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CPAP Therapy and COVID-19: MythBusters Unmasked

During these times of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have turned to friends and family, television, and even social media for answers to some scary questions about their health they never thought they’d have to ask. With the number of opinions and mixed messages rising, it is understandable that false information may have crept its way into these channels. Not having accurate information can create anxiety amongst those who seek it. This is especially true for those who have underlying medical issues, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

To provide some clarity, we have created a list of myths and facts that have been associated with COVID-19 and CPAP therapy to help those who have been diagnosed with OSA understand what they can do to keep themselves and others around them healthy.

Myth #1: 

You should stop using your CPAP machine if you have been diagnosed with or have symptoms of COVID-19.

First and foremost, the most important thing we can tell you is DO NOT STOP USING YOUR CPAP MACHINE without first speaking to your doctor! You were prescribed CPAP therapy for a medical reason and stopping can put your health at serious risk. Plus, you will miss out on several overall health benefits from gaining a full night’s sleep. So, while you may be tempted to discontinue CPAP therapy, that may lead to more severe coronavirus symptoms.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, shortness of breath, or persistent pain or pressure in the chest, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Myth #2: 

You have a higher risk of getting the coronavirus because you have sleep apnea.

There is no evidence linking sleep apnea with coronavirus risk. Everyone is at risk if they are exposed to the virus. People who have higher chances for severe illness from the coronavirus include:

  • Those who are 65 years of age or older.
  • Those who have serious underlying medical conditions such as:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
    • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
    • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Myth #3: 

You should use additional chemicals for cleaning your CPAP mask components during the coronavirus outbreak.

While it may be tempting to try harsher chemicals to clean and disinfect your CPAP mask components, it is important to follow the cleaning guidelines and instructions that came with your product. You should never use moisturizing soaps, bleach, scented oils, or alcohol-based solutions to clean your CPAP supplies.

CPAP Mask Cleaning Tips:

  • You should clean the elbow, frame, and cushion daily. The headgear only requires weekly cleaning. Facial oil and dirt can easily build up on your mask parts when they are not cleaned properly, which can lead to skin irritation. Cleaning your mask does not take long, so working it into your morning routine should be a breeze.
  • The water tub should be washed every day in warm water with a mild detergent, then rinsed thoroughly with clean water and left to dry away from direct sunlight. Every month, the water tub should be inspected for wear and deterioration and replaced if any component is cracked, cloudy or pitted.
  • CPAP tubing should be cleaned weekly. Simply remove the air tubing from your CPAP therapy device and mask by pulling on the finger grips on the cuff, then wash the air tubing in warm water using mild detergent. Once you have rinsed the tube thoroughly, you should hang it in a clean place out of direct sunlight until it is dry.

For additional tips on cleaning your CPAP mask components, check out our Hiro Health FAQ page

Myth #4:

You can give your CPAP machine and mask to a friend or family member to treat their symptoms of COVID-19.

CPAP therapy is prescribed by your physician to you to treat one thing, your obstructive sleep apnea. The prescribed therapy is for personal use only, and it should not be used by more than one person. This is especially true if the other person is experiencing symptoms of or has been diagnosed with COVID-19. You will need to continue your sleep apnea therapy to treat your OSA and you should not take the chance of cross contaminating your CPAP equipment by allowing someone else to use it.

The information above is for educational use only. If you need specific medical advice about your sleep therapy options, please reach out to your physician, or call us to speak to a Hiro Health Wellness Team member at 866-764-2165.

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