COVID-19 is an infectious disease that began in Wuhan, China in December 2019. This virus and disease were unknown prior to the outbreak, but it has already spread in various countries across the globe. It was later on identified as a pandemic. In this article, we’ll take a look at the relationship between COVID-19 and sleep apnea, and if it is safe to use your CPAP machine if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
But first, how do you get COVID-19?
COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person in two ways. First is by spreading contaminated droplets from an infected person’s lungs and airways. Second is by direct contact with contaminated individuals, objects, or surfaces.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, and feeling of tiredness. Other symptoms include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell and/or skin discoloration. Although most people recover from the disease without hospital treatment, 1 out of 5 people becomes seriously ill and develops breathing difficulties, especially older people with pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes or cancer.
How is Sleep Apnea linked with COVID-19?
Based on a study conducted at the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be a risk factor for severe COVID-19. A number of patients admitted to having COVID-19 already had pre-existing OSA. Some other common pre-existing health conditions included in the study were hypertension (43%), obesity (35%), OSA (29%), diabetes (25%), asthma (14%), active malignant disease (11%) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (7%).
Once infected with COVID-19, people with OSA may be prone to greater health risks. This is also why following the treatment plan provided by your doctor is necessary. Following safety precautions related to your condition is also as important. For instance, if you are on a CPAP therapy, be sure to keep your machine clean at all times to limit your exposure to bacteria, germs, or any form of contamination. One of the best ways to clean your CPAP machine is by using a high-quality CPAP cleaner.
Tips in Protecting Yourself From COVID-19Here are some things you can do to help protect you and others from acquiring and/or spreading COVID-19:
- Regularly wash your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sanitize your hands using alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.
- Wear a face mask, especially when going outside.
- Refrain from going out especially if you are experiencing signs or symptoms of the coronavirus.
- Practice social distancing. Stay at least six-feet away from people when going outside.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of your tissue properly after use.
- Regularly clean objects that you touch frequently. These include your phone, laptop, light switch and doorknobs.
Different Ways to Treat COVID-19Vaccines are still currently being developed and tested, so it is safe to say that there’s no cure yet for the coronavirus. However, doctors manage COVID-19 symptoms by recommending:
- antiviral or retroviral medications
- breathing support, such as mechanical ventilation
- steroids to reduce lung swelling
- blood plasma transfusions
Can I use my CPAP machine to treat COVID-19?
CPAP machines are used by people with sleep apnea to help them breathe more comfortably when they sleep. But sometimes, CPAP machines are used to help people with respiratory problems breathe effectively. A ventilator requires a breathing tube, operating on a closed system that traps pathogens, while face masks of CPAP machines have holes to ensure that the person using it breathes fresh air.
For those with breathing problems caused by COVID-19, CPAP machines cannot entirely replace ventilators because they can release virus droplets into the air due to the holes. It may also worsen the spread of the virus, infecting others nearby. The good thing is, there are adjustments and modifications that can be made to CPAP machines to make them suitable for COVID-19 patients. These include creating a closed-circuit system in a negative pressure room to make the air come into the room and not go out.
The FDA issued some guidelines to hospitals allowing the use of CPAP and BiPAP machines as a short-term substitute for ventilators in treating COVID-19. But these require precautionary measures in the filtration system to avoid the spread of the virus. Aerosolized virus particles may remain in the air for an hour or more. Without cleaning CPAP masks and tubing, the transmission of COVID-19 disease may spread, since the virus may remain on plastic and other surfaces for hours or even days. To learn more about cleaning your CPAP machine using a CPAP cleaner, click here.
Safety Precautions in Using CPAP Machines for COVID-19Here are some safety precautions to remember when using CPAP machines for treating COVID-19:
- People infected or suspected to have COVID-19 must be isolated, even while using a CPAP machine. They should sleep in a separate room with doors remain closed.
- If isolation in a separated bedroom is not possible, a doctor should be consulted for an alternative treatment to OSA if the patient is also infected with COVID-19. Different face masks and viral filters are available to modify the treatment and help limit the risk to others.
- It is important to clean the CPAP machines using a CPAP machine cleaner after every use. The mask and tubing of CPAP machines require extra attention since they have direct contact with the patient’s nose and mouth.
- Even the humidifier of the CPAP machine (if there is any) and the skin or casing should be clean and dry, assuring it is filled with fresh water for overnight use.
Tips in Cleaning Your CPAP MachineYour CPAP machine can be the answer to treating your sleep apnea, so be sure to actively care for your equipment especially during this pandemic. In fact, keeping your CPAP machine clean, as well as the room environment can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is also why all parts of the CPAP machine (mask, tubing, filter and humidifier) must be cleaned every day. Here are some tips and reminders in cleaning your CPAP machine:
- Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling the CPAP machine.
- The humidifier needs to be emptied once a week, thoroughly washed, dried and refilled with distilled water before bedtime.
- Disinfect the skin of the CPAP machine regularly.
- Clean and disinfect your room after cleaning the machine.
- Some people use soap and warm water in cleaning the mask and accessories. If you would take this cleaning option, be sure to dry your machine properly because CPAP machines are sensitive and delicate to water. If the equipment isn’t dried properly, the moisture that would accumulate may lead to the formation of mold and fungi. And even if the machine looks visibly clean, there are invisible contaminants that may also form over time.
Manual cleaning may put you at risk for health complications especially if you will use harmful chemicals like chlorine and alcohol-based cleansers. Cleaning the CPAP machine may be time-consuming and hard to comply with, but having cleaners available in the market, such as a CPAP sanitizer, can help make it easier and more effective to have a daily cleaning routine, even guaranteeing the removal of 99.9% of bacteria.
If you have questions on how to clean your CPAP machine, please contact your CPAP machine provider or reach out to us. We are more than willing to help.
How to Clean Your CPAP Machine Using a CPAP CleanerBelow is a step by step guide in cleaning your CPAP machine using an efficient CPAP cleaner:
- Put the hose of the CPAP machine inside the UV light bag.
- Connect the power source into an outlet.
- Activate the UV light by turning on the cleaner.
- Leave for an ample amount of time to complete the cleaning cycle.
There are also CPAP cleaners available in the market that use both ozone and UV light for optimal cleaning. Ozone acts by interacting with oxidized proteins, unsaturated lipids, respiratory enzymes in cell membranes, peptidoglycans in cell walls, enzymes and nucleic acids in the cytoplasm, proteins and peptidoglycans in coats and capsids. UV light cleaners break molecular bonds in the DNA of microorganisms. The electromagnetic waves and radiation they produce are highly effective in cleaning CPAP machines.
Choosing the Best CPAP Cleaner
Having the right cleaner can help assure that the CPAP machine is safe to use and is free from contamination. You can find different types of CPAP machines that come with different functions and features. Below are some factors that can help you choose the right CPAP cleaner:Portability
If traveling is frequent, considering the ease of bringing around the cleaner is a must. You must also consider the cleaner’s battery life.Compatibility With CPAP Machines
Most CPAP cleaners are compatible with any CPAP machine, but some may need extra adapters.
Ease of Use
Choose a CPAP sanitizer that will operate in just one push of a button.
The length of time it takes to clean your equipment using a CPAP cleaner ranges from five minutes to a couple of hours depending on the type of machine.
Another thing you may want to consider is the machine’s value for money. Some companies offer risk-free trials to test the CPAP cleaner so you may want to also take advantage of this option.Warranty
Choose a CPAP cleaner provider that offers a warranty of at least two years.FDA, FCC and CE Registration
One way to assure the legitimacy of the CPAP machine is to research about the company’s credibility and their compliance with government regulationsPositive Customer Reviews
Look for reliable testimonials from actual customers to make sure that the product gives satisfactory results.Doctor’s Recommendation
Some doctors may also recommend products that they trust, so you may also want to ask your doctor for CPAP cleaner suggestions.No Harmful Chemicals
Choose a CPAP sanitizer that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals as these may lead to health risks such as respiratory problems.
Here at CleanFlash®, we offer an efficient, high-quality CPAP cleaner that can help you save tons of time and money. We do not use harmful chemicals, our product is FDA, FCC and CE registered and our product comes with a two-year warranty.
OSA is a risk factor for a severe case of COVID-19. Therefore, if you have sleep apnea, please be extra careful when interacting with others so you can also protect yourself from potential health risks. Meanwhile, some hospitals could be using CPAP and BiPAP machines as a short-term substitute for ventilators in treating COVID-19. But of course, this requires extra precautions measures in the filtration system to avoid spreading the virus.
If you’re using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea or a respiratory problem, our CPAP/BiPAP cleaner can help you keep your equipment in good shape and safe for daily use. To learn more about our product, please don’t hesitate to contact us or to check out our FAQs page. Finally, if you’re ready to purchase a CPAP cleaner, just hit the button below, and you’ll be redirected to the order form.
We hope this answers some of the questions you have in mind about OSA and COVID-19. Stay safe!
World Health Organization
Sleep Health Foundation
American Sleep Association
Sleep Health Foundation