- Don't over tighten your headgear straps! Many patients tighten their headgear so tight that is compresses the cushion into your face, collapsing the cushion, causing the mask to leak air. The most common issue here is the headgear has lost its elasticity. Only wear the straps as tight as minimally needed. You should replace your complete mask every 3 months.
- Clean your mask's cushion daily! This helps prevent chafing of your face and reduces the incidence of infection. Mold and bacteria are a potential problem. Rinse well.
- Wash and dry all of your mask and headgear at least twice a week. Many mask manufacturer's recommend that the mask be cleaned daily. You wash your clothes every day, don't you?
- Don't use harsh chemicals to clean your equipment. Hand-wash your cushion daily in a mild, non-antibacterial soap that does not contain lanolin. Low odor white vinegar and water or Woolite soap are good alternatives. Make sure to rinse well until there is no more odor.
- Replace your cushions or mask pillows every month. Although many of our patients replace their cushions or pillows regularly, there are many of you who do not. It's important for your hygiene to keep equipment sanitary. Also the medical grade silicone loses its elastic properties with time, pressure, and exposure to light.
- Watch out for mold! Spots that wash off and come back in a few days may be signs of mold that has established itself into the silicone. Once mold is inside of your cushion, you can't get it out.
- Wash and hang dry tubing. It would be best to do this every day. If you don't you will be encouraging the growth of mold and bacteria. Medicare and most insurances will replace the tubing every month.
- Replace disposable filters at least each month. Medicare and most insurance companies will replace disposable filters twice each month. Remember the positive air is being forced into your upper airway, bypassing the noses ability to filter the air normally.
- Wash non-disposable sponge filters at least weekly. Replace these at least every 6 months.
- Recurring sinus infection or cough? If this is you, you should consider changing out your entire breathing circuit (filters, tubing, and mask). Many of our patients do this every 3 months to reduce the incidence of respiratory infection. Medicare and most insurance companies will pay for this.
- Consider your CPAP a gift: Consider it a gift to you and your family. Sleep apnea causes a number of serious physiological illnesses. It can contribute to serious medical conditions including heart disease, obesity, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and acid reflux. If your CPAP lets you get a good night’s sleep then consider it to be a gift of disorder and illness prevention as well as good health. Further, there is the gift of “you” who will be around longer for your friends and family to enjoy.
The CPAP is also a gift to your bed partner. With a more restful and meaningful night’s sleep, you will feel better and be a more enjoyable person to be with the next day. Some CPAP users find that they no longer wake up with awful headaches.
Sleep companions benefit from improved sleep themselves as snoring, gasping and the sudden jerks that used to awaken them suddenly go away. And without the fatigue that haunts sleep apnea patients and their bed partners, sex lives may improve.