the filters clean prolongs the life of your CPAP machine.
IN SUMMARY CHANGING OUT OR REPLACING YOUR CPAP SUPPLIES AND CPAP MACHINE
With the CPAP MASK or BIPAP MASK it is usually once they no longer function properly with the seal (such as the seal wearing out) or every some people do change them out every three months. Remember, as a rule of thumb is best to have an extra mask on standby so when you are cleaning or one becomes unusable you have a back-up mask.
The same holds true for your CPAP HEADGEAR (HEADGEAR should last much longer), CPAP TUBING, whether you have a FULL FACE MASK or ORAL CPAP MASK.
I have seen it suggested to change our your CPAP CHIN STRAP EVERY 6 months (again it depends how well it is tightening your mask and is comfortable}.
As far as DISPOSABLE FILTERS 2 new filters every month. NON-DISPOSABLE FILTERS new every six months.
HUMIDIFIER CHAMBER change out depends a lot on mineral build up so it is best to use distilled water to prolong its life.
The CPAP MACHINE itself should last you for years. Most insurance will allow you to upgrade your machine every 5 years.
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Don’t check in your machine so it doesn’t get broken. It will not be counted as one of your “carry on” bags. Also keep a copy of your prescription with you in case you need it.
Call your airline to get information for getting it through security and on the plane. Most airlines will NOT let you use CPAP during the flight so call your airlines ahead of time to make special arrangements if you need to.
DRIVING OR CAMPING
If your CPAP MACHINE has the ability to run off a 12 V you will be able to plug into your cigarette lighter or use the battery. Make sure you have the proper adapters. Check your users manual to see if you can run it off a 12 V. This is all going to depend on the life of your battery and the pressures you are using on your machine. If you use oxygen with your CPAP machine make sure you have a portable oxygen tank. Talk to your therapist and doctor to see if liquid oxygen is an option as those tanks are the smallest.
Featured image sourced Rachel Tayse via Flickr.