CPAPs are one of the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatments. However, they do take some getting used to. Some people get so frustrated with their CPAP machine that they abandon it altogether. Don’t let that be you! To help those with sleep apnea have a better experience with their CPAP, we’ve put together this helpful page of CPAP info. If you have any questions or issues that we don’t address here, just let us know!
Getting the right CPAP Equipment
The most important factor in your CPAP experience is the equipment you use. This usually includes the mask, hose, and the CPAP machine itself. There are a lot of options available, and finding the best combination is key in treating your sleep apnea.
The Mask & Hose
If you’re having trouble adjusting to your mask, you aren’t alone. Most people try multiple CPAP masks before they find the one that’s right for them. There’s a lot to consider when choosing one to try. For example, how you sleep plays a big role in what type of mask may work best. Certain masks work better for those who lay on their back while others are better for people who sleep on their side. You can even buy special pillows designed to comfortably accommodate a CPAP hose for side sleepers.
The material of the mask is important as well. While it’s rare, some people have a sensitivity to the materials manufacturers use to make CPAP masks. You may also be experiencing some discomfort if your mask is too tight or too loose. Any of these factors could contribute to CPAP mask rash, a condition where people wake up with irritated skin around their mouths. If you’re experiencing mask rash, check out this article we wrote covering the probable causes, and what you can do to prevent it.
The CPAP Machine
Virtually every CPAP machine works the same way: they pump pressurized air through a tube and into your lungs to create a cushion along your upper airway. This is what prevents snoring and helps treat sleep apnea, which can cause high blood pressure and heart disease. Some people worry about the sound of the CPAP pump, but most modern brands are extremely quiet. If your CPAP is running loudly, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Check the air filter to make sure it is clean and unobstructed. If it’s still running loudly, you may need to consult the doctor or the CPAP manufacturer to make sure it is working properly.
Many CPAPs come equipped with a built-in humidifier, but not all of them. Without a humidifier, you may find yourself waking up to a dry mouth, a runny or stuffy nose, or even a burning sensation in your nasal cavity. If you’re struggling, this may be one of the best investments you can make. Studies have shown that people over 60 or those who take more than two daily medications are the most likely to need a CPAP humidifier to avoid these symptoms. Remember to use distilled water in your humidifier and to regularly change out the water.
Unfortunately, CPAP parts can’t be used forever. Each piece of CPAP equipment has a recommended lifespan before you need to get a new one. Here’s a quick list of how often you should be replacing CPAP equipment:
- Tubing needs to be replaced every 3 months, as this is where bacteria is most likely to develop and is the hardest to clean
- Masks need to be replaced every 3-6 months due to facial oils degrading the silicone over time.
- Humidifiers need to be replaced every six months due to wear and tear of use
- Nasal cushions, if you use them, should be replaced 1-2 times per month.
- CPAP filters vary by manufacturer, so check your user manual for the recommended replacement period.
If you take good care of your equipment by cleaning it regularly and following the manufacturer’s part replacement guidelines, your CPAP machine should serve you well for a long time.
Tips to getting used to your CPAP
The constant pressure of a CPAP can take some getting used to. For many people, this is the biggest obstacle to using one regularly. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help you quickly adjust to using it and start getting a better night’s sleep.
Try the autoramp feature
Most CPAP machines have an “autoramp” feature that allows you to slowly build to the pressure prescribed by your doctor. This slow onramp lets your body gradually adjust to the pressure, making it less noticeable than if you had started at full pressure. These phases usually last around 30 minutes, but vary by manufacturer and desired pressure level.
Practice makes perfect
Like most things, getting used to your CPAP is often just a matter of practice. If you want to acclimate to it quickly, it’s best to not just limit yourself to wearing it at night. Use it whenever you take a nap or are sitting and doing a stationary activity like reading or watching TV. It may be a struggle at first, but it is only a matter of time until you get used to your CPAP and effectively treating your sleep apnea.
Keeping your CPAP clean
CPAP manufacturers recommend maintaining your CPAP equipment daily to keep it free of bacteria and germs. Usually, this involves scrubbing it with soap and water. This process can be time and labor-intensive, especially if you take the time to properly wash the inside of a long CPAP air tube.
Fortunately, there are many devices out there that can support your CPAP equipment. These are generally broken down into two categories: UV light and ozone. While both do an excellent job at killing bacteria, UV light is limited to the exposed surfaces areas of CPAP equipment. This can make it difficult to fully treat masks, hoses, and humidifiers with crevices and nooks that light can’t reach. Ozone gas, on the other hand, can fully permeate an area and get where light can’t — meaning all exposed surfaces are treated.
If you’d like to learn more, you can see our full breakdown of UV Light vs. Ozone here.
A clean CPAP is a safe CPAP
Manually cleaning CPAP equipment every day can be a hassle, which unfortunately means that some people don’t do it. Skipping an occasional day here and there won’t have a big effect, but not cleaning CPAP equipment at all can have serious consequences.
A CPAP machine blows warm, moist air through a dark tube and ultimately to your mouth or nose, where you exhale back into it. This is a perfect breeding ground for many kinds of bacteria. In some cases, people have developed sinus infections or even pneumonia from their CPAP, because they were not properly maintaining it.
If you haven’t been regularly cleaning your equipment, there are some warning signs to look out for. The most obvious of these is discoloration around the mask area itself where you breathe. This may be a sign of mask mold, and you need to clean your CPAP accessories immediately before using them again.
One of the fastest, easiest ways to treat mask mold is with specialized cleaning wipes like our Mask M8tes. These individually packaged wipes are made specifically to clean the materials used in CPAP masks.
Traveling with your CPAP
Most airlines allow you to bring your CPAP on a plane in its case as a carry-on. However, many people run into issues when trying to travel with their CPAP companion.
The majority of ozone and UV light cleaners are big and bulky. They don’t work as a carry-on and they take up way too much room in a suitcase. Userscan always manually scrub their equipment, but that usually means bringing cleaning supplies with you.
There are small, low-profile CPAP ozone companions on the market but the vast majority of them are cheap and poorly made. This is a classic case of “you get what you pay for.” This is why we designed the Sleep8 to meet the highest standards in both quality and portability. The Sleep8 is every bit as effective as larger machines (if not more so) and still small enough to go with you on work trips and vacations.
Try Sleep8 Today
Sleep8 helps maintain your CPAP equipment. Its one-button operation and near-silent operation have made it a favorite for hundreds of thousands of CPAP users. Get it risk-free today with our 30-day money-back guarantee.