If you are one of the 8 million Americans who use a CPAP machine to sleep at night, you likely have a lot of questions regarding how safe it is to use your device during the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. You are not alone, and many people likely have the same questions and concerns that you do. At Expert Sleep, we want to give you the best information regarding the safety of your CPAP device.
Last month, The (AASM) American Academy of Sleep Medicine released an article clearing lots of the confusion that CPAP users have during this time, answering questions and addressing many of these concerns. CPAP users have been wondering if it is safe to continue using a CPAP machine, particularly if they have the virus or are at high risk. The answer is yes, it is safe to continue using your CPAP machine to aid sleep; however, there are some necessary precautions to make sure you and loved ones stay healthy.
If you sleep with a partner at night and develop coronavirus symptoms, you will want to isolate yourself from your partner. The AASM recommends that if you are displaying symptoms (including sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or even excessive sweating and digestive issues) that you continue using your machine but in a separate bedroom. This is because when you breathe throughout the night, the machine releases carbon dioxide through the exhalation port. The carbon dioxide released from the machine can contain microdroplets of air containing the virus, which can be spread to a partner sleeping in the same bed. These particles can remain in the air for several hours, and anyone within 6 feet of someone with the virus is considered to be at risk.
If you have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or are worried you might be at risk, you should regularly clean the CPAP machine based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Cleaning the machine is especially important during this time because the virus particles can remain on hard surfaces for long periods. Using a mild soap and water is effective, but there are also CPAP cleaning wipes available and some masks and supplies have specific cleaning requirements. Here are links to a two manufacturers recommendations:
If you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine to help, it is important to keep using the device during this time to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and proper sleep hygiene. A lack of proper sleep can actually weaken the immune system, thus lowering your risk of being able to fight the virus. You can read more about the relationship between sleep and illness here. The good news is that if you follow AASM and CDC precautions, your CPAP machine is considered safe to use, so long as you remain properly isolated and keep the device clean and sanitized, and are following all other CDC guidelines.
If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you may want to strongly consider taking these precautions. Even if you have no symptoms, following these guidelines can help prevent the virus from spreading.
Overall, this virus is especially difficult for people with preexisting health conditions, including those worsen by sleep disorders such as heart conditions, obesity, or diabetes. If you or a loved one uses a CPAP machine or have any questions or concerns about your CPAP machine or sleep disorders during this time, reach out to Expert Sleep to schedule a telemedicine appointment.