General CPAP and BiPAP Questions
Q: Will I need to use my CPAP equipment for the rest of my life?
A: Most people continue to sleep using their CPAP devices for the duration of their lives, even though their pressure setting may need to be adjusted downward due to improvements in the severity of their sleep apnea. However, some no longer need treatment because they lose weight; experience changes in their muscle tone; undergo oral surgery; or have their airway structures “trimmed” down by a physician.
Q: I’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) I don’t have trouble sleeping; in fact, I can sleep anywhere, anytime! Why do I need CPAP treatment?
A: Having OSA doesn’t mean you have trouble falling asleep. Having OSA means you have trouble breathing while you are asleep.
Q: If I go out of town for 1-2 days or less than a week, is it ok to leave my CPAP/BiPAP at home?
A: No. Every time you sleep your airway is obstructed and your oxygen drops your heart, brain, lungs, and other bodily systems are strained. That’s why it’s vitally important that you use continue your therapy whenever – and wherever – you sleep.
Q: How often should I be re-titrated. In other words, how often should I have another sleep study to determine if my equipment pressures are set appropriately for me?
A: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that patients be “re-titrated” once a year or when lifestyle changes occur, to ensure that optimum therapeutic levels are maintained. This is especially important if you – Especially if/when you lose or gain weight; no longer feel you are getting optimal sleep; and/or if you are taking new medications (which can make apnea worse).
Q: Can I take sleep aids while using my CPAP like I did during my study?
A: You should always check with your physician and pharmacist before taking prescription or over-the-counter medication with your CPAP therapy in order to avoid any possible negative reactions.
Mask and Supply Questions
Q: What kind of mask do I need?
A: Using the right mask is essential to the success of your treatment. You will need a mask this is comfortable and fits properly. It should form a good seal on your face so that air doesn’t leak (this would be uncomfortable and make your therapy less effective). A nasal mask which covers the nose is the most common. However, some people breathe through their mouth when they sleep. In this case, a full face mask that covers both the nose and mouth is the best option. Another option would be a nasal mask and chinstrap. This will prevent the jaw from opening during sleep and still provide for effective therapy.
Q: My mask seems to be leaking. What does that mean?
A: Unfortunately, our faces are designed differently, and no mask will seal 100% of the time, because air will look to escape via every nook and cranny. However, you’ll want to get the best fitting mask and adjust your headgear properly to have the best seal. Also, before using your equipment make sure your face is clean and free from moisturizers, make up, or creams.
Q: How often can I pick up my supplies?
A: Use the following as guidelines, because they adhere to most insurance carriers’ requirements.
- Once a Month – Face cushion/nasal seal cushion, nasal pillows, device filters.
- Every 3 Months – Mask (excludes headgear) and tubing.
- Every 6 Months – Headgear, chin strap, humidifier water chamber.
Extra supplies are available for self-pay purchases.
Q: I often wake up with water in my mask/tubing – what can I do? Why does this happen?
A: Your humidifier is on too high. Start at the 1st setting (1) and gradually increase as necessary each night.
Q: I have a full face mask and my humidifier is turned all the way up and I still have a dry mouth. What should I do?
A: Adding a chinstrap to your headgear is often helpful under these circumstances, because it will prevent you from keeping your mouth open and having more moisture evaporate. Additionally, your doctor may need to adjust some of your medications if he or she feels that it may be contributing to your dry mouth.
Q: I am experiencing a cut on the bridge of the nose. What should I do?
A: If so, your mask is probably too tight so we suggest that you loosen it a bit. Also, put some zinc oxide, a band-aid, or skin tape on the affected area, but do not discontinue your CPAP therapy. However, if your sore continues to worsen, contact your physician. You may need to return to your CPAP clinic for another mask- one with a more comfortable, and better-fitting style.
Q: How do I dry CPAP hoses after cleaning?
A: After cleaning your tubes and hoses in warm water (don’t use soap in the water or you may be blowing bubbles out of your tube!) and rinsing them thoroughly, you can dry them by leaving them alone for a while or using one or more of the techniques listed below. It’s a good idea to have two hoses so you can rotate them as necessary.
- Spin the tube gently. The centrifugal force pulls the water to the outside of the tube.
- Tie a fishing weight to a nylon string, paper or cloth towel, or other fabric and pull it through the tubing.
- Set a hair dryer on low and blow it through the connector hose (you can even duct-tape it to the end if you’d like to leave it there for a while)
- Place the hose in a freezer for a couple of hours. The droplets will freeze and fall off the hose surface when you flex it from the outside.