sleep apnea treatment maskContinuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines can help people suffering from sleep apnea get a full night’s sleep. These machines are effective for reducing fatigue caused by obstructive sleep apnea. Millions of people benefit from the use of CPAP. As with many medical devices, your CPAP machine needs cleaning at least once a week for maximum effectiveness. Studies on the risk of infection from CPAP machines are limited, but it is a good idea to take measures to avoid the risk, no matter how small it may be. Taking the time to sanitize your machine can reduce any risk of infection and the rare chance of infestation.

Harboring Bacteria

You are the first owner of your CPAP machine. Any bacteria inside of it comes from your lungs and mouth as you breathe at night. Your body has already developed an immunity, so these germs aren’t likely to make you sick. When you have a cold, you should take extra care to clean your CPAP so that you do not continuously expose yourself to the germs your body is struggling to fight off. Your body can use all of the help it can get when battling sickness.

Cultivating Yeast and Mold

Greater than the risk of bacterial infection is the risk of mold or yeast colonies growing inside of the machine. CPAP machines offer warm, moist environments for mold to grow in. The internal workings of the machine are made of medical-grade materials that are difficult for bacteria and mold spores to hold onto, but the risk should never be ignored. Breathing in spores can result in bronchitis and other long-lasting respiratory infections that could keep your immune system struggling for weeks.

Hitchhiking Parasites

Frequent travelers know that when you visit many places, you risk picking up bed bugs. These invasive parasites can work their way into your clothes, shoes, and suitcases. Some people have raised concerns that bed bugs could even hitch a ride in the crevices of your CPAP machine. Bed bugs usually choose cloth and wood hiding places over plastic and metal, though the possibility exists that they could hide in CPAP machines. If you are worried about this risk, it is best to disassemble your device and clean it thoroughly after travel to eliminate this possibility. The EPA recommends bagging cloth items that show signs of infestation in plastic for 7 to 12 months to stop the infestation from spreading.

Cleaning Your CPAP Machine

The mask of your CPAP machine should be cleaned at least once a day when possible. Wiping down the inside and outside surfaces with warm water and a cloth should only take a few minutes. Check the specific care instructions for your particular machine before using any kind of gentle soap. The rest of your machine should be cleaned at least once a week. You should be able to disassemble the machine in order to clean each piece individually.

Never use alcohol, perfumed soaps, or bleach-based cleaners on your machine. These substances can irritate your lungs and make you sick. You should also avoid putting any of the components into the dishwasher or washing machine. Components are not generally designed to withstand the high pressure and heat inside of these household appliances. If you do not always have the time to clean your CPAP machine, you may benefit from machines that are designed to clean it for you.

Preventative sanitation could protect your health. Although CPAP is a beneficial machine that helps protect your health, it requires your care too. Your health is important, and should never be left to chance. To learn more about the benefits of CPAP for treating your sleep apnea, please contact Dr. Lowrance’s office at (361) 851-8274 for a consultation.