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With the continuous positive airway pressure machines, you can treat your obstructive sleep apnea and other breathing and sleep-related problems. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a temporary loss of breath while sleeping. The CPAP machines are electronic devices that help you breathe at night without any difficulties and improve your sleep quality. They suck in the outside air with a fan inside, humidify the air in the room, pressurize it and release it through a hose into your face mask.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
As we mentioned, sleep apnea is a medical problem that occurs during the night when you have complete or partial obstructions which are blocking your airways and causing you to lose breath. These obstructions cause shallow breathing and temporary breath loss. Because of sleep apnea, you can repeatedly stop breathing for short periods through the night. The word apnea itself refers to the pause in breathing that can last minimally ten seconds.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type people have. It happens when the airway is blocked, which causes you to stop breathing for a brief period, loud snoring, and it may even wake you up. In most cases, you are not aware that you have this problem until somebody who sleeps near you notices and tells you. Because of sleep apnea, you can be chronically sleep deprived, and experience symptoms like poor concentration, slow reflexes, daytime sleepiness, depression, irritability, moodiness, increased risk of accidents, and some serious physical health issues like heart disease, liver problems, weight gain, and diabetes. Some of the factors that cause sleep apnea depend on your anatomy while others are caused by injuries to the nose and nasal passageways.
What Does a CPAP Machine Do?
The Continuous positive airway pressure machine is an electronic device that helps you breathe. It is considered the best sleep apnea treatment, especially for the obstructive type. The components of these machines include airflow generator, humidifier, connective hose, filter and a face mask that is sold separately. The airflow generator is located inside a small box with a motorized fan. It pulls the air in, and through the hose and mask, it gives the pressurized air to the person. Inside the machine is also a detachable humidifier that warms the water with which the air is humidified and delivered to the person. Apart from that, there is an intake filter responsible for the prevention of air contamination by allergens. This filter is replaceable when needed. The connective hose is the part that transports the air from the generator to the mask, and it is usually from three to six inches long.
The mask has to be purchased separately but is still a vital part of the machine. Masks are available in different styles and shapes to fit the needs of all users, and you can choose any type of mask. The only requirement is that the hose fits. However, there are four general types of masks – the full face mask that goes around the mouth and nose and three nasal types of masks that either go on the nose, beneath the nose or have seals around nostrils without any contact with the nose.
CPAP Machine Cleaning and Maintenance
As with any machine, the Continuous positive airway pressure machines require cleaning as well. If you do not clean it regularly, it will be covered in dust, pet dander, mold, bacteria, and more. Cleaning the machine can help avoid allergy symptoms, mold exposure, bacteria exposure, mineralization within the equipment, foul odor, and premature equipment breakdown. The mask, tube and the water chamber should be cleaned daily. It might seem excessive, but this is the best way to prevent the risk of any infection, mold exposure oral allergy reactions. For the best hygiene, the entire equipment should be cleaned and maintained weekly.
CPAP Machine – How to Clean It?
If you are grossed out just by thinking of bacteria living and growing in the machine, you can easily keep your machine clean and bacteria-free. All you need to do is to regularly sanitize it by getting and using a special CPAP sanitizing machine. However, they can be fairly expensive, but if you follow the tips on how to clean your CPAP machine regularly, you will be able to save money. It’s essential to clean it regularly and wipe down the outside of the device using a damp cloth. We will now go through some tips to keep your machine clean and bacteria-free, which is easy as you need regular cleaning supplies from your house. We will give you information on how to clean a CPAP machine with vinegar or just soap.
The first step is to clean the humidifier in the machine. You should clean your humidifier every morning to prevent risks of allergies, infections or mold exposure. The best way to clean it is to take a bucket and fill it with soap and warm water. Empty water from the chamber of the humidifier, if any, and put it in that water to soak for several minutes. When it dries, you should use distilled water to fill it, and don’t use filtered or tap water as it can contain chemicals that can cause damage to the machine. To dry it you should leave it on a clean cloth and avoid putting it in direct sunlight. Apart from doing this every morning, you also have to give the humidifier a good sterilize by soaking it in a mixture of water and vinegar for 20 minutes once every week. Replace them two times per year at least. Certain humidifier chambers are dishwasher safe, but before cleaning in a dishwasher, you need to check the manual of your CPAP machine to be sure.
Another important step is cleaning the mask. They are made from silicone to provide excellent comfort but they adversely affect durability and longevity. Silicone is a material that breaks easily if you don’t take care of it. There are special cleaning fluids that are extra-gentle and made especially for cleaning your CPAP mask. If you want, you can also put it in a mixture of water and mild liquid soap. Just be sure to dry it away from sunlight. Also, the same as with the humidifier, you should sanitize your mask once every week by putting it in a mixture of water and vinegar for 20-30 minutes. After that, rinse it with distilled water and dry it by leaving it on a clean cloth away from sunlight. The masks need to be replaced at least two to four times a year. However, the cushions need to be replaced once or even twice a month.
Every morning, you can wipe the mask down with delicate CPAP mask wipes that won’t break the silicone. Their price is around 10$, and they will last three months. It is also good to use a disinfectant towel every morning. Additionally, you should clean your face every evening before going to bed without using any moisturizer. Moisturizers can have chemicals that can negatively impact the silicone on the mask. Lastly, we would advise against cleaning your CPAP mask in a dishwasher.
Tubes, Headgear and Chin Straps
Apart from the mask, you should also clean the tubes once a week. Every week, you will need to soak it in a mixture of liquid soap and water, and then clean it with a special brush for cleaning the tubes of CPAP machines. The cost of these brushes ranges from $8 to $12. After finishing all the cleaning, just let them dry in direct sunlight. The headgear and chin straps of the machine need to be cleaned by hand. You can clean them with a mixture of warm water and soap. After that, just let them dry. Never put them in a washing machine or dryer. And never use any chemicals, like bleach, to clean your headgear because the soft material will soak up these chemicals and irritate and harm your skin.
As for filters, they also need to be cleaned. They have the vital task of purifying the air of the room. When the CPAP machine pulls the air from the room, that air goes into the filters at the back of the machine. Most of these machines have a gray filter that is reusable, and a white disposable filter. The gray filter needs to be cleaned at least once a week. In case you have any pets, smoke or rarely dust the room, they should be cleaned more often. Cleaning is very easy, just rinse it and leave it to fully dry before putting it back into the CPAP machine, and replace it once every six months. White filters can’t be cleaned, but that is not a problem. Everything will be okay if you replace them on a monthly basis.
Cleaning the machine and its parts is vital. However, it is crucial to replace all the parts regularly too. How often the parts need to be replaced is determined by your care of them. That’s why you need to clean and maintain your CPAP machine. Regular cleaning will prolong the device’s lifespan and save you money that you would spend on the parts.
Having a cleaning routine is essential. Sticking to the routine will give you a successful therapy with the CPAP and prevent illness or allergies. The additional 5 minutes is all it takes to prepare the cleaning supplies, leave the parts to soak, come back later to take them out and leave them to dry, before putting it back.
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Iva is an art historian and an art lover who always had a passion for writing and sleep! When she is not researching and testing new mattresses on the market, you can find her binge-watching TV shows, eating tons of junk food or playing with her dog Bart.