“Breaker, Breaker 22, this is The Prophet cruising on into the Big Apple. Any Kojaks with Kodaks before hitting the GW?” Possible CB chatter for a truck or commercial driver. Pretty standard fair to reach out to others on the road to gain some insight on what may be just around the bend especially state police with radar guns. But if you are a driver who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea and uses continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as your method of treatment, you probably don’t pick up your radio and ask someone if they might have spare tubing or distilled water in their cab. What are some CPAP tips for drivers (commercial and truck) that help them when they are on the open road far from home?
CPAP Tips for Drivers
It is first important to understand sleep apnea. OSA is defined as the unconscious stoppage of breathing for short periods of time throughout sleep due to a partial or full obstruction of the airway. Many sufferers are prescribed CPAP therapy, which works to keep the airway free of obstruction by way of positive air pressure.
There is a whole host of reasons why CPAP users are not complaint with their treatment, least of which is the excuse of issues and problems travelling with their machine. More so if you are a commercial or truck driver by occupation. Nevertheless, there are CPAP tips for drivers to follow, which can make using their machine a positive instead of a negative.
Whether you are using your CPAP at home or on the road, it all starts with proper care and maintenance. If you are a driver, you just need to plan ahead and take a little extra time to make sure that your CPAP is protected against dirt and dust.
- Keep your CPAP machine in a carrying case.
- If that isn’t possible, at least protect against the atmosphere and movement in the cab by wrapping your CPAP in a towel or blanket. The last thing you’d want is for your CPAP to be jostled around and break.
The proper upkeep of your CPAP machine can be divided into daily and weekly cleaning along with yearly maintenance.
Every day when you are on the road, you should detach the tubing from you CPAP and allow it to dry in a clean place. If at all possible, try to wash the tubing, nasal mask and headgear in a sink filled with warm water that includes mild dish detergent. You can keep a small plastic bottle of detergent, like Ivory Soap, in your truck.
Don’t forget to empty the water out from your humidifier after every use. Your CPAP is not waterproof so even leaving a little water in the chamber can cause damage. As a driver, it is also a good idea to keep a spare gallon or two of distilled water in your truck at all times. Using tap water can cause minerals to build up in the humidifier’s chamber.
Once a week, you should wipe down your CPAP machine with a damp cloth being careful not to get any water into the machine, and remove the machine’s filter and wash with tap water. For proper cleaning of the filter, just run it under water and squeeze to make sure there is no dust. To dry, blot down the filter with a towel. However, if your machine also has a white filter, it should NOT be washed. It is disposable and best to replace once a month. Additionally, it’s a good idea to replace more often if you tend to drive in dusty conditions. And of course, like your house filters, if the filter becomes dirty, replace sooner.
Weekly maintenance should also be performed on your CPAP’s humidifier. Clean with warm soapy water, and rinse well. Every other week, you should disinfect the humidifier by soaking in a solution of vinegar and water (in a ratio of 1 to 5) for 30 minutes, thoroughly rinse and then place in your dish washer’s top rack when you get back home. It is also important to only use distilled water in the CPAP humidifier as otherwise, mineral deposits will build up and cause damage to your machine.
Like with most equipment and machines, you should always check your CPAP machine for evidence of wear and tear on all parts. It is vitally important to keep everything as clean as possible as hoses/tubing and masks can be a prime breeding ground for bacteria and mold.
You should bring your CPAP machine in to your physician’s office at least every year, if not every 6 months, for maintenance and regular pressure checks. This is the perfect opportunity to replace tubing, mask and filters.
Whether your drive is short or long, it is always a good practice to have your CPAP model and serial number written down, a copy of your CPAP machine prescription, and latest sleep study on hand. Why? You will not lose sleep if your machine breaks down on the road, is lost or stolen.
There are alternatives to CPAP. If you have sleep apnea and would like to learn more about all available treatment options, we can help. Please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.