5 Tips for Improved CPAP Therapy
By Andrew Senske, President CPAP-Supply.com
Last Updated 07/22/2008 3:59:00 PM
CPAP therapy has benefited millions of people who suffer from sleep apnea. For some, the therapy is difficult to get used to. For others, it becomes second nature almost immediately. Either way, CPAP therapy can be extremely effective in reducing snoring, eliminating most apneas, and in allowing for the healthy, restorative sleep you need each night. If you're new to CPAP therapy and you're having difficulty adjusting to it, please persevere - it's worth it. For help and support, you may want to consider joining a CPAP discussion forum. If you've been using CPAP therapy for a while and you're an old pro, then congratulations. You undoubtedly know first hand the excellent benefits of effective CPAP therapy.
Whether you're new to it or you've been on CPAP for years, there are a few important issues to consider to maintain or improve your CPAP therapy. I've created this short and simple list of 5 tips for improved CPAP therapy. If you have any other tips you'd like to share, feel free to do so by contacting us through our contact page.
- Clean and inspect mask parts and tubing daily. Cleaning your mask only takes a few minutes each day. For quick cleaning you can use one of our Citrus II mask cleaning products. The wipes and sprays make cleaning mask cushions a snap. Every few days you can wash the mask components more thoroughly in hot soapy water. The tubing can be cleaned relatively easily by holding it in a U-shape and pouring hot soapy water in it. Lifting and lowering each end of the tube in succession will get the soapy water moving around and cleaning the inside of the tube. You can use this same technique using a little bit of rubbing alcohol in the tube if you want to make sure you're killing germs. As you wash your equipment, you'll naturally be inspecting it. If, for example, water leaks out of your tube when the tube is full of water, then you know it needs to be replaced. If water can leak out, air can also leak out. Likewise, when you clean your mask cushion, you'll likely notice if it's wearing out. If you see any rips or tears, or if the mask cushion has simply lost its suppleness (and therefore has lost some its sealing ability), you'll know it's time for a new cushion.
- Get a new mask every three to six months. Sometimes you'll only need a new cushion, but if you need multiple parts, it's often more cost effective to buy an entirely new mask. When it comes time to think about buying a new mask, be critical. If you have problems with your current mask, then look for a new mask that specifically addresses those problems. We can usually help you find a great mask if you tell us what you like and don't like, and what has and hasn't worked for you in the past. The only scenario in which we wouldn't be able to help you find a good CPAP mask is if you say something like "I can't use nasal pillows, I've tried every nasal mask on the market and I hate 'em all, and there's no way I'm using a full face mask!". Seriously, though, give us a call and we can help. The point is there's no need to tolerate a mask that isn't working well for you.
- Use filters. Don't use a CPAP machine without filters. Doing so can potentially reduce the life of your CPAP machine (perhaps leaving you with less money to find the perfect CPAP mask), and it also allows for particulate in the air to be blown into your airway. Save your CPAP and yourself by using filters. If your particular CPAP machine has two types of filters - foam and ultra fine - then use them both. Check the filters regularly for cleanliness. Foam filters can be washed, rinsed, dried and reused while ultra fine filters should be discarded and replaced when they get dirty. Keep in mind that some CPAP machines have only one type of filter. For example, the ResMed S8 and S8II series have a single, disposable filter that should be replaced when it gets dirty.
- Check your pressure periodically. Using a manometer of some kind, you should check the pressure on your CPAP machine every six months, or even more often if it's convenient. Basically, you want to make sure that the machine is blowing the correct pressure. If the screen on the machine says it's blowing 10 cm H2O, and you use a manometer and find out it's really only blowing 6, then you might not be getting the therapy you need. Also, for machines that have manual altitude adjustments, don't forget to set the altitude correctly when traveling. If you're traveling from Seattle to Denver, or from Denver to Vail, you'll need to adjust the altitude setting so that you'll be getting the correct pressure at those different altitudes. If you have a higher end model like the DeVilbiss IntelliPAP, you won't need to make any altitude adjustments since this adjustment will be made automatically, but you should still check your pressure every once in a while.
- Be objective and persevere. If it feels like your CPAP therapy isn't working, or that it isn't working like it used to, then do something about it. Perhaps there's a leak in your tubing. Maybe your mask needs to be replaced. Or maybe the machine pressure needs to be adjusted. If you can't solve the problem on your own, you can talk to your doctor about it. Maybe there's something more complex going on with you. Perhaps an automatic CPAP machine would suit you better. Whatever the case, don't let mediocre therapy become the status quo.
I hope these simple tips help you get the most out of your CPAP therapy!
CPAP-Supply.com is a leading online retailer of CPAP equipment. Located in Spokane, WA CPAP-Supply.com has been serving thousands of customers around the world since 2001. Founded on a belief that patients are their own best primary care providers, CPAP-Supply.com understands the importance of educating patients and customers on both the effects of and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. For more information visit CPAP-Supply.com or call toll free 1-888-955-2727.