Here are the best tips for Sleep Apnea patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
During such challenging times, paying even more attention to personal hygiene and disinfection is of primordial importance. The majority of patients with Sleep Apnea ask themselves if they should take even more drastic precautions as a means to protect them from developing Covid-19. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine– AASM- it is yet unclear if sleep apnea represents a higher risk of getting Coronavirus. However, focusing even more on personal hygiene and general disinfection of your CPAP equipment is now more important than ever.
According to AASM, people at higher risk for coronavirus include the following categories: older adults, people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung problems or kidney health disorders. Furthermore, people who have a certain medical disorder and take medication that weakens the immune system are also at higher risk.
The CDC highly recommends that you should properly clean and disinfect your CPAP equipment. To do this correctly, you should closely follow the instructions offered by the manufacturer. Regularly cleaning your CPAP mask and hose using lukewarm water and soap should help to keep the virus at bay. It is yet unclear if extra disinfection measures should be taken regarding CPAP cleaning due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the CDC, you should pay special attention not only to your CPAP equipment but also to the surfaces you regularly touch in your home. Disinfect as frequently as possible these surfaces, including the light switches, handles, door knobs, shares surfaces such as tables and countertops. Keeping your home environment properly cleaned and disinfected will further reduce the risk of you spreading the virus to others in your household, or from catching the disease through contamination.
- Regularly wash your hands using soap and water. Washing your hands (scrubbing) vigorously for 20 seconds, will help properly disinfecting your hands and killing the potential virus
- When it is not possible to properly wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol.
- Never touch your face – eyes, mouth, nasal area- if your hands are not clean
- Consider everything that you touch outside your home a possible contaminated surface. This is why, after touching such surfaces, immediately disinfect/ wash rigorously your hands before touching your face.
Current CDC tips if you are sick with the coronavirus/ feeling unwell (high body temperature, dry cough, runny nose and other symptoms that might be indicators of flu/coronavirus infection)
- Separate yourself from other people in your home. Sleep in a separate room, use a separate bathroom, take turns when eating in the kitchen.
- Stay at home
- Always wear a face mask when you are around other people in your household
- Always cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue. If the tissue is not readily available, cough/ sneeze in your elbow, not your hands
- Wash your hands extremely often with soap and water
- perform regular disinfection of all the surfaces you have touched in your home before other people in your household can touch them and possibly catch the virus
- Seek medical care if your symptoms are getting worse. Always call and tell them about your symptoms. Never attempt to visit the hospital/ your doctor
Coronavirus & Obstructive Sleep Apnea Guiding – British Thoracic Society, British Sleep Society, Association for Respiratory Technology & Physiology and Sleep Apnea Trust Association
This is general advice and guidance for people with the requirement of using a CPAP, their families and also health care workers. Home advice and guidance:
- People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea should use their CPAP in their home environment as usual
- There is no evidence available suggesting that the use of a CPAP will put you at a higher risk of catching Covid-19. There is also no evidence available to suggest that the use of a CPAP will make you feel more unwell if you do develop the disease
- In case a CPAP user develops symptoms that are representative for Coronavirus- such as a new type of cough and fever- it is important that any CPAP user will strictly follow the government guidance on self-isolation
- There is no evidence yet suggesting that the CPAP makes the spread of the virus worse within the home.
- Any type of respiratory infection, especially with blocked nasal passages will make it more difficult to use the CPAP. You can continue to use it, but in case the use of your CPAP only worsens your symptoms – more disturbed sleep, and even more persistent cough- then you can try to stop using your CPAP until your symptoms will improve. Then, you can return to using your CPAP equipment as needed. OSA symptoms can be reduced if you try sleeping more in an upright position to facilitate breathing, avoid drinking alcohol, and use a mandibular advancement split.
- Focus greatly on routine hygiene and maintenance on your CPAP equipment. This includes changing the machine filters on a regular basis, cleaning/ disinfecting surfaces, cleaning the mask/ tubing more frequently, and wash your hands as frequently as possible.
- Ensure to have spare masks and tubing, so that you can change them when needed and not have to face the temporary shortage in the upcoming period.
Sleep Apnea and the Risk for Coronavirus
Coronavirus is a new, unprecedented virus and this is why scientists are still working on trying to figure out how it affects the human body. Scientists until now can say that there are two risk factors related to Obstructive Sleep Apnea that can possibly lead to more serious complications from the Covid-19 disease. These factors include age and chronic underlying conditions. The elderly and people with certain underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing complications if they catch the Coronavirus.
Stay safe from Coronavirus. If you are in the 60+ age category, and you also have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory condition or Diabetes, make sure to avoid crowded places or certain places where you might come into contact with sick people.
Before touching your mask or tubing, ensure to wash your hands thoroughly. You can easily transfer the virus from your hands, onto the mask which you will then put over your mouth and nose. Also ensure to keep our CPAP machine far away from places where other people could sneeze, cough or breathe on it. Minimize exposure of your lungs by cleaning well and often your CPAP machine. Follow the instructions from your manufacturer, by using water and soap or use more regularly disinfecting wipes with alcohol and other biocide ingredients. If using such wipes, make sure to cover the entire surface of your machine through wiping, and ensure the surface is wet. Then, allow it to air dry.
- Monitor closely your symptoms. In case you notice that you have a new cough that is persistent, and fever or even trouble breathing contact your physician.
According to the CDC, Coronavirus spreads through direct contact:
- Person to person through contact (touch) or through droplets by coughing/ sneezing
- Person to surface to person- sick person touches the surface, and healthy person touches the same surface, then touches face
The spread of the virus can be slowed down by using disinfectants on surfaces. There is a list of 100+ proven disinfectants that have been tested to stop the spread of these pathogens from hard surfaces. The products have also received EPA’s approval that the respective products can be used safely, when used according to the indicators on the labels. These products included on the CBC – Center for Biocide Chemistries- list can be checked out here:
Humidifiers and Distilled water
The recommendation of manufacturers is to use distilled water in your humidifier. Distilled water is a type of water where all the minerals have been removed, so this will help to prevent any mineral buildup within your humidifier. However, in case there is a shortage of distilled water in your area, you can still use regular tap water in your humidifier. You only need to pay more attention to regularly and thoroughly cleaning your water reservoir in order to prevent the mineral buildup inside the eater reservoir.
There is no reason to panic, which only accelerates fears and prevents you from getting a restful night of sleep. Good quality sleep is a precious ingredient for a powerful immune system that is ready to take the fight with any virus that comes along. Practicing good hygiene and paying more attention to the disinfection of surfaces in your home will definitely minimize the risk of exposure to the novel Coronavirus.
If you are experiencing symptoms it is important to contact your physician. He will redirect you towards the most beneficial treatment plan in our particular case. Stay home in order to stay safe and enjoy required CPAP therapy for your well-being. Always get your information through reliable sources, and do not assimilate the fake news and alert messages circulating on social media meant to create even more panic.
Don’t’ neglect your Sleep Apnea treatment and choose the best CPAP machine for you.