How to Use and Clean Your CPAP Equipment
What it is:
A CPAP or Bi-level machine delivers air through a mask while a patient sleeps. CPAP is a pressure to help your airway stay inflated during sleep. Bi-level also has helps to keep the airway open during sleep on a different manner. It is most commonly prescribed for patients with Sleep Apnea. The sleep study you had helped the doctor to know how much pressure to prescribe. CPAP/Bi-level helps people get a good night’s rest and avoid daytime fatigue and drowsiness.
What to do:
- Wash your hands.
- Gather the equipment.
- Attach the tubing to the CPAP/Bi-level machine at the end and to the mask at the other end.
- Attach the humidifier (if ordered by your doctor). Fill the humidifier to the correct level as described in the owner’s manual. Use only distilled, sterile, bottled or reverse osmosis water. If none of these are immediately available to use, feel free to use tap water. However, prolonged use of tap water will result in mineral build up in your humidifier chamber. Empty remaining water in the morning so it doesn’t grow any bacteria.
- Put on the headgear and mask or nasal pillows and adjust for comfort.
- Make sure the mask/pillow is snug around your nose but not too tight.
- Turn the machine on and breathe normally through your nose.
- Lie down and adjust the tubing so it is free to move if you tune in your sleep. Adjust the mask and headgear/pillows until you have a comfortable fit and there are no airflow leaks into your eyes. If air is blowing in your eyes, readjust headgear straps until resolved.
- Your CPAP/Bi-level machine has a ramp feature that will reduce the air pressure when you are trying to fall asleep. Your respiratory therapist will explain how to use this feature.
- Turn the machine off in the morning after you awaken.
- Wipe the mask down with wet cloth and store in a place away from dust.
- Empty the humidifier and air dry in a place away from dust.
- Disconnect the tubing, humidifier, mask and filter and gently wash in a solution of hot water and mild dish detergent or baby shampoo (without scent or antibacterial). These have chemical that can leave a film on the plastic. Rinse thoroughly and air dry or attach to the CPAP/Bi-level unit and turn it on to “Blow Dry” your hose. As an alternative, soak everything for 5 minutes in a 70% alcohol (rubbing alcohol) rinse thoroughly in hot water. If your machine has a paper filter, this does NOT get washed.
- After it’s dry place the mask or pillows in a zip-lock bag to keep dust away from it after cleaning.
- Disconnect the power cord and wipe the outside of the machine with a cloth dampened with water. Let the machine dry before plugging in the power cord.
Make sure bedding, curtains, or other things are not blocking the filter or vents of your machine.
- Wash your face before putting on your mask. Normal oils in your skin can shorten the life of the mask and lead to more leaks.
- Keep your bedroom quite, dark, and cool.
- If your machine has a pressure delay, this can make it easier to fall asleep with your CPAP/Bi-level. Your Respiratory Therapist can show you how this works.
- If your doctor has ordered a Heated Humidifier, it can offer more humidity for those who have a problem with extreme nasal dryness or nosebleeds.
- When traveling by commercial airline, the carrying case is for carry-on ONLY. It will no protect the system if put through checked baggage.
- For security stations, there is a note at the bottom of the machine identifying it as a medical device. It might be helpful to bring the owner’s manual along with you for airport security personnel.
- Replace your filter every 3 months, hose every 3-6 months, mask and headgear every 3-6 months depending on your insurance plans schedule and your needs.