April 01, 2021

Positive airway pressure devices

Keeping them clean

If you regularly use a positive airway pressure (PAP) device, such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device or bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) device to treat your sleep apnea, you deserve a pat on the back. It can be difficult to adjust to using this equipment, but it's worthwhile. Not only do PAP machines help you breathe, but they may help alleviate daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure and even decrease your risk of crashing your car. However, it's important to keep your device clean. Doing so can help:

  • Stop the spread of bacteria — If water sits in your humidifier for too long, mold and bacteria may grow. Lack of cleaning can lead to unpleasant smells, which may discourage use.
  • Ward off allergies — Cleaning can help prevent allergy symptoms, as allergens such as dust and fungus can get into your PAP device.
  • Preserve the life of your equipment — The natural oils on your face can cause a poor mask-to-face seal. A poor seal can allow airflow to leak out so that the machine doesn't work as effectively. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has pointed out that dirt and dust may interfere with your PAP device and increase the chances of it malfunctioning.

The FDA cautions against using products marketed as PAP cleaning machines, which may use ozone gas (sometimes called activated oxygen) or ultraviolet (UV) light. These ozone machines are not needed or cleared for use by...