Continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP is a treatment method used by sleep apnea patients. CPAP machines keep the airways open by using air pressure. They are typically used by patients who have trouble breathing while sleeping. The main cpap supplies are: cpap masks, hose, filter, pillow and cpap cleaners. In other words, CPAP therapy ensures that your airway stays open while you sleep.
Best CPAP Masks, Cleaners and Pillow
Cpap machine is a small box with a fan inside. This fan quietly draws air from inside the room and gently pressurizes it before delivering that air to you, the patient, at your specified setting. This portion of the machine includes a filter that gets rid of dust and other unwanted particles in the air. The filter should be regularly replaced.
The machines also include a humidification chamber. The humidification chamber slightly raises the temperature of the water that is being used to humidify the air. The warm air works to soothe your upper airway and nasal passages while preventing the occasional swelling or other forms of discomfort that can occur during this type of therapy. The machine also comes with an attached hose that connects the box to the mask. And these hoses will eventually wear out. Be prepared to replace them when needed.
The Different Types of CPAP Masks
The type of CPAP mask determines how much of the face is covered – the nostrils, the nose and mouth together, the mouth, or the whole face. Different patients have different needs and tolerances.
1. Cpap Nasal Masks
The nasal mask sits on the bridge of the nose and covers either the whole nose or the bottom half of the nose. It is usually kept in place by four points of attachment to the headgear. This type of CPAP mask delivers indirect airflow, which feels more natural and is preferred by many patients. It is a popular design and choice and comes in many styles and options.
This type of CPAP mask suits restless sleepers or those who like to sleep on their side. It is an excellent option for patients who need the CPAP machine to deliver higher pressure airflow, but it is not the best mask for mouth breathers or those with difficulty breathing through their nose. Some medical conditions like enlarged turbinates, narrow or collapsed nasal valves, or a deviated septum make it difficult to breathe through the nose as does the common cold or allergic reactions resulting in blocked sinuses. When the nose is blocked, the right air pressure does not get to the airways.
2. Cpap Full Face Masks
The mask covers the mouth and nose using a triangle of cushions to make an airtight seal. The mask stays firmly in place with four connections to the headgear and side straps. This CPAP mask is bulkier and heavier by comparison to others because it covers more of the face.
Patients who breathe through their mouth and find a chinstrap uncomfortable or those with chronic allergies, or regular congestion will benefit from breathing through the nose or the mouth during sleep and still receiving pressurized air. This CPAP mask is the best option for higher pressure settings, mouth breathers, and those who sleep on their back.
There are CPAP supplies that make wearing a mask easier.
1. CPAP therapy cream assists in reducing the irritation that new users experience with nasal cushions.
2. Skin irritation from the cushion material is preventable with a mask liner. A mask liner protects the cushion material from perspiration and makes the mask-wearing a fresher experience
3. Adjust straps until the mask fits securely but does not leave the skin with red marks or consider changing the mask style.
4. Padding for straps and nose cushions protects the face from pressure and rubbing at points of contact.
What is CPAP Cleaners?
A CPAP machine cleaner is a device for cleaning the CPAP equipment to keep it free from contamination. Daily cleaning of the CPAP equipment by hand is a time-consuming process. The time and effort involved in cleaning the equipment results in skipping cleaning sessions and less effective cleaning of the parts.
A CPAP cleaner provides safe, hygienic cleaning of the CPAP equipment, meaning the daily cleaning routine is more likely. The CPAP cleaner needs to be compatible with the CPAP equipment and requires an adapter (usually supplied) for working with heated hoses. A portable CPAP cleaner makes overnight trips with a CPAP machine relatively stress-free. Daily effective cleaning and sanitization results in healthier therapy with minimal risk of problems from mold, bacteria, and viruses.
Three Prime Methods for CPAP Cleaners
The three ways of cleaning CPAP equipment involve:
1. Washing by hand.
A thorough hand wash of all the equipment requires a minimum of 15 minutes with water and approved cleaning products. The equipment must be completely dry before reuse. You need to arrange for hoses to drain and dry all external surfaces. Meticulous hand washing is effective and inexpensive, but time-consuming and involves effort. Ineffective handwashing does not remove all bacteria, mold spores, or viruses.
2. CPAP cleaner using UV Light.
The UV-C element of the light spectrum effectively destroys living microorganisms like bacteria, mold, and viruses, leaving the surface sanitized. Ambulances and high touch areas use this method of cleansing to provide sanitized equipment. CPAP cleaners using UV light are rapid – typically 5 minutes to ensure a clean face mask.
3. CPAP Cleaner using Ozone.
Ozone kills 99.9% of bacteria, and hospitals and water treatment plants use it for this purpose. The Ozone is pumped through the hoses, face mask, and water reservoir to cleanse them of bacteria, mold spores, and viruses by killing them. The ozone cleaner approach is slower than the UV light, but the machine does the work.
Why Do You Require CPAP Cleaners?
Overnight your moist breath flows into the mask, nose pieces, and the hose, allowing the bacteria and viruses to deposit on the equipment. Heated water hoses provide ideal conditions for growth, but generally, any surface in contact with the breath is potentially contaminated.
Regular cleaning of the CPAP machine is essential to avoid potential risks to health from the following problems:
1. Mineral deposits build up in the water chamber and other parts of the equipment. The deposits give the surfaces a cloudy appearance making the equipment look grubby and poorly maintained. This deposit seems unhygienic and provides rough surfaces for bacteria and mold to grow and thrive.
2. Mucus in the mask – the build-up may be visible or a thin film, but regular sanitization is vital for health and to avoid an unpleasant smell developing. Mucus is more likely during a severe cold or other nasal infection.
3. In heated hoses, the conditions are warm and humid, and these moist conditions are ideal for rapid mold growth. Mold will grow in any damp conditions, so these areas need regular cleaning.
4. Bacteria and viruses can contaminate the face mask and tubing. The equipment is putting pressurized air into the airways. If the pressurized air picks up mold spores, bacteria, or viruses from the equipment, then there is a risk of cold, sinus infections, or even pneumonia developing from unclean equipment.
An effective CPAP cleaner is straightforward to use regularly to keep the equipment sanitized and hygienically clean.
What is a CPAP Pillow?
CPAP pillow is a useful accessory giving a better experience while using CPAP equipment to treat sleep apnea. CPAP pillow replaces a standard bed pillow because its modifications help ensure the best overnight comfort while using a CPAP machine. Overnight support is crucial to providing the most effective treatment and compliance with using the device every night. A well-designed, comfortable CPAP Pillow helps with the therapy.
A standard bed pillow is ineffective because it can rub against the mask, breaking the seal, reducing the air pressure and the effectiveness of the treatment. The pressure of the pillow against the mask can push the face mask into the face causing red, irritated marks. A standard bed pillow does not accommodate any of the adjustments needed to make sleeping with a CPAP facemask in place comfortable.
A CPAP pillow accommodates the needs of many sleeping positions for a person wearing a CPAP face mask. It features cut-out sections on two or four sides of the pillow, allowing the mask and tubing to remain comfortably in position overnight.
A non-snoring pillow is useful in providing elevation for people with a snoring problem, but it is not suitable as a CPAP pillow. The non-snoring pillow shape is a wedge and has no cut outs to accommodate the CPAP equipment.
The CPAP pillows come in a full bed size and a small portable version. Regular travelers may want one of each for convenience at home and portability when staying away overnight.
How Does a CPAP Pillow Work?
The cut-outs in the pillow accommodate the face mask – keeping the exhalation ports open. The pillow materials vary, but memory foam gives excellent support to the head and neck—the right support overnight results in better sleep and less discomfort from neck or spinal problems.
Some CPAP pillows adjust for height preferences by adding or removing foam layers. They may have preformed indentations to provide a range of comfortable sleeping positions. The covers are generally hypoallergenic and treated to stay clean and fresh with regular washing. If the pillow is not washable or dry cleanable, then it needs replacing every six months.
The exact CPAP pillow for a person depends on their preferred sleeping position and the degree of support they need for their neck and shoulders. Some people are restless overnight and frequently change position, CPAP pillow with indentations as well as the cut-outs permits many variations in sleeping position through the night.
The CPAP pillow is part of your CPAP therapy kit, and regular cleaning or replacement ensures it does not contain bacteria, germs, or dirt.
When Should I Replace my CPAP Supplies?
Replace your CPAP supplies if they are dirty, broken, or damaged and plan to replace them on a regular cycle. The equipment needs to be in tip-top condition to provide high-quality air and maintain your health.
Parts of the mask cushions are in close contact with your skin. The build-up of oils and moisture from the skin can cause wear and tear. Items like nasal mask cushions and nasal pillows are in close contact with your nostrils. Replace to maintain cleanliness and an excellent air seal.
There are two types of air filters – reusable and disposable. The air filter takes out dust and allergens and will clog up in performance. Mold and bacteria will build-up if the filter is not changed regularly. Fine disposable filters should be changed every fourteen-days. Check the filters and replace them if they are worn and dirty.
Full face cushioning is in contact with a greater surface area of skin but is not as close to the nostrils. A monthly change will keep you fresh and clean.
The frame system for the mask is not in direct skin contact, but you will want to change it every three months.
If the hose develops leaks, then the air pressure is lost. Check that the tube is clean and flexible without damage and routinely replace every three months.
Wash reusable filters regularly and change every six months. If they are clogged or worn and, washing does not clean them – replace immediately.
The straps in the headgear and optional chin straps lose elasticity and they are in contact with sweat and skin oils. Replace at once if they are damaged or dirty.
Tap water contains minerals that cause the build-up of deposits in the humidifier and water chamber. These deposits may trap bacteria. Routinely change every 6-12 months or if the equipment is showing signs of damage, discoloration or excessive deposit build-up.
What is CPAP Therapy?
CPAP Therapy effectively treats Sleep Apnea. The initials stand for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Apnea refers to the blockage of the airways during sleep. The literal meaning of “apnea” is “without breath”; it is a Greek word. During sleep, the muscles in the mouth and throat relax, causing a part or total closure of the airways. This blockage reduces or stops air reaching the lungs and decreasing the amount of oxygen transferred to the blood.
The therapy keeps the airways open and maintains the continued supply of oxygen to the bloodstream through normal breathing. The airways stay open because pressurized air blows gently through, keeping the soft tissues from collapsing during sleep. The therapy involves using a machine and mask to send pressurized air through the airways every night.
How Does it Work?
The CPAP pump takes air from your room and pressurizes it. Then the pressurized air is transported through the tube and mask to be delivered to the upper airway (throat) via the nose or nose and mouth. The pressurized air keeps the upper airway open, allowing you to breathe while you sleep. The pattern of air pressure depends on the type of machine you use. For example, fixed pressure machines, or CPAP machines, deliver constant air pressure to you during sleep. However, APAP machines (or auto-titrating positive airway pressure machines) use algorithms to deliver air pressure according to your individual needs.
This type of therapy can be very effective for sleep apnea patients. The machine is simple to use, compact, and, if maintained with CPAP cleaner and regular part replacements, should last you a very long time.
Are They Hard to Use?
1. The CPAP machine is a simple device that is straightforward to set up and use.
2. The CPAP device consists of a box containing a small quiet compressor (motor) that pulls in air and pressurizes it. Different individuals require different air pressures to treat their Sleep Apnea.
3. The air passes through a filter to remove dust and allergens, meaning that the air provided to the airways is significantly cleaner than the room air. An antibacterial filter added to the usual filters further increases the air quality.
4. A humidifier with a water chamber comes with the machine that can provide warm moist air that assists in avoiding drying out the airways. It’s a matter of personal preference and comfort.
5. A six-foot hose transports the air from the machine to the mask. Gentle warming of the tube prevents water droplets forming when used with a humidifier.
6. The mask comes in a range of styles and can cover the nostrils or the full face and everything in between. The mask is the vital component for delivering the pressurized air to the airways. It needs to fit well and be comfortable in use to make the therapy consistent and bearable.
CPAP Therapy is a Treatment, Not a Cure
The only cure for Sleep Apnea is weight loss and lifestyle changes. These are difficult to achieve and take time. In the meantime, Sleep Apnea persists along with the adverse effects on health and wellbeing. The therapy is an effective treatment with excellent proven benefits, but it is not a cure and has to be undertaken every night for as long as you have sleep apnea.
Despite the noticeable benefits of improved alertness and focus and the risk of severe consequences of sleep deprivation and increased blood pressure, many patients do not stick with therapy. People don’t actively choose ill health, but they avoid present discomfort.
Simple adjustments and accessories can resolve most problems with getting used to the treatment. The health benefits and the improved quality of life mean it is worth trying to overcome these difficulties and establish regular nighttime use of the machine.