How Dirty Is Your Mask?
How Dirty Is Your Mask?Have you ever wondered just how clean your CPAP or BiPAP equipment and masks are? Have you questioned how often you should replace them? How to clean them? What to use? At Dream Sleep Respiratory, we are here to help answer all your questions and provide you with the best masks or interfaces, hoses/tubing, CPAP and BiPAP cleaning supplies, and of course friendly advice and service when you need it.
The Harvard Study on CPAP Masks and Bacterial/Fungal Contamination
In 2009, a study was completed at Harvard University by Alex and Sandra Horowitz and Chinhak Chung (MD) to study bacterial and fungal contamination of CPAP masks and nasal pillows, if cleaning improves or eliminates contamination, and how long masks can be cleaned until contamination is permanent and contains what is called a biofilmof bacteria and fungi. This study followed 24 CPAP patients (16 men and 8 women ranging from 24-64 years of age) using either a full face mask, a nasal mask, or nasal pillows. Bacterial and fungal swabs were taken from the base of the mask or nasal pillow, as well as the base of the hose and from the humidifier as well. Bacterial samples were taken at 24 and 48 hours after the new mask was put to use and fungal samples were taken at 72 hours.
The results of this study were shocking and showed that 48% of these masks, circuits and humidifiers contained over 2000 bacterial colonies only days after they were brand new. These included bacteria that may invade and damage the skin, or cause hair follicle and sweat gland infections. One third of the patients in this study also reported newly-onset nasal congestion since starting CPAP without cleaning their masks. The Harvard study did show however, that when equipment was re-swabbed after thorough cleaning, bacterial counts were extremely low. However, over 6 months old, masks maintained higher amounts of bacterial colonies and fungal contamination despite cleaning. This biofilm was persistent despite cleaning and indicated the patients should purchase a new mask and hose at this point in time.
What Can I Do?
What this Harvard study shows us is that routine mask cleaning, as well as cleaning of your circuit and humidifier is essential for overall good hygiene and personal health.CPAP and BiPAP offer a warm and moist environment ideal for bacterial and fungal growth so regular cleaning of equipment is vital. If we think about it, hand washing is the best way to prevent infection in general, so why would you ignore cleaning the equipment that touches your face and covers your nose and/or mouth as well?
Dream Sleep Respiratory carries all the products you need for equipment cleanliness and is always available to provide advice. We carry mask cleansing wipes in different scents and recommend wiping down your mask every night before bed or after you wake up. Tubing and humidifiers should be washed at least once weekly using warm water and mild dish soap, then rinsed and left to dry on a clean tea towel. You may also use warm water with a splash of vinegar to clean your hose and humidifier and the hose may be hung on your shower rod to drip dry as well (put a towel on the floor to catch any dripping water). It is also important to only use distilled water in your humidifier to avoid mineral buildup and damage to the internal components of your machine. At Dream Sleep Respiratory, we also sell distilled water and offer one-stop shopping for everything you will need to care for your machine, mask, hose, and humidifier. We even sell CPAP machines such as the Philips DreamStation which has a dishwasher safe (top rack only) humidifier pot!
Calgary CPAP Canada
How Often Should I Replace My Equipment?
Our Respiratory Therapists at Dream Sleep recommend this:
• Replacing your mask or nasal pillows every three to six months to reduce your risk of skin infections, nasal congestion, and colds. Always make sure if you have a cold, flu, or runny nose to clean your equipment more often – we suggest on a daily basis during colds and flus until your symptoms are gone.
• Replace your circuit every 6 months or earlier if you can no longer effectively clean it.
Want A Great Christmas Gift Idea?
Do you have a loved one using CPAP or BiPAP? Why not drop by one of our convenient Calgary or Red Deer locations and pick up a new mask or hose for their machine? You could also grab a few different scents of mask wipes which would make an excellent (and larger) stocking stuffer! This will help keep your loved ones healthy through the winter season. Be sure to contact us today with any questions you may have. We are Alberta-owned and operated and always happy to help. Be sure to check out our new southwest Calgary location as well at Unit 212, 555 Strathcona Blvd SW. All of us at Dream Sleep Respiratory wish you and your family and loved ones a happy holiday season and a great year ahead! We thank you for continuing to support local companies like us and look forward to seeing you soon!