The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has drastically altered life for the indefinite future and there is still much to learn about the prevention and spread of the coronavirus disease.
Based on what is currently known; the novel coronavirus and similar coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS, spread from person-to-person within close contacts of 6 feet or less. This type of person-to-person transmission occurs via respiratory droplets where the COVID-19 virus can remain active for 3 hours in the form of aerosols. On the other hand, transmission of COVID-19 to people from surfaces contaminated with the virus may also occur as fomites and studies suggests that the novel coronavirus is detectable up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel. This means that cleaning of CPAP machines requires extra attention since CPAP machines are mainly made of metal and plastic parts such as the hose, mask and nosepiece which can harbor the novel coronavirus up to a couple of days.
The hoses and tubes affixed to CPAP machines are notoriously difficult to clean and can become a breeding ground for viruses like COVID-19. The viruses trapped in these tubes will continue to circulate through the air that is pumped out by the CPAP machine putting the sleep apnea patient at risk and, if the mask leaks, will increase the risk of those closest to you. Patients currently using CPAP machines should consider using alternatives such as an oral appliance to reduce the risk of harboring and spreading COVID-19.
Due to the simplicity and hygienic properties of the oral appliance, many sleep apnea patients are opting to use the oral appliance, also known as Mandibular Advancing Device MAD instead of CPAP. For those patients who want to continue to use their CPAP, it is very important to be thorough in your cleaning regimen because the virus can stay alive within the CPAP unit for a couple of days. As a daily protocol, patients should clean the CPAP tubing, nasal mask and headgear in a bathroom sink filled with warm, drinking-quality water of (86°F/30°C). Swirl all parts around for a couple of minutes, rinse well and leave to air-dry on a towel or hung on a hook or hanger. Clean the filter by removing it and cleaning it with warm soapy water. Gently rub with soap and warm, drinking-quality water and avoid using stronger cleaning products, including dish detergents, as they may damage the mask and fitler by leaving a harmful residue. Place the cushion and frame on a flat surface, on top of a towel, to dry. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight. Clean the humdifier by washing the water chamber in the sink with warm soapy water as well. Rinse well and drain out as much of the water as possible. Let the chamber air-dry before placing it back into the CPAP unit.
Dr. Cheng obtained her Doctor of Medical Dentistry from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and completed her specialty training in Orthodontics and Craniofacial Orthopedics at the University of Minnesota.In downtown San Francisco, she is one of four Board Certified Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics. Dr. Cheng’s exceptional skills allowed her to study under some of the world’s best orthodontists at both Harvard and the Mayo Clinic.