My CPAP mask sometimes leaks air. Other times, it just feels uncomfortable. What can I do to fix these problems?

Your CPAP machine should be turned on to its full pressure before the mask is applied. For optimum fit, position the straps on your headgear while lying down. Overtightening the headgear can worsen mask leaks and cause redness or sores on the skin. A small leak at the sides and/or bottom of the mask is acceptable, but air leaking at the top of the mask can cause sore or dry eyes.

When I use my CPAP, I sometimes feel as if there's too much or too little pressure. What can I do?

It may take you up to four weeks to adjust to your CPAP. Try to relax when using the CPAP system. Take slow, deep breaths through your nose with your mouth closed. If you still have trouble, contact your physician or your Carolina Home Medical respiratory therapist.

How often should I clean my mask? When should it be replaced?

Your mask, headgear and other components should be cleaned on a regular basis. If maintained properly, your mask and headgear should last six to 12 months.

On a Daily Basis:
Wash the mask or pillows with a soft cloth. Gently wash with a solution of warm water and a mild, clear liquid detergent. Rinse thoroughly, and allow mask or pillows to air dry.

On a Twice-Weekly Basis:
With a soft cloth, gently wash the swivel connector and tubing in a solution of warm water and a mild, clear liquid detergent. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry.

On a Weekly Basis:
Unplug the unit and, using a cloth slightly dampened with water and dish detergent, wipe the outside of the unit. Using a cloth dampened with water only, wipe the outside of the unit again. Use a dry cloth to wipe the unit dry. Make sure it's thoroughly dry before plugging it in again.

On an As-Needed Basis:
Wash your headgear and/or chinstrap as needed, perhaps once or twice a week. Again using a soft cloth, gently wash each in a solution of warm water and a mild, clear liquid detergent.

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Will I always have to use a CPAP unit?

Your CPAP (continous positive airway pressure) unit is not a cure, but therapy. As long as your condition remains unchanged, the CPAP will most likely need to be used.

Common signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Snoring excessive daytime sleepiness restless sleep (may include moving arms and legs) morning headaches light disorientation/memory lapses irritability personality changes
  • Pauses when the patient doesn't breathe during sleep

Do I need to use my CPAP unit every night, all night?

Your doctor has ordered this therapy for you, and you sould use it as it has been ordered. CPAP should be used every night, the whole night for maximum benefit. In the beginning you may not be able to use it all night long. You may need to get used to it by wearing it a few hours more each night until you are able to use it all night long.

My throat and nose feel dry when I use my CPAP. Is there anything I can get that will help?

An over-the-counter saline nasal spray can be used to ease excessive dryness in the nose and throat. If you have tried saline spray but didn't find it helpful, call your Carolina Home Medical respiratory therapist to discuss other options.

Why did my portable oxygen unit freeze to my stationary unit?

Condensation or dirt on either unit will cause them to freeze together. Always remember to wipe the inside and outside of each connection with a lint-free cloth before filling.

Is my being on oxygen dangerous?

When used properly, oxygen is not dangerous. Oxygen is not flammable, but it does support combustion so it's very important to keep it away from sparks or open flames. As long as you follow the safety rules outlined in your set-up manual, your oxygen is safe.

How much will oxygen therapy cost me?

That depends on your insurance. Medicare covers 80 percent of the Medicare allowable, as long as the oxygen is deemed medically necessary by your doctor. Insurance companies differ on the amount of coverage. Your monthly rental cost should be on your work order. If it isn't, call your local Carolina Home Medical branch.

Why do I need to post oxygen-warning signs?

Smoking and oxygen are a dangerous combination. Posting the signs informs anyone entering your home that oxygen is being used in your home and that they cannot smoke. In addition, displaying the signs in prominent locations assists Carolina Home Medical delivery personnel in finding your home and it informs the fire department that oxygen is being stored in your residence.

How long will I have to be on oxygen?

Oxygen is prescribed for many diagnoses. Some patients, such as those who have been found to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), will require oxygen for the rest of their lives. Your doctor is the final authority on how long you will need the therapy.