Within our practice, we see a lot of people who bring in CPAP equipment which is often 10 years old or has not been maintained or serviced for an extended period of time.
As general rule, CPAP machines are pretty sturdy bits of equipment and have the capacity to live a relatively long life.
When I see the older equipment come in, the two questions that come to mind are:
- Is it still treating the Sleep Apnoea appropriately?
- Is the equipment hygienic and clean?
When answering the first question – is the sleep apnoea being treated properly?
There are a few things I look and listen out for…
Feedback from the CPAP machine
Depending on how far back we are looking at with a device, we will often be able to drag information out of the machine. The key stats for me are AHI, usage and leakage. AHI or Respiratory events per hour is the main stat. Ultimately we like to see this figure below 5. If the figure is above, I then know it is time to probe deeper to see if there is anything that needs changing.
If there is a discrepancy with the leak, we then know that the issue may be with the mask. In this case, we would do a mask fitting which will often help solve the issue.
What I will often see is that the older Automatic devices will return data showing an elevated AHI.
In situations like this, I believe the best alternative is to find a fixed pressure which will treat the sleep apnoea and flick the machine over to fixed pressure mode.
Within our clinic we offer a service where we will loan patients equipment, which will give us data on what pressure is required to treat the sleep apnoea. Usually, within a week, we have had enough time to get an appropriate fixed pressure by manipulating this remotely using AirView.
Often patients will simply choose to upgrade the equipment after this trial because the machines are quieter and treat the sleep apnoea more effectively.
Return of symptoms
The training we receive at Sleep Right Australia encourages us to look further than the stats. If we hear that somebody has started snoring again or that symptoms of Sleep Apnoea have returned, we will then start to become suspicious and look deeper into the CPAP machine.
The second question – is the equipment clean and hygienic? Is very commonly answered with a no.
The main thing I see in the clinic is very dirty air filters. Secondly, when people are using humidifiers, the tubs and tubes have often been neglected. It is important to not become too desensitised to your CPAP machines cleanliness. Afterall, you are breathing in the air from the device throughout the whole night.
What do I do if I am using an old CPAP machine?
Firstly, if you have not had your CPAP machine looked at in the past 24 months, go and see a CPAP specialist to get it looked at. Get some data from your machine and ensure that the sleep apnoea is getting treated properly.
Secondly, replace your filter. While you are at it, give your humidifier tub and tube a thorough clean using warm soapy water. For a thorough explanation on how to maintain your equipment, click here.
CPAP machines are robust, sturdy pieces of equipment but you do need to check in on them to make sure they are treating your sleep apnoea appropriately and you need to ensure that they are clean. Replacement tubes, filters and humidifier tubs are available for older machines and may help you get more life out of your older CPAP device.
If your equipment is old, but you are not in a financial position to upgrade (check out our payment plan options), ensure you are doing everything you can to ensure your equipment is working the best It can and is in a relatively clean, hygienic state.