COVID-19 & CPAP: What You Can Do

We’ve seen COVID-19 (coronavirus) dominate headlines in recent weeks, and it’s caused great concern worldwide.

People with underlying health conditions — like obstructive sleep apnea — are concerned about the prospect of severe symptoms or death as a result of contracting the coronavirus.

As a CPAP user, what should you do? While public health experts are still learning about the coronavirus, we’re sharing information here to lower your risk.

Also, we understand you may be hesitant to consult with a sleep specialist during this time. SleepQuest is providing telehealth video conferencing to communicate with your sleep specialist.

For more information, please contact us at:  Our team is ready to answer all your questions to ensure your complete satisfaction with CPAP setup. DON'T HESITATE TO CONTACT US.

Coronavirus and Pre-Existing Health Conditions

We’ve seen reports that people with underlying health conditions have a higher mortality rate from the coronavirus. This includes individuals with chronic respiratory diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea and COPD.

We also know that obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to other serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

These reports are concerning, so let’s put it all into perspective. Health experts believe the early mortality rate reports are a little misleading because they are primarily based on patients who have been hospitalized with severe symptoms.

Many people will only experience mild symptoms, so they will not require hospitalization. While this is encouraging news, it’s still important for CPAP users to take extra precautions.

Sufficient Sleep Is Essential

You bolster your immune system when you get plenty of sleep -- seven or more hours. This is advice doctors consistently give their patients who are suffering from a cold. Plenty of rest is essential to their recovery.

A study by UC San Francisco found that “short sleep” was the critical factor in whether or not someone caught a cold when exposed to a virus. Those getting less than six hours of sleep per night were much more likely to get sick -- four times more likely. Those who slept seven or more hours were less likely to catch the cold.

Sleep apnea interrupts your sleep constantly, which prevents you from getting the sleep you need to stay healthy. That’s how a CPAP machine can help -- ensuring your get deep, uninterrupted sleep so your body will produce virus-destroying T cells and cytokines.

With a full night’s sleep, your body can fight the disease. That’s why it is critical to use CPAP every day if you have sleep apnea or COPD. You will feel more rested, and you will have a stronger immune system to fight off disease.

Sleep certainly isn’t a guarantee against catching the coronavirus. You still must follow the CDC’s guidelines in protecting yourself.

Protecting Yourself

As there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, it is critical to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the flu and similar illnesses:

Avoid touching your face, as the nose, mouth, and eyes present an easy avenue for viruses to enter the body.

  • Disinfect all frequently touched surfaces frequently.
  • Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
  • Use hand sanitizers that are at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick.
  • Stay six feet away from other people if you must leave your home.
  • Do not host or attend gatherings of any size.
  • Follow your state and local public health advisories.

Remember, many people will have only mild symptoms from the coronavirus, so they may not be quarantined as a result of their illness.

Rest, isolation, and constant monitoring of your health will help you recover and ensure that you don’t expose others to the virus. Strictly follow recommendations — even if they seem inconvenient.

If You Get Coronavirus

While some people have died from coronavirus, it’s important to remember that the majority who are diagnosed have survived. Many more experience milder symptoms that don’t require hospitalization.

However, it’s good to understand the risks and know what to do if you feel sick. This is the CDC’s advice:

The symptoms may appear between two days and two weeks after initial exposure to the coronavirus. Symptoms include a fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms can lead to bronchitis or pneumonia.

If you believe you might have been infected, first contact your doctor. Medical professionals will help you know what to do next and determine whether you should be tested.

Stay home and self-quarantine while you are ill. Stay away from public transportation and don’t go into work or other public areas. This will reduce the risk of spreading the disease in your community.

Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and immediately dispose of it.

Wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces in the house.

Wear a face mask to further reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.

Closely Monitor Your Symptoms

CPAP users are at a higher risk of developing more serious complications from the coronavirus. Therefore, you must closely monitor your symptoms. If you are having trouble breathing, this is a sign your condition may be worsening. Call your doctor so you can get medical attention as soon as possible. Call 911 for emergencies. Make sure they are aware that you have the coronavirus so they can take any necessary precautions.

Sanitary CPAP is Essential

Don’t stop using your CPAP machine out of fears of the coronavirus. A report from the National Academy of Medicine indicates that CPAP and BiPAP machines have actually helped some patients in early case studies.

Remember, the CPAP machine will help keep your airways open throughout the night. The constant flow of air pressure can alleviate breathing problems, so your body is better rested to fight disease.

  • Cleaning and properly maintaining your CPAP machine should be of a higher priority than ever.
  • Daily clean all tubing, masks, and humidifier water chambers to lower the risk of infection.

Clean your mask and tubing in warm, soapy water. Use a tube cleaning brush to thoroughly scrub the inside of the tubing to loosen up any bacteria or buildup. Soak the mask and tubing for half an hour, then rinse them and allow them to air-dry. Make sure the tubing is hanging with both ends pointed down so that any water inside the tube will drain out.

Wipes and cleaners can be used as alternatives. Use alcohol- and latex-free products These products are alcohol and latex free, and serve as an effective method of removing organic residue (like oils and bacteria from your skin) before you put on your mask.

Alternatives: The VirtuCLEAN CPAP Mask Automatic Cleaner or SoClean 2 Automated CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer are very helpful, to avoid hand washing your equipment. These products use activated oxygen (ozone) to disinfect in a short cleaning cycle. Simply hook your CPAP equipment up to the sanitizing device and activate the cycle, and you can be on your way.

Filters: Follow filter replacement and cleaning guidelines. Many CPAP machines use both disposable and reusable filters. These filters eliminate dust, bacteria, and other airborne contaminants before air is sent from your CPAP machine to the mask.

Disposable filters typically need to be replaced after two weeks. While reusable filters only need to be replaced after six months, they should also be washed regularly to deliver higher air quality. Check your manufacturer’s guidelines for specific cleaning and replacement schedules.

While this cleaning is essential at all times, it is particularly critical when you are sick.

Keeping your CPAP equipment clean will lower your risk for respiratory illnesses and improve the effectiveness of your sleep apnea therapy.

Try to Stay Calm

Anxiety is common right now. But you can reduce your own anxiety by taking control of your health care. This will help control your underlying medical conditions.

By remaining compliant with sleep apnea therapy, you will help keep your immunity strong so you stay healthy. Your body can best fight the virus when you have the strongest possible immune system.

If you or a loved one develops significant symptoms, call your doctor and follow advice.

Keep your CPAP equipment in good shape. Replace masks, filters and other supplies to avoid air leaks and bacterial growth.

You can call SleepQuest at any time, to talk with a sleep specialist via video conferencing.

For more information, please contact us at:  Our team is ready to answer all your questions to ensure your complete satisfaction with CPAP. DON'T HESITATE TO CONTACT US.