When you are new to the world of CPAP, it may seem a little overwhelming. There is a little bit of an adjustment phase and a learning curve you will go through.
To help ease your transition, here are five things that you should know if you are a CPAP user:
- Understanding what the difference between an APAP (Auto CPAP) and the standard CPAP is. The major difference between a standard CPAP machine and an APAP is how it operates. The APAP machine will adjust air pressure based on how you are breathing automatically. Your pressure needs may change depending on sleep position, stress level, health, and weight. APAP machines automatically adjust, keeping your pressure at the lowest setting possible that still effectively prevents apnea. A standard CPAP machine stays at a constant pressure, no matter what the situation is. To adjust a standard CPAP, you have to visit your doctor. With an APAP, all the adjusting is done for you and going to the doctor is not necessary.
- Cleaning your machine regularly is SUPER important. The moist environment in a CPAP machine is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold. These molds and bacteria can cause sinus and health problems- negating the purpose of your CPAP. Your tube and mask need to be cleaned every day. The headgear and humidifier need to be cleaned once a week. Clean your equipment with warm water and a mild, unscented soap. Never use vinegar or bleach on your CPAP.
- Stop tightening your headgear! If you have been wearing your mask for a while, you may find that it doesn’t seal quite like it had before. To make up for this, you may begin to tighten your headgear- which will gradually result in you becoming rather uncomfortable. Don’t do this! Instead, replace your seal. The seals can break down quicker than you think, creating a looser fit and sometimes a loud leak. You may want to consider keeping a backup seal handy. Many insurances will allow coverage for two nasal pillows/cushions a month and one full face cushion a month, check with your provider.
- You need to use distilled water. If you are using tap water in your humidifier, then eventually you may find that there are white deposits building up in the chamber, or that the bottom of the chamber has rusted through! This is because of the harsh minerals that can be found in tap water. Instead, use distilled water. It is gentle enough for your machine and will help prolong its useful life. If you are unable to obtain distilled water for a few days- like when you are on vacation- using tap water for this short time is okay. If you are in a place that is unsafe to drink the tap water, use bottled drinking water. But, switch back to distilled once you are home.
- Machine, mask, and tube connections are universal. What this means is, that if/when you decide to look for a new mask or machine you do not have to worry about compatibility issues- any machine works with any mask, regardless of model. Often, CPAP users believe their mask doesn’t work with their tube or CPAP machine and nothing they do will get the mask to fit on the tube. What this indicates is that a part of your old mask is still stuck in your tube. The ends of the tube should have rubber connections, if you find plastic, it is a part of your old mask. Get that plastic piece out by firmly holding the rubber tube end and pulling. Once the old plastic piece is out, you will find that your new mask fits perfectly.
Hopefully, you find these five tips every CPAP user should know helpful. If you have any questions about your CPAP machine, we welcome you to contact Valley Sleep Therapy or Valley Sleep Center.