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Living With CPAP

CPAP is a long-term treatment. To achieve the full benefits of CPAP, use it every time you sleep—during naps and at night. Most people should use CPAP for at least 7.5 hours each night for the best results.

CPAP machines are small, lightweight, and fairly quiet. You can take your machine with you when you travel.

Knowing how to maintain your CPAP machine is important. You also should see your sleep specialist for ongoing care as he or she advises.

Maintaining the CPAP Machine

To properly maintain your CPAP machine, refer to the user manual or ask your home equipment provider how to care for the machine.

Parts of the machine need daily or routine care and cleaning. For example, if your machine has a humidifier, you’ll likely need to clean it daily. You also may need to replace parts of the machine over time.

Your home equipment provider should be able to supply replacement filters, masks, and hoses for your machine.

If you suspect a problem with your CPAP machine, call your home equipment provider. Don't try to fix it yourself.

A small hole in most machines lets out the air that you exhale (breathe out) and keeps the air supply fresh. This isn't a defect in the machine, and you shouldn't try to cover it.

Getting Ongoing Care

Many people have questions when they first start using CPAP. Talk with your sleep specialist about how to handle followup questions. He or she can answer some questions, but your home equipment provider may need to address others.

Ask your sleep specialist to recommend a home equipment provider that has a lot of experience with CPAP. Continue working with your sleep specialist as you adjust to CPAP.

Your sleep specialist may ask you to schedule a followup visit about a month after you begin using CPAP. He or she will want to see how well you are adjusting to treatment. After that, you may have followup care every 6 or 12 months.

Most CPAP machines record the amount of time you use them on a computer card. Your sleep specialist may ask you to bring the card in to see how well you're doing.

During followup visits, your sleep specialist may need to adjust the air pressure setting of your CPAP machine if:

  • You gain or lose a lot of weight
  • Your symptoms, such as daytime sleepiness, persist or recur
  • You have another treatment for sleep apnea, such as upper airway surgery or a mouthpiece

During followup visits, tell your sleep specialist if you're not happy with your CPAP machine. He or she may suggest switching to a different machine that might work better for you.

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Updated: December 13, 2011