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Updated on 05/22/2020.
This article is evidence-based, verified by Dr. Ahmed Zayed.
Several reasons keep people awake at night, no matter how tired they are. Some individuals also wake up several times throughout the night for several reasons. Lack of (adequate) sleep can affect your general wellbeing, productivity, and energy levels throughout the day.
Lack of sleep can be caused by “soft issues,” such as taking too much caffeine during the day to relatively psychological severe conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression. For some, it is caused by a condition known as Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
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Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is highly prevalent and a severe sleep disorder. It affects almost 1 billion adults on a global scale between the ages of 30 and 69. Of all those affected, 95% are experiencing mild to severe symptoms, statistics show.
Despite the high prevalence, the number of affected individuals is steadily increasing, stated the National Institutes of Health. But, to manage the condition, patients first need to understand it.
This health problem occurs when the muscles in the throat start to relax at irregular intervals, instead of slowly and steadily. As a result, the airways become blocked, creating difficulties while sleeping.
The condition blocks the air for a brief moment during sleep. Due to the narrow air passages, patients are prone to loud snoring.
The exact moment when the breathing stops is what we call an apneic episode. For patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the healthy flow of air is continuously blocked the entire night.
But, if the condition is left untreated, it can have some severe repercussions on the overall health. For many patients, it can result in:
- Heart condition
Otherwise, it is a manageable condition.
The CPAP is the gold standard for managing and controlling chronic diseases that stop breathing for more than 10 sec. Patients suffering from OSA can use it as an effective therapy to boost the air pressure and prevent the airways from narrowing when inhaling.
This tool is designed to add pressure and filter out the air before delivering it to the tubes. The device features a mask that often completely covers the mouth and the nose. It is connected to the CPAP machine via tubes designed to transfer the air from the machine into the nose.
Without a CPAP, patients would have trouble normalizing their breathing patterns during sleep, which will make it challenging to maintain the proper oxygen levels in the system and sleep well.
Based on reports, CPAP is a highly efficient tool for removing any obstructive respiratory issues that may trigger an apneic episode.
The tool is designed to reduce the possibility of snoring and improve the quality of sleep. It also has a dramatic effect on lowering apneic episodes and boosting the quality of life, studies show.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with OSA and your doctor recommended a CPAP machine, it’s imperative to ask them for the pressure of the settings you should use.
According to Dr. Carlos Nunez, a Chief Medical Officer, every patient may experience the disease differently. In other words, depending on the severity and type of the condition, only the doctor can determine the right airflow pressure to use.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Just like any other device, the CPAP requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Not only will it help the device last longer, but it will also reduce your exposure to bacteria. Luckily, cleaning the equipment is not as hard as it looks. You need to know the right steps.
A CPAP has many parts and connections, and each piece should be cleaned correctly to ensure it remains safe and effective. But, not many patients are familiar with all the parts of the device, including how often they should clean them.
That’s why we’ve decided to compile the most practical information on how to clean the machine. But, before we show you how to do it, here are a few cleaning tips you should master based on each part.
Almost all CPAP devices feature a humidification system. It is responsible for decreasing the chance of a dry mouth and inflamed nasal turbinates.
But, what most patients don’t know is that these turbinates calcify and build up bacteria over time. It’s imperative to clean the humidifier every day to avoid exposing your body to potentially dangerous bacteria.
Tip: When you use the machine, keep it away from curtains or various objects that may hinder its process. They may interfere with the humidifier and make inhaling more difficult. So, check the surroundings before you place the machine.
Also, don’t forget to replace the humidifier. The ideal replacement period would be six months after usage. But, you can use it longer if it’s necessary.
Mask and Tubes
Probably the most critical feature of the CPAP is the mask. You have direct contact with the silicone as soon as you start using the machine. But, if you don’t take good care of it, it will break apart faster than you might expect. Wash the mask daily.
The tubes, however, don’t require such regular washing and will still work if you clean them every week. Also, it would help if you replaced the mask cushions once or twice a month and the mask every 3 to 6 months.
The filters are placed very close on the back of the machine. These are the tools responsible for drawing the air and delivering it to the lungs. Try to clean these filters once a week. The good thing is, you don’t have to clean the machine itself. You should dust it, and it will be ready for use.
Tip: If you are an avid smoker, or you live in a dusty place with pets, you might have to replace the filters more often than that.
While it may be challenging to get used to the cleaning schedule, you mustn’t skip on your cleaning routine. Do it in the morning when you have more time to spare.
Things you should take note of
- Your equipment must be kept clean. Keep in mind the fact that you are going to breathe in anything that develops there.
- Clean up your equipment more often if you took ill recently.
- Please always follow the instructions of your medical and device providers and the manufacturer to clean your CPAP.
- Cleaning your equipment in a washing machine is not recommended as it may be damaged.
How to clean your CPAP
Here are a few tips you can use to clean your machine effectively:
- Dismantle CPAP machine components. Disable the CPAP system from its energy source because if you do not, there can be a risk of electric shock. Remove the mask from the tubing of the CPAP. Remove it or unplug it if your mask has a headgear. If you can easily connect with other pieces, you can separate them as well. If connected directly, detach the CPAP tubing from any connections, the humidifier outlet, or the CPAP system itself. If you have a water chamber, remove and separate it into its parts from CPAP’s humidifier unit when they are present. Although most modern water chambers are free, they cannot be divided into various sections.
- Grab a soft cloth and pour warm liquid on it. Clear the dust softly from the outer CPAP layer. (Ensure that as you do this, it is not connected to its electrical power source.)
- Get a small container, bath, or sink and fill with warm water. A little bit of mild dish soap should be added. Depending on your preference, a tiny amount of vinegar should do the trick. In the warm soapy water, sink the headgear, mask, tubing, and any plugs. Enable it to wash for a little while, preferably 30 minutes. Wipe the mask out with fuzzy clothes and warm water, then shake the tubing with soapy water. Enable all to dry up on a towel or hang it (e.g., over the bathroom shower curtain). Ideally, these things should be washed each day, but at least each week. Using hot water and soap, the liquid chamber of the humidifier should be cleaned. You can also consider air drying.
- There are filters in operation on some CPAP systems. It is essential to check the instructions of your manufacturer or ask your supplier how they should be maintained. Some of them can be rinsed, but others have to be replaced. Your decision to do this will depend on the environment in which the machine is used. Usually, the removal of filters is to be done at least once a month and perhaps as often as every two weeks.
- Eventually, the various parts are installed again after everything has been permitted to air dry. Place the mask on the headwear, put it back on the pipe and any clips and attach the tube back to the humidifier or the CPAP unit. Switch the machine on briefly and hear for air leaks previously nonexistent.
Which material should you use in cleaning your CPAP?
Did you know: If you don’t clean the CPAP, it can become moldy?
Just like any medical device, the CPAP needs to be kept squeaky clean. Since the parts of the machine come into contact with water vapor, it becomes vulnerable to mold, yeast, bacteria, and all sorts of dangerous pathogens.
To avoid getting sick, you need to remove that moist and hot environment by regularly disinfecting the device. But, most importantly, you have to do it the right way with the right materials.
Water with Soap
In reality, it can be time-consuming and painful to disassemble the mask and tear it down and wash it with soap and water (as described above). If the surfaces in humidifiers, masks, and hoses are hard to reach, they can become a significant breeding ground for bacteria if it is not done with extreme care for details.
The fact that the very way of cleaning is by using tap water can be a potential source of germs also makes this method less optimum.
For more effective results, it is best to rely on distilled water instead. It can remove more than 90% of the bacteria, depending on how well you scrub the surface.
Although it can seem, at first sight, more convenient for consumers to clean CPAP equipment with specially designed wipes, it is indeed more harmful than good. Wipes cannot clean inside the hose, however, and researchers have only looked at the pathogens a few years ago, when the wipes–although formulated explicitly for cleaning CPAP equipment–were found to only transfer bacteria from one place to another, rather than eliminating pathogens.
Water with Vinegar
Such a cleaning process, like the soap and water procedure, requires users firstly to dismantle their CPAP. The machinery should then be drained for at least 20 minutes, thoroughly rinsed, and finally completely cleaned. There is, therefore, a risk for CPAP patients to add bacteria to the device at several stages-and this is a time-consuming procedure in itself.
This process is an advancement in soap and water because it does not introduce humidity into the appliances. Nevertheless, several experiments have shown that light does not penetrate dark portions of the mask and hose so that bacteria and germs are theoretically left untouched in those places where light may not be seen. Besides, in the shaft, inside the machine or water in the reservoir, the UV light will not kill bacteria.
Activated oxygen is formed when the molecular oxygen we breathe (O2) establishes a new (O3) molecule, which is joined with a third oxygen atom (O). The new active oxygen molecule (also named ozone) is remarkably capable of oxidation death in species, including bacteria and viruses. While activated oxygen is powerful, its half-life is relatively short. It returns to oxygen’s original state in about 2 hours after it is generated.
The use of activated oxygen (ozone) in cleaners such as SoClean has shown many advantages over other ways of CPAP cleaning. Ozone, which is naturally occurring gas, is extremely safe when it is correctly used as has proven to work effectively in purifying water since the 1800s.
Which Method is best for you?
While your CPAP machine can be cleaned manually, it takes time, and you have to take it off to clean it manually. Moreover, cleaning it with a device is recommended by the majority of experts and increases the chances of cleaning the equipment as you ought to.
You require filtered water to clean manually, and a regular vinegar cleaner while washing by hand is recommended. Also, your CPAP is disassembled and reassembled every day. You don’t have to dismantle the CPAP with a cleaning device. It’s quick and straightforward.
In all these, you need to get the best machine cleaner, and that is why I recommend the SoClean 2 CPAP cleaner.
SoClean CPAP Cleaner
By using activated oxygen (known as ozone or O3), the SoClean device cleans CPAP masks. It is found in nature and is the tool of cleaning equipment, waste treatment, and sanitizing facilities used by hospitals. To order to confirm the effects of sanitization of CPAP masks on your computer, SoClean offers unbiased test information on its website.
The results show that 99,9-99,99% of bacteria are killed by the Soclean process. It’s more successful than you will probably get your CPAP equipment cleaned manually.
Does SoClean work for you?
SoClean is the best way to clean up and then put together in the evening to help CPAP users fight the disadvantage of disrupting their equipment every morning.
It is also great for users of CPAP who are highly concerned about bacteria and infection.
The standard unit is the safest for people who usually spend most of the nights in their rooms next to a CPAP machine. There is a mobile passenger transport device.
How SoClean Functions
This cleaning device is attached to your moisturizer next to your CPAP. Once you awake in the morning, you just open the top of SoClean and bring your helmet into the device (headgear and all) and shut the roof, rather than remove your cap, tubing and water chamber to take it apart, clean it and dry it off. Hold the mask and humidifier attached to the tubing.
Every morning, once you set the cycle time for 2 hours, the SoClean unit will be automatically activated. It uses no water or chaotic chemicals, and it is still completely dry in your equipment.
The instrument works by generating activated oxygen, which is pumped into the mask, tube and water chamber. Some bacteria, algae, viruses or fungi that come into contact with it are killed by the activated oxygen.
Just remove the mask (with each component attached) when you get to bed that night and put your mask and go to sleep— the usual procedure.
Clean well, sleep well. No stress!
Given the various options provided to clean your CPAP machine (manually and automatically with SoClean), the choice is yours to make — whether you would like to be more manual by dismantling all components and giving yourself a new task, or you would like to drop your device into the SoClean equipment and allow it to do the job for you.
In the end, make sure your CPAP device is always clean for you to sleep well and feel refreshed the next day.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD, holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.