Types of CPAP cleaners and the health considerations

When a person has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), their upper airway passages become blocked, causing them to stop breathing and wake up repeatedly during the night. Daytime tiredness, loud snoring, and frequent headaches are all symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. The danger of having a stroke, heart attack, or neurological disorder is also raised. However, a CPAP machine and other positive airway devices can aid in the management of OSA. Here’s how s work and what are the health considerations.

The CPAP cleaner: What is it?

A CPAP cleaner is a tool used on a regular basis to help keep your CPAP machine germ-free and clean. While the specifics of each model may differ, the most effective CPAP cleaners make use of activated oxygen to disinfect the device. CPAP cleaners get rid of bacteria and germs from your CPAP equipment—the mask, the hose, and the humidifier—using the same technology as water purifying systems.

You should know that the main purpose of CPAP cleaners is to kill germs and cleanse the device. Even with the use of a CPAP cleaner, you will still have to properly hand wash your mask every so often to get rid of oils, as they do not normally remove all the skin oils and sweat that will gather on your mask components.

How does a CPAP cleaner machine work to clean the device?

Multiple strategies, including ozone, ultraviolet light, and disinfection tablets, are used into CPAP cleaning devices. Here’s how each technique works:

  • Ozone gas – Ozone, also known as activated oxygen, is a reactive gas that can be produced artificially or found naturally. Although effective, the use of ozone to clean CPAP machines is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When using an ozone-based cleaner, it’s crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Most systems also have a filter that can convert ozone to oxygen.
  • UV light – Some CPAP cleaners use ultraviolet (UV) radiation to kill bacteria and fungi, just as the lights in hospital rooms. It takes more time with UV light, but it’s safer. The FDA has not approved the use of ultraviolet light to disinfect CPAP equipment.
  • Disinfecting tablets – Some CPAP machines require disinfection tablets; you simply place the tablets in the machine and run water through it.

Health considerations and safety:

A CPAP user’s health is at risk if the device is not kept clean. Bacteria and mold can grow and spread in a CPAP machine if the water in the reservoir isn’t changed and replaced with clean, distilled water on a regular basis. This might make things even worse than they are now. Furthermore, the mask might induce a skin irritation or illness after prolonged contact with oil and germs on the skin.

No automated CPAP cleaner has been approved by the FDA. The agency’s testing also showed that ozone-using gadgets released potentially harmful levels of ozone gas. Additionally, UV light from cleaning devices may not always be strong enough to properly sanitize a CPAP machine.

There can be various adverse reactions from use of ozone gas CPAP cleaners. Some of the responses are:

  • Issues with breathing
  • Coughing
  • Symptoms of asthma
  • Headaches
  • Discomfort in the nose

A person with OSA who was using a CPAP to treat their condition reported worsening of asthma symptoms in a 2018 study, leading them to consider abandoning CPAP therapy altogether. A CPAP ozone purifier was also being used by this person. Asthma symptoms improved in just 2–3 days after they stopped using the cleaning equipment but continued CPAP treatment.

There have been reports of a chemical odor, drowsiness, and headaches from CPAP cleaners users. Those with respiratory sensitivities, such as asthma or allergies, have been more likely to have irritation of the nasal, pharyngeal, and pulmonary airways. Because of the risk of harm to the CPAP machines, several manufacturers also refuse to honor warranties on devices that employ mechanical cleaning methods.

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