Can Your CPAP Machine Make You Sick?

Can CPAP Make You Sick?

If you’re one of the millions of Americans with sleep apnea, the nightly use of your CPAP device is critical to remaining compliant with your treatment plan, as well as staying healthier and more productive. So, here’s the big question we hear all the time:  can a dirty CPAP make you sick? Yes, Virginia, there is a cleaning clause. Your CPAP machine can make you sick, especially for those who’ve neglected to follow the recommended cleaning schedule for their CPAP device - or worse - don’t bother cleaning it at all! Thankfully, this kind of neglect is rare, but it does happen. ‘Nuff said. 

Happily, there are many simple things we can all do to decrease our risk of exposure to viruses and bacteria that could make us sick. We all know the drill by now: clean, disinfect, protect. Repeat. For people using CPAP, APAP, or Bi-PAP devices for treatment of sleep apnea, taking extra precautions are in order, as sleep apnea is strongly correlated to many severe or chronic health conditions, and these conditions can also make people more vulnerable to contracting coronavirus. Conditions can include your age (the elderly make up a significant portion of severe COVID-19 cases and related deaths), plus any of the following:

  • Asthma
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • COPD
  • Endocrine/Metabolic Disorders

How Does a CPAP Machine Make You Sick?

Let us count the ways! Remember, CPAP and other sleep apnea treatment devices are specifically designed to help people become healthier by helping them get better quality, more consistent sleep. Nightly use of your CPAP device is critical to remaining compliant with your treatment plan, as well as staying healthier and more productive. 

The problem? Too many people fall out of compliance with their treatment plan, putting them back to square one, and at greater risk for health problems. And far too many neglect to clean their device and accessories regularly. Remember, all night long, you’re breathing the air that’s circulating through the machine, so it’s essential to make sure it’s as pure and clean as possible. Just think about it. While the tubing, your mask, and other parts of the device might look clean, all sorts of nasty germs, mold, dust, and bacteria can and will build up inside, putting you at risk for developing respiratory tract irritation or even a respiratory infection. If you’re not yet convinced, we have a clincher for you...

Why Keeping Your CPAP Machine Clean is Critical to Your Health

Taking risks with sleep apnea is no joking matter. A recent discovery by scientific researchers has uncovered an alarming correlation between obstructive sleep apnea as a preexisting condition and an increased risk of becoming a severe COVID-19 case should you contract the virus! You can learn more about it here.

Even without the COVID-19 factor, you MUST clean your CPAP machine and accessories on a regular basis. Manufacturers recommend regular cleaning of CPAP masks, tubing, and water chambers with liquid soap or vinegar and hot water. This will help prevent the buildup of bacteria, mold, and dust that cause irritation or respiratory infections, or worse. 

For those who hate the CPAP cleaning chore, why gamble with your health? CPAP sterilization units are another option to help keep your CPAP device, mask, and tubing squeaky clean and free of germs and other contaminants. While daily cleaning is preferable and a lot more convenient when using a CPAP sterilization unit, we recommend cleaning your CPAP mask, hose, and the machine’s water chamber at the very least once per week. That’s it. Following your treatment protocol and regular cleaning of your device can help you stay healthier, so as the good folks at Nike say, just do it.

One final note - if you suspect you might have obstructive sleep apnea, don’t wait. Consult a sleep specialist today. Treatment and management of sleep apnea along with other sleep disorders can help improve your health and possibly save your life.

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