Frequently Asked Questions for CPAP/BPAP Users
Reminder: Always bring your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)/ bilevel positive airway pressure ventilation (BPAP) machine or mask to the NHVC Sleep Medicine Center so that we may verify your pressure settings and fit your mask if you are having problems.
Write down the name of your sleep provider and name of the durable medical equipment company which provided you the device. Keep both with your CPAP machine.
Masks, headgear, and tubing should be replaced every six months. At that time, masks and headgear will begin to show wear and lose elasticity, and as a result, the mask may begin to leak because it doesn’t fit as well as it should. Leaking means that you are not getting the therapy you need. Replace your equipment regularly, and check with your insurance carrier. Most insurance plans cover mask and headgear replacement every six months.
Many CPAP and BPAP units have filters that need to be inspected weekly and replaced when they appear dirty. There are often YouTube videos which will show you how to check the filters on your specific model.
Change the water in your humidifier daily. Only use distilled water in the unit. Tap water contains particles that may leave mineral deposits and affect the equipment.
Clean your mask every other day in a solution of mild liquid dish soap and distilled water that is not too sudsy. Rinse it thoroughly, and allow the mask to air dry.
Clean your hoses and tubing every week in a mild liquid dish soap and distilled water solution. Rinse them thoroughly, and allow them to air dry.
Hand wash your headgear in laundry detergent once a month or as needed. Rinse it well, and allow it to line dry.
The FDA advises against cleaning your PAP machine or accessories (such as masks, tubing, headgear) with any device that uses ozone gas or UV light. According to the FDA, it is unknown if these cleaners are safe and effective.
Use the travel case that came with your machine. When traveling by car, keep your machine in the glove compartment rather than in the trunk to avoid temperature extremes.
When traveling by air, always carry your CPAP/BPAP with you on the aircraft. Do NOT check it in baggage. We will be happy to provide you with a letter, signed by your doctor, explaining that CPAP/BPAP is a medical device and advising the airline that it should be carried on board the aircraft.
You should take an extension cord along with you if you are staying in a hotel. Outlets may not be conveniently located next to the bed. When traveling to a foreign country, a plug adapter may be required to make your power cord compatible with the power outlets of that country.
Your nasal congestion may be caused by a previous sinus condition, a dry airway, or the positive pressure from your equipment. To ease your discomfort, try adding moisture to the air by using a humidifier, and keep your nasal passages moist by using an over-the-counter nasal saline spray. To open your nasal passages, you may use an over-the-counter antihistamine or nasal steroids.
If you are suffering from nasal/throat dryness, you are probably not breathing enough moist air. To remedy this problem, you should try adding a humidifier to your room. If you are already using one, you may consider upgrading your humidifier to a heated model so that the air becomes warm as well as moist. A heated tube may also help.
Contact the NHVC Sleep Medicine Center if the symptoms persist. Mouth or throat dryness may also be a symptom of mouth breathing. Remedies may include a chin strap or a mask that covers the nose and mouth.
It can be difficult to use PAP therapy during illness, due to nasal congestion, coughing or sneezing. It may be OK to not use your machine for a night or two. Contact your primary care provider or your sleep provider if you are concerned about your breathing at night, or you are not sleeping well.
Facial soreness and pressure marks on your face which persist for more than one hour, typically mean that your mask is too tight. To help ease the fit, make sure your CPAP or BPAP is at maximum pressure when you are putting on your mask at night.
Tighten it until the mask does not leak, but no further. If you are still uncomfortable, call your supplier (the Durable Medical Equipment company) or NHVC Sleep Medicine Center for a mask refit. Always bring your machine and mask with you to the Center so that we may verify your pressure settings and mask fit.
You may be swallowing air while using your equipment. To eliminate this problem, elevate the head of your bed. You may also try using simethicone, a drug that is available over-the-counter, at bedtime. If the problem persists, contact the Sleep Medicine Center. Re-programming or an upgrade in your device may be required.
It may take time for you to become familiar with the pressure of your CPAP or BPAP unit, or a pressure change may be necessary. Contact the NHVC Sleep Medicine Center, and always bring your machine and mask with you to the center so that we may verify your pressure settings and mask fit. Please do not try to change the pressure on your own!
Contact the NHVC Sleep Medicine Center or your DME provider to check your machine. Always bring your machine and mask with you to the Center so that we may verify your pressure settings and mask fit. Please do not try to change the pressure on your own!
If you have mild symptoms, stay at home and self-quarantine as much as possible. Clean the machine, humidifier, mask, headgear, tubing and sponge filter daily (rather than weekly.) Use a separate bedroom to avoid infecting others. If you cannot sleep in a room by yourself, consider not using Your PAP device at home. The device may “aerosolize” the virus allowing it to spread through the air.
If you are having shortness of breath, contact your provider. If you go to hospital or to urgent care, bring you PAP device with you.
Yes. We accept many types of insurance. You should check with your DME care provider to ensure that your CPAP/BPAP equipment is also covered.