If you're among the 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea, then you understand the fatigue and frustration that comes from not getting a good night's sleep.
You also understand the fatigue and frustration that can come with cpap equipment, the most proven devices to combat sleep apnea in our day and age.
Signs of Failing CPAP Equipment
There are hard and fast rules for CPAP equipment not much different than equipment failure on any device. If your CPAP machine is making funny noises, even if you've had it for only a few months, you may need to replace it.
You have good news, though. Most CPAP machines have a one-year warranty. Double check the warranty information on your machine before you contact or insurance or think you have to fork over cash for a life-sustaining device.
Age of the CPAP Equipment
How old is your CPAP machine and equipment? These, along with general maintenance of the equipment, help determine its reliability and efficiency. Any machine more than seven years old should be replaced, even if just for the technical advances that have taken place.
Sometimes you need to replace your equipment just so you can have more efficient equipment, and not because yours has technically worn out.
Technological advances have created even better machines than five years ago with more comfortable masks and efficient air supply.
CPAP Equipment Elements to Replace
The general rule of thumb is to replace equipment as often as insurance will let you. This will prevent you from having to experience a failing machine and go even a night with a compromised system.
The CPAP mask delivers pressurized air to your airway, keeping you breathing consistently throughout the night.
You should replace your mask every three months regularly. Do not wait until you have problems. You may need to replace your mask earlier if you're so uncomfortable wearing it that you cannot fall asleep.
After all, the machine should help you sleep and not prevent you from sleeping.
If you find your mask leaking or making noises because of a leak, you may need to replace it. Also, if you're experiencing facial redness, sores, or general discomfort, consider replacing your mask.
If you or your sleep mate hear grinding sounds while your machine is running, you may need to replace your mask.
Cushions or Pillows
The cushions for a CPAP machine have nothing to do with what's under your head. However, the cushions are the lining or the cushioning on the mask itself. This means the silicone or the nasal pillow.
If your cushions or pillows soften too much, they are not as efficient and can lead to leakage, irritation, discomfort, or redness.
If you find yourself regularly tightening your mask to create the necessary seal, you may need to replace the cushions or pillows. You should replace the nasal cushion twice a month or every two weeks minimally. Also, replace a full-face cushion once a month.
If you have a discolored or cracked cushion, replace it even before the scheduled time period.
Headgear or Chinstrap
Plan on replacing the headgear or chinstrap every six months.
The headgear and chinstrap, after a great deal of usage, will stretch out. If you find yourself repeatedly tightening to get a good seal.
CPAP filters catch the allergens and irritating particles that would otherwise make their way into your lungs. CPAP machines come with permanent and disposable filters.
Depending on the environment, dust and allergens can clog a filter quickly. If you live in a particularly humid or dusty environment, you may need to change your filter more frequently.
Otherwise, plan on changing your filter every two weeks.
If the filter looks discolored or worn, change it even sooner. A clean filter will help you stay healthy.
The tubing delivers pressurized air from the machine to your mouth. Clean tubing plays a critical role in delivering clean air to your lungs.
Plan on replacing the tubing every three months.
If your tubing turns opaque or cloudy or if you notice small tears in material between coils, plan on replacing the tubing even sooner.
The water chamber is a nice feature on newer CPAP machines. It holds the distilled water you put in every day and warms and moistens the air you breathe.
Plan on changing the water chamber every six months. You should also change the water daily. Do not leave water in the chamber for days on end.
If the chamber has cracks or pitted area or if you notice discoloration, change it sooner. Minerals can cause the discoloration, and cracks can trap the bacteria from the moisture.
Maintaining the water chamber by changing the water daily and using only distilled water will keep your air cleaner and lengthen the life of the chamber.
The actual machine that delivers your air is the CPAP device. You should plan on replacing the actual device every 3-7 years even though the ypical life span of a CPAP device is 5-7 years.
If you can afford it and as the years wane on, you should have a backup CPAP in the closet, so when yours decides to quit, you do not have to go a night without your CPAP.
Also, keep in mind, as mentioned earlier, new technology makes a new device more appealing. You may find nose cushions and face masks have come a long ways in the last five years.
If you wait long enough, insurance will typically cover a CPAP machine.
When You Don't Clean or Replace CPAP Equipment
When you do not care for your CPAP machine, when you do not replace the water daily or use general tap water, ou end up with a germy, unsanitary device.
Just like how we replace toothbrushes regularly, you must replace the elements of your CPAP machine regularly.
Not caring for your machine does not just mean it will wear out faster. An unsanitary machine leads to problems like sinus infection and even pneumonia.
What Can Compromise Your CPAP Machine and Equipment?
Whenever you use your machine, keep these tips in mind to lengthen its life.
1. Wash your face every night before putting on your CPAP mask.
The oils in your face can breakdown the cushion and mask more quickly. Get rid of those oils first.
2. Do not use face cream right before bed.
Again, those oils affect the quality of the cushion and seal on the machine.
3. Wipe the cushion with a warm, damp flannel cloth every morning - clean your face and clean your machine.
Just keep the basic mask clean.
4. Wash your mask thoroughly once a week
Use the original washing up liquid that comes with the machine. When you airdry the parts, do not dry the cushions on warm surfaces like a heater or in direct sunlight
Stay Alert and Get Some Rest
When you care well for your CPAP machine, you end up getting more rest. So be alert and know when to replace your CPAP equipment.
For more information about CPAP equipment needs, check out our inventory.