If you are using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, whether to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), or to reduce snoring, you might have heard several times that you have to keep it clean before each use to prevent further health risks and/or complications.
Why Clean Your CPAP Machine?
If you won’t clean your CPAP machine regularly using a high-quality CPAP cleaner, germs, bacteria, viruses or even molds may develop in the CPAP mask, tubing or humidifier. And since your CPAP machine has direct contact with your nose and mouth, the particles, when inhaled, can go into your lungs. This can lead to symptoms or conditions that may also affect your health and the quality of your life.
8 Things That May Happen If You Won’t Clean Your CPAP Machine
Here are some of the symptoms you may develop and conditions you may eventually have if you won’t clean your CPAP machine before each use.
1. Sinus infection (Sinusitis)
Sinusitis is the medical term for a stuffy nose that doesn’t seem to get better. An unclean CPAP mask with mold can cause mucus to form which may also block the openings of your sinuses or nasal passages. You can also develop sinusitis if you don’t use a heated humidifier in your CPAP therapy.
Sinusitis comes in three types:
- Acute sinusitis – may last up to 4 weeks
- Subacute sinusitis – may last up to 3 months
- Chronic sinusitis – symptoms last for more than 3 months
The symptoms of sinusitis may mirror those of the usual cold such as:
A decreased sense of smell
Runny or stuffy nose
Some of the most effective ways to relieve and/or treat sinusitis include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medication for your symptoms (i.e. guaifenesin for nasal congestion)
- Nasal corticosteroid spray
- Nasal saline rinses
- Pain remedies
If you are experiencing signs of sinusitis and they don’t improve within 1 to 2 weeks, please schedule an appointment with your doctor as this may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
2. Worsening Asthma
According to an article published at Health Harvard Publishing, breathing in bacteria, oil and other organisms from a dirty CPAP machine can increase problems related to asthma. When you have asthma, your airways are inflamed all the time, and they can become more swollen when something triggers your symptoms such as a dirty CPAP machine. This inflammatory disease can make breathing more difficult for people who use CPAP machines and can even make some physical activities extremely challenging or impossible.Types
Asthma comes in different types such as:
- Allergic asthma – is triggered by allergens.
- Nonallergic asthma – is triggered by irritants in the air.
- Aspirin-induced asthma (AIA) – is triggered by taking aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) (i.e. ibuprofen or naproxen).
- Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) – its symptoms arise within a few minutes of starting physical activity or exercise, and up to 10-15 minutes after.
- Nocturnal asthma – it may be triggered by varying sleep cycles. Usually, triggers cause asthma symptoms at night. These triggers may include dust mites, pet dander and heartburn.
- Occupation asthma – is triggered by irritants in the workplace such as rubber latex, animal proteins, industrial chemicals, etc.).
- Cough-variant asthma (CVA) – it doesn’t show the most common symptoms of asthma. It is characterized by a persistent dry cough which, when not treated right away, may lead to a full-blown kind of asthma.
The most common symptoms of asthma are:
- A squealing, wheezing or whistling sound when you breathe
- Chest tightness
- Coughing (especially during exercise, at night or when laughing)
- Difficulty in speaking
- Panic or anxiety
- Shortness of breath
Your doctor may recommend any or a combination of the following treatment options for asthma:
- Breathing exercises
- Medications (i.e. anti-inflammatories taken with an inhaler, injectable biology therapy drugs, etc.)
- Quick-relief asthma treatments (i.e. bronchodilators, first aid asthma treatment)
If you have this inflammatory disease and you’re using a CPAP machine, you can prevent asthma attacks and/or your symptoms from getting worse by reducing your exposure to allergens and cleaning your CPAP machine regularly using a CPAP machine cleaner.
Since a dirty CPAP machine may produce contaminated air, it can also increase your risk for pneumonia. This condition happens when one or both of your lungs got infected and inflamed.Symptoms
The symptoms of pneumonia may vary from milk to severe, depending on the gravity of the infection and the status of your health. Some of these symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Low energy or fatigue
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Shortness of breath
Your doctor may provide a treatment plan depending on the severity of your pneumonia. Since the goal of the treatment is to cure the infection, you may be given or advised any of the following treatment options:
- Antibiotics or other medications
- Oxygen therapy
If your pneumonia is life-threatening, you may be advised to be put on a ventilator.
Meningitis rarely comes from a CPAP machine. However, because a dirty CPAP machine can cause sinus infection, if the sinus infection is not treated right away, it may develop to meningitis.
Meningitis happens when the protective membranes and fluid covering the brain and spinal cord become swollen or inflamed because of a bacteria or viral infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are six types of meningitis:
- Bacterial meningitis – is a life-threatening type of meningitis caused by bacteria.
- Viral meningitis – is less severe than bacterial meningitis. This type is caused by viruses.
- Parasitic meningitis – is caused by parasites and is a less common type of meningitis.
- Amebic meningitis – is a rare case of meningitis caused by Naegleria fowleri, an ameba that lives in soil and warm water.
- Non-infectious meningitis – is caused by certain drugs, brain surgery, head injury or pre-existing conditions such as cancer and lupus.
The symptoms of meningitis may vary depending on the type you have. But some of their common symptoms include:
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck
Here are some of the treatment options for this condition:
- Fluids given through the vein to prevent dehydration
- Oxygen through a face mask (if needed)
- Steroid medication
Meningitis patients are recommended to seek treatment in the hospital as this disease may cause serious complications such as brain damage, seizures and kidney failure.
A dirty CPAP machine can bring dirt to your nasal passages and irritate them to the point of bleeding. Nosebleeds can also be caused by low humidity as it may dry your nasal passages out. This may also happen more during winter. If you are using a CPAP machine and have started bleeding, please speak with your doctor to stop this right away. Nosebleeds may also be caused by other conditions such as upper respiratory infection, high blood pressure, bleeding disorders, blood clotting disorders, and cancer.How to Stop Nosebleeds
You can stop nosebleeds by doing first aid treatments such as leaning back or tilting the head, pinching all the soft parts of the nose, applying ice, etc. However, if you won’t stop bleeding after doing all possible first aid treatments, please go to the hospital immediately.
Be sure to clean your CPAP machine regularly using a CPAP sanitizer to prevent nosebleeds.
6. Teeth and/or gum damage
An unclean CPAP mask can also damage your gums and teeth. Although generally, since CPAP machines may dry out your mouth, having a parched mouth or tongue and gum damage are also some of its common risks. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health also states that CPAP therapy can also cause unwanted tooth movement.
7. Reactive airway disease (RAD)
Reactive airway disease may be used to describe various conditions. This term is used to describe someone who wheezes or has a bronchial spasm but is not yet diagnosed with asthma. The bronchial tubes of patients who suffer from this disease overreact to certain irritants. Some of the irritants can be triggered by a dirty CPAP machine.Symptoms
The symptoms of this condition may be similar to the symptoms of asthma such as:
- Breathing difficulties
- Excess mucus in the bronchial tube
- Hypersensitive bronchial tubes
- Swollen mucous membrane in the bronchial tube
The best treatment for a patient with RAD depends on the triggers and how severe the patient’s reactions are to those triggers. If you have been diagnosed with RAD, some of your options are:
- Medications for allergies
- Treatments for virus or infection
- Using a rescue inhaler
Trying your best to avoid irritants that may trigger RAD is the best way to avoid experiencing this condition. For instance, if your trigger is stress, then try doing meditation, yoga or other activities that may help keep you relaxed. Meanwhile, if your trigger is dust and you are also using a CPAP machine, be sure to sanitize your CPAP machine before you sleep at night using an efficient CPAP cleaner.
8. Skin problems
A dirty CPAP machine can also cause skin allergies, rashes, skin peeling, cystic acne and breakouts, especially near the nose or mouth.Treatment Options
The treatment for skin problems may vary depending on your skin issue. Some of the treatment options that a dermatologist may recommend include:
- Facial sessions
- Skincare products
- Over-the-counter medications and/or ointments
Never wear your CPAP mask uncleaned if you have sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, or are prone to skin irritations.
How to Properly Clean Your CPAP MachineNow that you know some of the symptoms and/or diseases that you may develop if you will not clean your CPAP machines regularly, let’s proceed with the cleaning process itself. Here’s a quick step by step guide on how to properly clean your CPAP machine using the CleanFlash® CPAP machine cleaner:
- Charge your CPAP cleaner.
- Connect the cleaner to your hose (use an adapter if necessary).
- Put the cleaner inside the UV bag.
- Press the “Start” buttons on the ozone cleaner and the UV bag.
- Wait for the process to complete, and you’re done!
To avoid making mistakes on using the CPAP cleaner, please read the manual provided accordingly.
We hope this list has helped you realize how crucial it is for you to clean your CPAP machine regularly. It is advisable to use a CPAP cleaner, instead of the usual soap and water, to kill all kinds of bacteria effectively. Here at CleanFlash®, we offer a CPAP cleaner that uses both ozone and UV light for twice the efficiency of a regular CPAP cleaner. Our product is FDA, FCC and CE registered, easy to use, and can help you save time and money.
To learn more about our product, please contact our team or read our frequently asked questions page. Finally, if you’re ready to buy a CPAP cleaner, just hit the button below and you will be redirected to the shopping cart.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Harvard Health Publishing
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
American Lung Association
National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute
National Health Services UK
Dr Mayank Shukla
Family First Urgent Care
Locust Family Dentistry
Medical News Today
The Sleep Zone