Dear Dr. Roach: I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea in the early 1990s and have been using a CPAP machine ever since. I have just recently begun seeing advertisements on television for a product that cleans the inside of your CPAP machine. It is common knowledge that we must clean the facial mask, hoses and other external parts of the machine on a regular basis, as well as changing the filters, but I have no recollection of ever having been informed by any of my sleep specialist doctors that the inside of the CPAP machine requires regular cleaning. I also do not recall ever seeing any instructions regarding this in any CPAP manual. I notice that this new CPAP cleaning machine costs approximately $250-$300, and I have already read a few reviews posted by people who have had lots of problems with it functioning properly.
Is it really necessary to clean the inside of your CPAP machine? I've never been informed of this in all the years I've had sleep apnea, and I have gone through several machines.
A: A CPAP machine is a pressurized device used mostly for people with obstructive sleep apnea. I also have seen these advertisements, but a review of the literature suggests that there's a very low risk of infection or allergic reaction due to a dirty machine, mask or hose. Although the cleaning devices do work, I could find no evidence that they are necessary or offer any benefit beyond regular cleaning with soap and water. This should be done regularly. Filters should be changed every two to four weeks.
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