CPAP maintenance is a crucial process of CPAP therapy in order to keep your machine and supporting supplies hygienic and optimal. It is important to replace your CPAP mask from time to time. Most manufacturers advise that a CPAP mask should be replaced every 6 months. According to experts, 7 in 10 PAP patients say they sleep better after replacing their supplies, and 1 in 3 say they get more sleep after replacing supplies.
There are two main reasons why you need to replace your CPAP equipment regularly; bacteria and function. Bacteria growth and deterioration of your CPAP mask is inevitable despite how frequent you are cleaning your mask. Think of your mask as your toothbrush. The dentist recommends replacing your toothbrush every three months as bacteria are hidden in the bristles and natural wear and tear from everyday brushing. After three months the toothbrush will not function optimally as the bristles deteriorate making it difficult to clean hard to reach areas like before. Similarly, CPAP masks require the same level of commitment from users to ensure it’s a positive experience and that masks are replaced so that it works at its optimal.
CPAP masks and supplies are frequently colonized with bacteria. Every night, the headgear and silicone part of the mask is in direct contact with your face. For example, the DreamWear Nasal CPAP maskis designed using silicone from the frame to the nose making it one of the most comfortable and lightweight mask in the market. The mask rests on your cheeks and under the nose collecting oil, dirt, and dead skin cells from your face and hands. Especially direct nasal masks such as the ResMed AirFit P10 Nasal Pillow, has gel cushions sitting inside the nostrils, increasing the likelihood of harmful bacteria. Bacteria and virus may be present from previous times you were ill, contributing to further sinus or lung infections such as bronchitis and pneumonitis. Similar to silicone hydrogel contact lens that need to be disposed regularly, CPAP masks also need to be replaced regularly.
According to a scientific study, the lab results showed many different positive cultures found on the masks. In fact, in the mask, over 90% of the cultures were coagulase-negative staphylococci, which are bacteria of the human skin and mucous membrane. Over time, the silicone will absorb oil leading to smells and skin irritation. Furthermore, the headgear can also trap bacteria from sweat and moisture while you are sleeping. Accumulative moisture on any part of the mask is a great breeding ground for mold.
CPAP masks need to be replaced regularly to ensure your CPAP Therapy is at is optimal. According to the American Sleep Association says, “supplies are made of plastic, fabric, or silicone and will need proper maintenance in order to maximize usage length and performance.”
As medical doctor Ralph Pascualy explains in his book, “a worn out mask will fit poorly, leak, and cause chafing.” Skin abrasions from an ill-fitting mask are difficult to heal and air leakage can cause eye irritation from constant air blowing into the eyes. Silicone ages when exposed to air and to oil from the skin, degrading the silicone making it no longer a tight seal with your face. Signs of worn out mask shows discoloration, tearing on cushion or stretched out headgear. Naturally, wear and tear causes the headgear of any mask, such as the ResMed Quattro FX Full Face Mask, and chinstrap to lose elasticity leading to overtightening and discomfort. This forms an ineffective seal creating air leaks lowering the effect of CPAP therapy and should be replaced immediately.
References: Chin, Christopher J. M.D. et al. “Association of CPAP Bacterial Colonization with Chronic Rhinosinusitis.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2013. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3716664>Ralph A. Pascualy. M.D. “Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Sleep Well, Feel Better.” Google books. 2008.