COVID-19, has the world on high alert about how to avoid contracting the virus. If you’re someone living with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or Heavy Snoring, its natural to worry about being more susceptible.
If you’re managing your OSA with CPAP, know how important it is to manage your condition and help you sleep, but anxiety about the virus is causing new sleep problems for many people. You may worry that using a CPAP comes with greater risks for a contagious respiratory virus like COVID-19.
Although health officials are still learning about the virus and the best ways to prevent and treat it, there are common questions about the impact of COVID-19 on sleep apnea and especially a CPAP machine.
Does having sleep apnea make me more likely to get the coronavirus?
There’s little scientifically proven evidence yet that sleep apnea on its own puts you at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 anymore than asthma or smoking.
However, risk factors for severe illness may include age (65 and older) and underlying medical conditions, as found in those untreated for OSA such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes, to name just two.
Should I stop using my CPAP if I have a mild cough?
You should continue using your CPAP as directed. The CPAP helps you get the sleep you need to boost your immune system but due to air exhaust it makes sense to sterilize CPAP components and sleep in a separate bedroom. CPAP may emit bacteria and viruses through exhausting.
If I have COVID-19, will using a CPAP spread the disease deeper into my lungs?
There’s no evidence yet that a CPAP machine will drive the virus into the lungs. If you are a candidate for an oral appliance this may be a better choice for you.
If I have the coronavirus, is there a risk using my CPAP will infect others around me?
The virus spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. A CPAP can spread the virus through droplets from leaks around the mask, or from the exhalation port. If you’re infected, you should isolate yourself from others in your home if possible.
The virus can remain on surfaces, too, so it’s important to disinfect high touch surfaces and keep a clean environment.
What if I’ve run out of or can’t get distilled water for my CPAP?
You can also use tap or bottled water for your CPAP, but it should be boiled. Distilled water is preferred because most of the minerals that can build up in the machine’s humidifier have been removed.
If it’s not available, you’ll need to clean the humidifier thoroughly and more often to prevent deposits from building up.
Should I clean my CPAP machine, mask and accessories differently if I have the virus?
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your device. The Centers’ for Disease Control recommends you clean and disinfect your equipment regularly using soap and water. Do not use chemicals such as bleach.
Machines marketed to clean CPAP devices and equipment using UV light or ozone haven’t been proven to be effective. They also aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If you have COVID-19, you should clean the equipment daily, but there’s no need to replace CPAP accessories more often.
What if I have more questions?
Staying in touch with your doctor is always important. Reach out to them with any questions or concerns you have. Helping you stay healthy is a priority right now.
Many doctors are unaware of your choices when it comes to Dental Oral Appliances and prescribe CPAP automatically – if necessary ask your dentist if he has advanced training in this area. An oral appliance can be a great option for those who are eligible – especially at this time of COVID-19.