The Alarming Adverse Effects of Neglecting to Clean Your CPAP Machine

Snoring is the harsh sound from the mouth or nose that occurs when breathing is partially obstructed during sleeping. It’s unpleasant, but it may not be as simple as that. It could be a sign of OSA, or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a serious medical condition. Sufferers of OSA experience frequent breathing interruptions while sleeping when relaxed throat and tongue muscles obstruct the airways. The disruption results in difficulty breathing and causes snoring. When treatment is sought that results in a sleep apnea diagnosis, doctors typically prescribe CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy. 

If you are using a CPAP machine to treat your sleep apnea, congratulations on taking this critical step to protect your health. It doesn’t matter if you are a new user of a CPAP device or have been using one for years; it is essential to understand the importance of good sanitation. When it comes to your CPAP machine, nothing is more important than keeping it clean using a medical-grade CPAP cleaner. Busy patients sometimes neglect the cleaning of their device and forget to change the filters. Unfortunately, this can have a severe negative impact on your body. 

Your CPAP machine needs to be cleaned regularly to work correctly and keep your condition under control. When you are using the device nightly, it will eventually build up bacteria, fungi, and mineral deposits inside it. If you don’t clean your system regularly, the resulting build-up can cause sinus infections, pneumonia, and many more undesirable side effects. 

Symptoms of a Dirty CPAP Machine 

Many CPAP users have experienced the rapid growth of bacteria and mold in their CPAP tubes, filters, and humidifiers. Imagine that you are using your system regularly without cleaning it. After a while, you begin to feel lung irritations and are coughing. When you open up your equipment, you find a layer of green slime inside. This unpleasant experience can affect your health in many profound ways. Here are some early warning signs of an unclean CPAP system. This is what happens if you don’t clean your CPAP machine. 

Smell. Your sense of smell may be the first to alert you of a problem. If you are getting a musty smell from your system, chances are high that it is collecting bacteria, mold, or mildew inside. If your sense of smell is compromised and you suspect there may be an issue with your machine, ask a family member if they detect any off aromas. 

Skin Irritation. If your device is dusty, your skin likely pays the price for it. If you are experiencing acne or peeling skin where the mask touches your face, your skin may be reacting to contaminants. It’s time to clean your system. 

Frequent Illness. If you are falling ill more frequently than usual, you should check to see if a dirty CPAP is to blame. Sinus infections and pneumonia are frequent results of poorly cleaned machines. 

Runny Nose. CPAP therapy works as you breathe through your nose, and having an unstoppable runny nose is a sign that it’s time to clean the device.  

If you experience other symptoms such as a sore throat, lung irritation, respiratory infection, or congestion, these could be signs that your system is dirty. Don’t delay in examining your equipment and giving it a thorough cleaning.  

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What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your CPAP Machine? 

Doctors and CPAP manufacturers recommend regular cleaning of the machine for a good reason. In addition to compromising your device’s effectiveness and longevity, severe medical complications can arise from infrequent or insufficient cleaning.  

Your CPAP equipment includes the primary device, the humidifier water chamber, humidifier, mask, and the tubing system. It is essential to remember that every piece that comes into contact with water will be the perfect place for dangerous mold, bacteria, and viruses to spread. If the contaminants are not washed away with regular cleaning, you expose yourself to these toxins every time you take a breath. Here are some of the most significant health issues that can arise when you continuously inhale warm, moist air with bacteria, yeast, mold, and other pathogens. 

Sinus Infections. If you’ve ever had a sinus infection, you know how miserable they can be. This respiratory illness may take an entire week of antibiotic treatment to clear up. 

Respiratory or Ear Nose and Throat Infections. These infections may include pharyngitis (irritation in the throat), ear infection, or sinusitis. You may also be more susceptible to the common cold, influenza, or laryngitis.  

Allergic Reactions. Allergic reactions include sneezing, headaches, throat or nose irritation, and irritation of the eyes.  Bacterial or fungal infections needing treatment with antibiotics can also result from a dirty CPAP device. 

Pneumonia. Pneumonia causes difficulty breathing, fever, coughing with phlegm, chills, and many other complications. It may occur in one or both lungs. Severe cases may require hospitalization. 

Pneumonitis. Inflammation of lung tissue called pneumonitis is another serious lung complication caused by unclean CPAP equipment. Difficulty breathing, cough, and fatigue are common symptoms. If left untreated, pneumonitis can result in permanent lung damage and lead to even more severe complications, including heart failure.

Cough. Even a minor cough is enough to disrupt your concentration and disturb your sleep. Coughs resulting from dirty CPAP equipment can last for around six weeks. 

CPAP Cleaning is Essential for Your Health 

The above list shows what happens when you don’t clean your CPAP machine. There are severe health issues that can be prevented by adequately sanitizing your device.  But don’t let these risks stop you from using your CPAP machine and enjoying all the health benefits of restorative sleep. If you’ve been neglecting your device and are unsure where to start, find the basics on how to clean your CPAP machine and consult your device’s user manual. If you’re pressed for time, you might consider an automatic CPAP cleaning system.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to put your health first by keeping your device clean. Now you know what happens if you don’t clean your CPAP machine, so now is the time to make a fresh commitment to your health by caring for your system so it can care for you. 


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