There is a lot of great information circulating about CPAP Therapy and Sleep Apnea. Here, we’ve provided answers to questions we get asked about our products and services. If you’ve read or heard something about Sleep Therapy, Sleep Apnea or CPAP Machines that is not answered here and you would like to run by a professional, please feel free to contact us.
Sleep Apnea affects both men and women, young and old, tall, short, skinny, heavy. There are certain risk factors (such as weight) that can affect your chances of suffering from sleep apnea but it should not be thought of as an overweight men’s condition.
While it is quite possible that a decrease in your weight may change the severity of your Sleep Apnea, it does not necessarily mean you do not have it or require CPAP any longer. After with a large weight decrease the severity of your Sleep Apnea can decrease and may affect your required CPAP pressures. The best thing to do if this is the case is to contact Absolute Respiratory and/or your Sleep Lab.
Simply put, Sleep Apnea is when you stop breathing in your sleep.
In a healthy person, as they start to reach deep sleep (stage 3, 4 and REM) the muscles relax slightly and your breathing rate slows down. This is normal and should happen, to a certain extent. However, in someone who has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the muscles relax too much, to the point that relaxed muscles block off the airway which is what causes them to stop breathing. When this happens, the blood oxygen level will drop and the brain will wake up. When someone suffers from sleep apnea this cycle happens all night long, where the airway is blocked, the oxygen drops and the brain wakes up, over and over.
The gold standard of treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is called, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine will provide pressurized room air, through the machine to a mask via a hose, which acts as a stent by using the pressurized air to keep the airway open and clear. Each person’s Sleep Apnea is different and the setting of their CPAP machine must be prescribed by a Sleep Physician. With a CPAP machine the airway is being kept open and someone with Sleep Apnea will not stop breathing and will reach deep sleep with no problems!
- Gasping and/or choking through the night
- General fatigue
- Disruptive sleep
- Frequent urination in the night
- Memory loss
- Morning headaches
- Uncontrollable diabetes
- Uncontrollable high blood pressure
- Weight problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Poor judgment abilities
It is normal that as a mask ages (especially when it is over a year old) the seal will leak as it wears. This is often an indicator that it is time to be replaced. However, if you mask is not very old and you still suffer from mask leaks, there are some way to help reduce this:
- Trim your facial hair. Thick beards & moustaches can cause your mask to have larger than acceptable leakage.
- Clean your mask. By cleaning the seal of your mask daily and the entire mask weekly, you will help keep the body oils & skin cells off your mask. A build up of these can cause your mask seal to leak.
- Ensure you are wearing it properly. If your mask is not sitting where it is designed to fit on your face, your mask leak will increase. If you are not sure if you are wearing it properly, check with your provider on the proper fit.
Absolute Respiratory provides a selection of major brand replacement masks in our online store for your convenience.
It is not uncommon to find water condensation, often called CPAP rainout in your CPAP hose; however this can be quite uncomfortable and noisy while you are trying to sleep. Signs of condensation could be runny nose or sore throat. Try these options:
- Try using a heated hose. If your CPAP machine is able to have a heated hose integrated into it, this will alleviate condensation issues almost immediately. Note that not all machines have the ability to have a heated hose, so if you are unsure, check with your provider if this is an option for you.
- If you are unable to integrate a heated hose into your CPAP machine, the next best solution is using an insulated tube wrap. These items are available from your provider and can help provide an insulated barrier around your hose
Absolute Respiratory provides a selection of heated CPAP hoses and insulating wraps in our online store for your convenience.
Dryness can be a serious issue for people using CPAP, here are some ways to alleviate this:
- Increase your humidity. The most common fix to dry mouth is adjusting the humidity level on your CPAP machine. You may just require a higher setting than what you are using.
- Try a different mask. You may be using a nasal mask and your mouth may be falling open, resulting in a dry mouth. Visit your provider to trial a full mask to see if this helps alleviate your dryness.
- Review your medications with your pharmacist or physician. Often, medications on their own can cause dryness, and combined with your CPAP, can cause troubles. If this is the case it is best to have a review of your medications.
One of the most common things that CPAP users forget about once they have been using CPAP for a while is regular cleaning and care for your CPAP. While parts of your CPAP and mask do need replacing on a regular basis, cleaning and caring for them properly will ensure they reach their proper lifespans.
What to Clean Daily
The seal of the mask is the one item that should get cleaned daily. This is recommended because your mask seal sits on your face all night long collecting body oils and skin cells. This can be done with mild soap and water or CPAP Wipes. This is the only item that needs to get cleaned daily.
What to Clean Weekly
The hose, water chamber and entire mask need to be cleaned on a weekly basis. The hose should be submersed in warm soapy water, soak, rinse with water and hang to dry. There is also a brush available to assist cleaning the tube. The water chamber should also be sumbersed in warm soapy water, soak, rinse with water and hung to dry. Some water chambers are dishwasher safe for the top rack of your dishwasher. If you are not sure if your water chamber is dishwasher safe, check with your vendor. The entire mask should also be cleaned weekly, including the seal, frame and headgear. This can also be sumbersed in warm soapy water, soak, rinsed with water and hung to dry. It is not recommended to wash headgears in the washing machine on a regular basis.
What to Clean With:
Mild liquid soaps are the best to clean with. This includes many forms of liquid hand soaps and dishsoaps. CPAP cleaning wipes and spray cleanser are also available.
What NOT to Clean With
Avoid rubbing alcohol or products containing it, because it is a drying agent and will dry out the mask silicone and break it down faster. It is also recommended to avoid Lemon based dish soaps because the lemon properties can break down the silicone faster as well. Soaps that have large amounts of moisturizer or are scented are also best if avoided. Also avoid laundry detergents.
Absolute Respiratory provides CPAP cleaning supplies in our online store for your convenience.
If you are planning on going somewhere and will be traveling by car, taking your CPAP with you doesn’t require too much preparation. If you are traveling within Canada you will want to pack your CPAP in its carry bag and possibly bring a spare bottle of distilled water with you. You can often purchase distilled water when you get to your destination if you do not wish to bring it with you. If you are traveling by car but crossing the border you may want to bring a couple other things with you. We recommended that once you pack up your CPAP for traveling, if you are crossing the border you bring a copy of your prescription as well a copy of your invoice to prove where you purchased it.
When traveling with your CPAP you want to make sure you pack up your CPAP and mask in its carry case and take it as a carry-on baggage. Medical equipment is usually allowed as an extra carry on, by most airlines, but it is also a good idea to phone ahead and confirm with the airline. When flying, I always recommend that you take a copy of your prescription and invoice with you, this just shows the equipment is required medical equipment and that it is in fact yours. Remember, if you do not take your CPAP as a carry on and you do put it in checked baggage, if it is damaged it will likely not be covered under manufacturer’s warranties.
All new CPAP/APAP/BPAP machines come with a 3 year manufacturer warranty on them. During this time, if something fails on your machine, bring it into our office and we will replace it immediately and send it back to the manufacturer so that you do not have to. We also offer an extended warranty, which is 2 years extra, taking the warranty from 3 years to 5 years. Please contact us for more information on extended warranties.