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FAQs

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CPAP Machines

How long will I have to use this therapy?

You will probably have to use CPAP therapy for the rest of your life. Most people don't want to hear that, but it is important to understand. One night without treatment usually causes an immediate return of the same symptoms that motivated you to get help in the first place.

In the next few days and weeks, think about what you will need to make your treatment successful. Your long-term use of CPAP therapy may simply require an individual commitment, and it may require support from your partner or family.

How many hours do I need to use my CPAP each night?

 You should use your CPAP whenever you sleep. Sleeping without your CPAP poses health risks and will probably reduce your quality of life by increasing your sleepiness and other symptoms associated with sleep apnea.

Where should I put my CPAP?

A nightstand provides the best spot for a CPAP. Some people like to put them on the floor or under their bed so that they stay out of sight, but this can be hard on the device. Floors tend to have more dust than night tables, and increased dust will shorten the life of the air filter in your CPAP.

Are there times when I shouldn't use my CPAP therapy?

Yes. Most doctors will recommend that you not use therapy when you have a sinus cold or sinus congestion. The air pressure can cause sinus and ear discomfort. Some doctors also worry that if you have prolonged sinus congestion, the pressure of the device may prevent your sinuses from draining effectively, increasing the risk of sinus infection.

Do I have to replace any of parts on my CPAP?

You will need to replace the air filter on your CPAP periodically. Check your user manual to see how often. Most devices require you to replace your air filter every six months, but some as often as every two weeks. If you live in a dusty environment, you may need to replace the air filter more often.

What are the advantages of auto titrating devices?

Auto CPAP machines adjust pressure on a breath-by-breath basis to suit patient needs as they change throughout the night. As a result, patients receive the minimum pressure required for effective therapy. The lower average pressures improve comfort, reduce pressure-related side effects, and lead to more consistent use of therapy.

How do Auto CPAP devices know to adjust pressure?

After you fall asleep and your pressure needs begin to vary, your Auto CPAP device responds to three separate parameters: inspiratory flow limitation, snore, and apnea. Auto CPAP devices act preemptively by increasing pressure in response to inspiratory flow limitation and snore, both of which typically precede obstructive apneas. The Auto CPAP device calculates the pressure you need based on the severity of the event. This early intervention prevents obstructive apneas and reduces respiratory arousals.

CPAP Humidifiers

How much water should a humidifier use during a night?

The amount of water needed varies from one humidifier to the next, from one patient to the next, and with the temperature and humidity of the bedroom.
How often should I change the water in the chamber? I never seem to use it all in one night's time.

The water should be changed for each use.

If I run out of distilled water, is it ok to use tap water once in a while?

Yes. It is recommended that you boil the tap water before using it in your humidifier.

What are the overall benefits of humidification?

Up to 40% of CPAP users experience nasal congestion and dryness of the nose and throat. These symptoms can be severe enough to prevent patients from continuing their treatment. The heated humidifier adds moisture and warmth to the air delivered by a CPAP or Bi-Level system. This reduces symptoms of dryness and congestion, improving patient comfort and compliance. Research also shows that nasal resistance can promote mouth breathing, which in turn leads to additional dryness. Heated humidification can prevent the large increase in nasal resistance that results in mouth breathing and leaks.

CPAP Masks

What is the best way to adjust the headgear for a proper fit?

Facial muscles change when we lie down and further relax once we are asleep, so it is always best to fit the mask while you are in your sleeping position. If you sleep in a bed with no pillows, fit your mask like that. If you sleep in a recliner, fit your mask that way.

If the mask is strapped on so tight (to get a seal) that it is painful, does this indicate the wrong size mask? It probably means you have an incorrectly fit mask. It is important not to over-tighten the mask system. If you can only get a good seal by tightening the headgear, you probably have the wrong size cushion or an incorrectly adjusted forehead support.

My doctor says that my nose is totally blocked on one side from a deviated septum. Does that mean I can use a full face mask, but can't use a nasal mask?

With a deviated septum, you are likely breathing through your mouth due to your nasal passage being blocked. A full face mask will certainly work for you and would allow you the option of breathing through you nose and/or mouth. If your mouth is dry in the morning, you are probably breathing through your mouth.

Who benefits from wearing a full face mask?

Some people just prefer a full face mask, but those who get a therapeutic advantage are those who mouth breathe or experience mouth leaks. Mouth breathing and mouth leak can lead to less effective therapy.

How do I choose the best mask?

It is important to pick a mask that is comfortable and does not place pressure on the sensitive areas of the face, the nasal bridge, and upper lip. We suggest you try on as many as you can, talk to other users, and consult with our therapists.

How often should I replace my mask?

Mask systems wear differently according to how well they are cared for and the skin type of the person wearing them. People with oily skin tend to need mask replacements more often. It's a good idea to check with your insurance company to see how often you are eligible for a new mask system.

The grey foam on my Flexifit mask is cracked and looks expanded, what should I do?

The grey foam on the Flexifit masks usually lasts about 6-9 months. As they wear out, you will start to see cracks on the foam and small bits of the foam might fall out. The foam sometimes expands as well from the humidity from the CPAP. If you notice that your foam is disintegrating, you will need to replace it in order to ensure the effectiveness of the seal and to ensure that you don’t breath in the particles.

Does the headgear need to be replaced?

Yes, you will need to replace your headgear occasionally. Like mask cushions, the life of headgear depends on use, the oils from your skin, and care (cleaning etc). Taking good care of your mask is the key to maintaining the best performance and mask fit. Wash your headgear at least once per week and dry it out of direct sunlight. If you have oily skin, you may need to wash it more often. Headgear should last longer than a cushion, but it will depend on use and environment.

Troubleshooting CPAP Therapy

I wake up with water spraying all over my face and the CPAP machine is making a loud gurgling sound. What’s happening?

When the temperature drops in the fall and winter time, many patients experience water condensation in their tubing and masks. The air from the CPAP is heated by the humidifier so its warmer compared to the room temperature. As a result, condensation builds up inside the tubing and sometimes in the mask as well. When the air blows through the wet tubing, it creates a loud, gurgling sound.

Solutions:

I’ve been waking up with a stuffy and runny nose. Is the CPAP giving me an infection?

Nasal congestion and runny nose are symptoms of a dry nasal passage. The pressure from the CPAP can be drying to your airway. When your nasal passage becomes dry, it becomes inflamed and produces more mucous. As a result, patients may experience nasal congestion, or a runny and itchy nose.

I just started on CPAP therapy and I have trouble catching my breath when I’m using the CPAP. Is the pressure not strong enough?

In the beginning of therapy, it is common for patients to feel claustrophobic or feel that they are not getting enough air. These sensations may not necessary mean that you are not getting enough air, but that you are not yet accustomed to the CPAP pressure. The first 2 weeks is the toughest time for most patients. Practicing wearing the CPAP while you watch TV is a good way to allow your body to adjust to the sensation. When you sleep with the CPAP at night, try to wear it as many hours as you can and remove the mask and try again the next night if you cannot tolerate it anymore. As long as you keep practicing using it, you body will gradually adjust to the pressure and having the apparatus on your face and eventually your usage time will increase.

Since starting on the CPAP, I’ve been having more stomach and gas pain. What should I do?

Occasionally, CPAP users will experience air trapping in the stomach and wake up with stomach pain or gas. First, make sure that you sleep with your head aligned with your body or try to elevate your head in bend with a wedge pillow. Lowering the CPAP pressure can also help. However, it may compromise the effectiveness of your therapy. In these cases, patients may find it helpful to try pressure relief features such as C-Flex/A-Flex or EPR. 

I started developing a rash on my face and behind my ears, could I be allergic to the mask?

CPAP masks are made of a medical grade silicone and are hypoallergenic. It is important to wash your mask with soap and water regularly to prevent oil build-up. The natural oils from our skin can cause the mask to deteriorate before its time and also cause skin irritation and mask leaks. If you find that the headgear is irritating your skin, you can try to put a cosmetic sponge underneath the straps or slip a silk scarf underneath.

CPAP Equipment Cleaning & Replacement Schedule

How often should I be cleaning my CPAP mask and humidifier chamber?

It is essential to clean your CPAP equipment on a regular basis. Whenever moisture is present from water supplies, from body humidity, or any bodily fluid, bacteria can grow. If your equipment is not properly cleaned and dried, bacteria builds up and can lead to infections in your airway passages and on your skin. The oils on your skin can also cause premature break down of your CPAP equipment and cause leaks if the mask is not cleaned properly.

We recommend the following cleaning schedule:

Daily: Wipe all surfaces of your mask that directly touch your face with a clean, damp cloth. Empty the water chamber of your humidifier, rinse it and refill with clean water.

Weekly: Take your mask apart as per instructions in the mask’s manual and open your humidifier chamber. If you are unsure how to do this, ask one of our staff to show you. Take all these parts, your hose, and the mask’s headgear and submerge them all in warm, soapy water. Use a clean cloth to wipe all the surfaces. Only use mild dish detergent that is free of perfumes, moisturizers, alcohol, retinols, acids or dyes. Rinse all equipment well. To further sterilize your equipment, you can soak it for 15 min in a solution of 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3 water. Air-dry the equipment out of direct sunlight. I suggest hanging your hose over the shower curtain rod to dry.

Traveling with CPAP

Can I use my CPAP system in other countries?

Most CPAP systems have a power supply that automatically adjusts to the various power supplies in different parts of the world. All devices will accept 100-240V, 50-60Hz, without any special adjustment. Please note that you will still need to use the correct adapter for the power supply socket of the country you are visiting.

Can I use my CPAP system in-flight on a commercial airline?

Some airlines allow passengers to use their CPAP in-flight, some do not. Make sure you check with the airline before you book your flight. Please note: Do not use humidifiers while on an aircraft.

Will I need to have my CPAP adjusted if I travel to high altitudes?

Most CPAP devices will automatically compensate for altitude changes. These devices may require manual adjustment for altitude changes. Failure to make the adjustment may result in ineffective therapy. Consult your local homecare provider to discuss this if you have any questions.

Do I need to take my machine with me if I need hospitalization?

Yes. If you are having surgery, it is very important that you tell both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist that you are being treated with CPAP. You should also inform the attending physician that you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

What else should I keep in mind when I travel with my CPAP?

  1. Carry a travel letter from our sleep therapist to or a copy of your CPAP/BiPAP prescription.
  2. Put CPAP in carry-on luggage and empty all the water from your humidifier chamber.
  3. Consider bring an extension power cord.
  4. Bring spare fuses (depending on model)
  5. Unit might need altitude adjustment

How much power does a CPAP draw when is is connected to a12V power source?

Typically a CPAP can draw between 1 Amp to 2.5 Amp per hour depending on the pressure setting, the type of CPAP (ie: Auto CPAP, BiPAP, etc) and most importantly if one uses a heated humidifier.  If a heated humidifier is being used, it is best to use an inverter to insure the the power source is stable and sufficient to run the CPAP properly.

Light Therapy & SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

What is light therapy?

Bright light therapy involves regular exposure to a bright light source. Treatments typically involve the use of an artificial light source of accepted therapeutic intensity, and with an exposure duration of a set period of time.


How does light therapy work?

Light sets the internal body clock, allowing us to fall asleep and wake up at the right time of the day. Light plays a major role in the secretion of Melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy. During the day, melatonin levels are barely detectable in individuals who don’t suffer from SAD. When light hits the eyes, the retina transmits impulses to the body clock, located in the hypothalamus. If suppresses melatonin, and enhances the production of serotonin, which helps the body wake-up and feel energized.

What is LUX and why is wave length important?

Lux is the measurement of the intensity of a light source. High lux light with 10,000 fluorescent tubes are the first successful type of bright light therapy. Users of high lux light boxes need to be exposed to the light for long lengths of time in order to receive benefits. Recent research indicate that it may be more important to receive light therapy of optimal wavelengths in order to combat symptoms of winter blues and SAD. The light book emits a sufficient intensity of light peaking in critical wavelength range (with no UV) but also emits some light in other wavelengths to produce a natural white light and increase eye safety. Because the wavelength of the light is more sufficient, users can receive benefits in a much shorter time compared to hi lux light boxes.

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