No one likes having to toss out a perfectly good appliance. But nothing lasts forever, and that includes CPAP machines and masks. Even the most lovingly cared-for CPAP masks and equipment have to be replaced. So how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye to your trusty CPAP gear? Here are a few pointers on what to look for:
Loss of Performance:
Just like us, CPAP masks can get wrinkly and soft as they age. The oils from our skin will breakdown the silicone, plastic and rubber used in CPAP masks making them less efficient over time. Look for cracks in the seal and discoloration (that’s usually a sign your mask is past its expiry date). Most people wear a CPAP mask for 8 hours a day - that’s brings a lot of wear-and-tear. Also, be aware of your mask’s seal. Is it still tight? Do you feel air coming in our out of it? If so, it might be time to replace it.
If parts of your CPAP mask, tubing or water chamber are turning yellow or cloudy it might be time to replace them. Those are clear signs of dirt build-up that can’t be washed away. If you see black spots on your CPAP mask, tubing or water chamber, replace it immediately! This is a sign of mold and it could make you sick.
Something Smells Wrong:
Take a good whiff of your CPAP gear? How does it smell? If it’s starting to get funky, it needs to go! Even if you clean them regularly, CPAP machines can build up mold and mildew inside of them. That could mean you are breathing in bacteria and pathogens when you sleep. Make sure your equipment is always clean and dry after you use it - that’ll keep those nasty bugs from calling your CPAP home.
There are a number of reasons why you might be breaking out in a rash or have irritated skin; sometimes your mask might be on too tight. But a buildup of facial oils on your CPAP mask could cause irritation too. Make sure to thoroughly clean your CPAP mask after every use. If you keep breaking out, it might be time to toss it out.
Your CPAP Therapy Ain’t What it Used to Be:
If you’re waking up not feeling as refreshed and rested as usual, or if some of your old symptoms have returned, all you might need is a new mask. Losing even a tiny amount of your mask’s seal can result in noticeable difference in your CPAP therapy. The typical life-span for well-used CPAP mask and headgear is about 6 months. Tubing: every 3 months!
The Calendar Trick:
- DAILY: You can prevent any surprises by checking your CPAP equipment daily; take a quick look at your mask and tubing after every use, especially after cleaning and drying it. Look for any small cracks or the signs of wear.
- SEASONALLY: Give your equipment a thorough once-over every three months. You can do this at the start of every season - that’ll make it easy to remember. Typically, CPAP parts like mask cushions, headgear and tubing start breaking down around the 3-month mark.
- DAYLIGHT SAVING: You should be giving your CPAP equipment a thorough check about every 6 months. A good reminder might be the switch to and from Daylight Saving Time. It might also be a good time to replace your mask, water chamber and headgear. It helps that most private health insurance covers replacements every 6 months.
We tend to take our CPAP equipment for granted. But considering we use it for a THIRD of each and every day, it sure takes a beating! Remember to clean your gear daily, keep it dry, and look for wear and tear often. This will ensure you get the most out of your equipment and maintain the best CPAP therapy.