Frequently Asked Questions for CPAP/BPAP Users

Reminder: Always bring your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)/ bilevel positive airway pressure ventilation (BPAP) machine or mask to the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center so that we may verify your pressure settings and fit your mask if you are having problems.

During my sleep study, I am not sure that I will be able to sleep because of the strange environment and monitoring equipment. Can you help?
Despite the environment and equipment, the majority of patients do fall asleep in the sleep lab, and we are able to collect enough data to determine if sleep disordered breathing is present.

How often should I replace my equipment's masks, headgear, and tubing?
Masks, headgear, and tubings should be replaced every six months. At that time, masks and headgear will begin to show wear and lose elasticity, and as a result, the mask may begin to leak because it doesn't fit as well as it should. Leaking means that you are not getting the therapy you need. Replace your equipment regularly, and check with your insurance carrier. Most insurance plans cover mask and headgear replacement every six months.

How often should I inspect and replace my equipment's filters?
Many CPAP and BPAP units have filters that need to be inspected weekly and replaced when they appear dirty.

How do I clean my humidifier? And how often should I do this?
Change the water in your humidifier daily. Only use distilled water in the unit. Tap water contains particles that may leave mineral deposits and affect the equipment.

How do I clean my mask? And how often should I do this?
Clean your mask every other day in a solution of mild liquid dish soap and distilled water that is not too sudsy. Rinse it thoroughly, and allow the mask to air dry.

How do I clean my tubings? And how often should I do this?
Clean your hoses and tubings every week in a mild liquid dish soap and distilled water solution. Rinse them thoroughly, and allow them to air dry.

How do I clean my headgear? And how often should I do this?
Hand wash your headgear in laundry detergent once a month or as needed. Rinse it well, and allow it to line dry.

What precautions should I take when I travel?
Use the travel case that came with your machine. When traveling by car, keep your machine in the glove compartment rather than in the trunk to avoid temperature extremes.

When traveling by air, always carry your CPAP/BPAP with you on the aircraft. Do NOT check it in baggage. We will be happy to provide you with a letter, signed by your doctor, explaining what your CPAP/BPAP device is and advising the airline that it should be carried on board the aircraft.

You should take an extension cord along with you if you are staying in a hotel. Outlets may not be conveniently located next to the bed. When traveling to a foreign country, a plug adapter may be required to make your power cord compatible with the power outlets of that country.

What should I do when I have nasal congestion?
Your nasal congestion may be caused by a previous sinus condition, a dry airway, or the positive pressure from your equipment. To ease your discomfort, try adding moisture to the air by using a humidifier, and keep your nasal passages moist by using an over-the-counter nasal saline spray. To open your nasal passages, you may use an over-the-counter antihistamine or nasal steroids.

What should I do when I have nasal/throat dryness?
If you are suffering from nasal/throat dryness, you are probably not breathing enough moist air. To remedy this problem, you should try adding a humidifier to your room. If you are already using one, you may consider upgrading your humidifier to a heated model so that the air becomes warm as well as moist.

What should I do when I have facial soreness and pressure markings on my face?
Facial soreness and pressure marks on your face typically mean that your mask is too tight. To help ease the fit, make sure your CPAP or BPAP is at maximum pressure when you are putting on your mask at night.

Tighten it until the mask does not leak, but no further. If you are still uncomfortable, call your home care company or the UPMC Center for Sleep Medicine for a mask refit. Always bring your machine and mask with you to the Center so that we may verify your pressure settings and mask fit.

What should I do when I have excessive gas and abdominal bloating after using CPAP or BPAP?
You may be swallowing air while using your equipment. To eliminate this problem, elevate the head of your bed. You may also try using simethicone, a drug that is available over-the-counter, at bedtime. If the problem persists, contact the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center.

What should I do when the pressure feels too high?
It may take time for you to become familiar with the pressure of your CPAP or BPAP unit, or a pressure change may be necessary. Contact the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center, and always bring your machine and mask with you to center so that we may verify your pressure settings and mask fit.

What should I do when the pressure feels too low?
Contact the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center or your home health care provider to check your machine. Always bring your machine and mask with you to the Center so that we may verify your pressure settings and mask fit.

Is sleep medicine covered by insurance?
Yes. We accept many types of insurance. You should check with your home health care provider to ensure that your CPAP/BPAP equipment is also covered.

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