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A list of FAQ’s about Sleep Apnoea, CPAP machines and CPAP masks

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People stop breathing repeatedly during the night, which interrupts stages of sleep and restricts the amount of oxygen to the body. This is generally caused by the tongue and soft palate collapsing causing a blockage of the airway.

What does CPAP stand for?

CPAP is an abbreviation for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.

What does AHI mean?

AHI is an abbreviation for Apnoea Hypopnea Index. It is the amount of times per hour that the airway is either partially or completely blocked off for 10 seconds or more.

What are the different severities of Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnea can be classed as Normal, Mild, Moderate or Severe. Generally speaking these are classed around the AHI.

Normal   <5
MIld          6-15
Moderate 16-30
Severe     30+

The severity will help guide which treatments are best suited for sleep apnoea, however the overall clinical picture needs to be considered when working out how best to treat it.

What is the difference between a fixed pressure and auto machine?

A fixed pressure machine will provide a continuous, fixed pressure to the airway during sleep. An auto machine adjusts during your sleep to the pressure you require to keep your airway open.

How long does it take to adjust to using CPAP?

Every person is different. Some people start on CPAP and adjust to using it straight away. Others may take a few weeks or months. It is really important that you discuss the issues you are having with your therapist, so that you will get the benefits from using a machine.

Will I always need to use CPAP?

Most people will need to use a device for the rest of their life. Lifestyle changes can make an impact. Exercise, stopping smoking/drinking and weight loss are factors that can help.

Can I travel or go camping with my CPAP?

You can definitely travel with your CPAP equipment. Please check with your airline, but in a lot of cases, it is classed as a medical device, and therefore not counted in your carry on luggage. Most CPAP machines can run on 12 and 240 volts, so they can be used when camping. Batteries, converters and inverters can all be used to power your CPAP therapy.

What maintenance is required on my CPAP equipment?

You need to do a small amount of maintenance each day, to keep your equipment clean and hygienic.

Your humidifier and tubing will need to be washed out, with warm soapy water, then rinsed and left to dry, not in direct sunlight. In some instances you can even wash your humidifier in the dishwasher. Please check manuals and your equipment provider if this is an option for you.

Your cushion will need a wipe down to remove any oils that have built up.

Your filters in the machine will need checking, and replacing every few months. If the filter is discoloured, it needs changing. Whenever checking your filter, it is a good idea to give it a flick instead of washing it out.

It is a good idea to wash your headgear at least once a week, to remove any oils from it. It will last longer, if you look after it.

Will using CPAP stop me snoring?

In most cases, CPAP therapy will stop your snoring. If you are still snoring while wearing CPAP, it is a good idea to discuss this with your Doctor or therapist as there are things that can be adjusted.

What is the difference between using a full face mask and a nasal mask?

A full face mask sits over your nose and mouth, whereas a nasal mask only covers over your nose. There are also nasal pillow masks which will seal purely on your nostrils.

 

Which masks work with which machines?

All masks are interchangeable with all CPAP machines, except ResMed AirMini, which can only be used with Resmed AirFit P10, N20 and F20 masks.

What do I do if cold air from my CPAP machine is waking me up?

If you have a humidifier, you may need to adjust your settings, as the seasons change. If you don’t have a humidifier, it may be worth upgrading your machine so that you can use one.

There are also covers which go over the tube.

How do I avoid water and moisture in CPAP hose and mask?

Your humidifier settings will need to be adjusted, this can be easily done in your menu on your CPAP machine. Humidity settings may need to change depending on the season. Another thing to consider is that if a draft of air hits the tube it can have an effect on how the humidification is adjusted.

My CPAP is making noise, what can I do?

If your CPAP machine is making a different noise or more noise than normal, there are a few different things to check:

Your mask is connected properly

  • Your mask has different parts and if they are not connected properly, then air can escape causing which can lead to excessive noise

Your mask is in good, clean condition

  • From time to time mask parts will wear out. If your cushion is becoming discoloured or has holes/tears in it, then there is a chance air may be escaping here causing noise. You can replace parts of your CPAP mask. Alternatively there are always new masks being released into the market which can be considered.

Your CPAP tubing doesn’t have ay holes in it

  • The CPAP tube is often neglected when doing equipment checks. It is important to check the tubing, especially around the rubber connection points where it connects with the machine and the mask.

There is no water in your tube

  • If water enters your CPAP tube, it can make a gurgling or hissing noise. If this happens regularly, you may need to adjust your humidifier settings. You may also want to consider a tube cover if it continues to happen.

Your humidifier tub is working properly

  • From time to time we will see a faulty humidifier tub which when replaced will stop noises from occurring.

Your machine is not working as it should be

 Occasionally the inner workings of your CPAP machine may not be working as they should. This can be caused by dust getting into the motor or general wear and tear. We often forget that CPAP machines operate for 8 hours or more per night. It is not uncommon for us to see machines that have worked for more than 15000 hours.

How long do CPAP machines last?

CPAP machines can last up to 20 years! It is important to keep monitoring the effectiveness of the therapy (is it controlling your AHI), the noise it is making and also the cleanliness/hygiene of it. Warranty on the machines will vary between 2 and 5 years.

How long do CPAP masks last?

CPAP mask duration will vary depending on how well they are looked after, pressure they need to deliver to the patient and the condition of the patient’s skin. For example if somebody has quite oily skin, this can affect the condition of the cushion.