Night after night, you introduce oils, dirt, and moisture that can turn your CPAP machine into a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and mold. If you don’t clean and replace your CPAP supplies regularly, the air pressure could introduce these infections into your airways. Proper use of your CPAP should not lead to infection, but using a dirty machine can. So while technically there is no infection caused by a CPAP, they can be CPAP related. For simplicity, in this article we will refer to lung infections caused or aggravated by an unsanitary CPAP machine as a CPAP lung infection.
Consider that simply wearing your CPAP mask exposes it to your breath, skin oils, sweat, and dead skin cells and that your CPAP machine continuously draws in dust and allergens from the surrounding area. Additionally, if you have a CPAP with a humidifier, as most users do, moisture can accumulate, giving mold, mildew, viruses, fungus, yeast, and bacteria the perfect environment to thrive, leading to a potential CPAP lung infection.
The good news is that the proper use and cleaning of your CPAP equipment essentially eliminates the risk of acquiring such an infection. CPAP therapy continues to be the gold standard for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. CPAP therapy can dramatically improve and even save your life, but if you have concerns about whether you may be at risk, read further to discover the top signs that signal a CPAP lung infection.
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CPAP Lung Infection: Top 3 Signs to Look For
CPAP users often experience side effects like dryness or stuffiness of the nose due to the consistent flow of air into the nasal passages. If the pressure is too high, this can even lead to bleeding and congestion. Both symptoms can be common among patients receiving treatment for sleep apnea with a CPAP but they can also be a sign of a more serious CPAP lung infection. Microbial build-up in your CPAP mask, hose, or humidifier may be the root cause of your nasal congestion.
Another common sign of CPAP lung infection is the complaint of shortness of breath; however, this feeling may or may not be sensorial. Therefore, it is always best to consult your doctor if you ever experience shortness of breath. It may be that your CPAP equipment is infected with pathogenic microorganisms building up due to prolonged neglect of your CPAP equipment, or it may be because you aren’t getting enough air from the CPAP itself. Even though CPAP equipment can take some getting used to, it’s essential to be compliant with wearing it. Not using your CPAP mask and machine as prescribed can cause more significant health problems such as fatigue, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.
Phlegm is a specific form of mucus that originates in the lungs and lower respiratory tract. While the primary function of mucus in the body is protective, phlegm is more associated with disease and can be difficult to expel from the body. Phlegm is a productive secretion of the airway that develops during infection and inflammation of the respiratory track. Phlegm usually contains mucus with virus, bacteria, other debris, and sloughed-off inflammatory cells. A cough with phlegm produces sputum and may indicate a serious condition. During an illness such as the flu or pneumonia, phlegm becomes more excessive, making the elimination of the bacteria or viral particles from within the body a drastically more difficult process. Other major illnesses such as acute bronchitis are also associated with excessive phlegm. If you have noticed thick or discolored sputum or an increased cough, contact your doctor as you may be developing signs of a CPAP lung infection.
With thorough cleaning and maintenance of your equipment, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever develop a CPAP lung infection; however, doing so by hand can be a tedious and time-consuming process. If you are looking for a simpler option to safeguard your CPAP, there are two types of sanitizing systems on the market that allow you to simply place the CPAP parts in the machine, push a button, and let it do the work for you. The first uses activated oxygen (ozone) to clean the CPAP parts, and the other uses ultraviolet light. Regardless of whether you choose to purchase a CPAP cleaning system or just use elbow grease, the investment in cleanliness should pay off in long-term health benefits. If you’re experiencing any of the three signs of CPAP lung infection, consult your medical provider. If you’re looking for an easier alternative to keep your CPAP safe and clean, check out our collection today.