For anyone using a CPAP mask, there will be many questions. One of the common musings of those beginning the use of a CPAP mask is how long they last.
In this article, we will be looking at how long a CPAP mask lasts and how often they should be replaced. We will also be exploring why CPAP masks need to be replaced to give you a better understanding of the importance of doing so.
How Long Does A CPAP Mask Last?
Before we begin discussing the length of time you can expect to use your CPAP mask for, it is important that we keep in mind that the mask and the machine itself are separate entities. Both pieces of equipment will have a different life expectancy, but we will look at this in a little more detail as we go on.
In general, you can expect your CPAP mask to last you for between two and six months depending on it’s type and how well maintained it is. As well as this, we should remember that the different components of the CPAP mask will have varying life expectancies too.
The CPAP Mask
Your CPAP mask will serve you for a longer period of time if it is well taken care of. As with any piece of equipment that is used on a regular basis, you should ensure that the mask is thoroughly cleaned. On top of this, it is important to remember to check the mask regularly for faults or general wear and tear.
There are certain signs that you can look out for to determine if the mask has reached the point of no return.
- Does the machine display flashing warning lights?
- Is there a grinding sound whilst using the machine?
- Is your mask leaking whilst in use?
- Do you find that you are experiencing redness or sore spots on the face after using your mask?
- Are you having to tighten the mask more than usual?
If your machine is showing flashing lights, this could be a sign that the machine is on it’s way out, this is also the case if your machine is making unusual noises. However, if you notice any of the other problems listed, this could indicate that the mask is the cause of the problem.
How Often Should I Replace My CPAP Mask?
Depending on what type of CPAP mask you are using will depend on how often it will need replacing. Below you will see the average lifespan of the different types of mask.
- Full face masks can be expected to last for three months.
- Nasal masks can be expected to last for three months.
- Nasal pillows can be expected to last for two months.
The masks themselves are not the only things that you can expect to have to replace, with headgear and cushions also being items that will wear over time, it is important to replace these.
Why Is It Important To Replace My CPAP Mask?
There are two main reasons that it is a good idea to replace your CPAP mask on a regular basis, the first being for the sake of hygiene. When used over long periods of time, your mask is susceptible to a build up of dirt and bacteria. Even with regular cleaning, time can cause the hygiene of your mask to be less than desirable and replacing it is a simple way to ensure that it is always clean and safe for use.
If the CPAP mask is not kept clean during the time that you are using it, there are a variety of issues which might arise, these can include:
- Mold build up
- An unpleasant odor
- Allergies being triggered
- Risk of infection
Aside from all of this, you also run the risk of voiding the warranty if the equipment is not properly maintained.
Secondly, with repeated use, the CPAP mask will gradually wear. This wear might not be noticeable at first but can become more and more evident as the mask begins to leak or slip during use. By replacing you mask frequently, you can be confident that it will perform at its best and that you will be gaining the best advantage from using it.
Headgear And Cushions
Your headgear will usually serve you for around six months, and after this time it is a good idea to take the approach of ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ However there are some key giveaways that it might be time to get a replacement sooner.
If you find that you are having to over tighten the headgear just to keep it in place, this could suggest that it is time to consider replacing it. Most commonly, CPAP users will need to tighten their mask more due to the wear of the cushions or padding which has worn down. If this is the case, tightening the head gear too much may result in it becoming damaged prematurely.
To avoid this, it is wise to consider replacing the cushions. In most cases, doing this will fix the issues with having to over tighten the headgear. For the most part, you can expect to have to replace the padding or cushions at around the two month mark.
Why Do The Cushions Need Replacing So Often?
Many people might question why the CPAP mask cushions require replacement so frequently. The simple reason for this is that they are having direct contact with your skin. The skin naturally produces oil and when this is transferred onto the cushions or padding, it can break them down over time and cause them to slip.
To avoid your CPAP mask developing leaks, it is vital that you adhere to the two month rule of replacing your cushions.
One of the other parts of your CPAP mask that you will need to replace on a regular basis are the air filters. This important element of your CPAP mask protects not only the machine but also your precious airways.
The filters stop small particles of dust and debris from entering into your respiratory system, which as you can imagine would cause major problems. If these particles enter into the machine itself, this can also cause damage and stop the machine from functioning properly.
For these reasons it is important to regularly replace the air filters. It is recommended that you replace disposable air filters at least once a month and if you are using a non disposable filter, it should be changed at least every three months.
Making The Most Of Your CPAP Masks Life
If you are looking to get the maximum use out of your mask and want to make sure that it does not wear prematurely, there are steps that you can take.
- Avoid using face creams or serums directly before using the mask, these can penetrate the cushions causing damage and may cause your mask to slip.
- In the morning, wipe your cushions over with a damp cloth as a way to remove any oils from your skin which have collected during the night.
- Make sure that your face is clean before using the mask.
- Once a week, thoroughly clean your CPAP mask using a gentle detergent such as washing up liquid. It is important not to use any heavily scented soaps or bleach. Allow the mask to dry naturally.
Getting An Expert Opinion
When you think it is time to replace the various parts of your CPAP mask, or indeed the entire thing, it is a good idea to consult your supplier.
In some cases, replacement isn’t necessarily needed and it may be that some general maintenance can solve any problems that you have been having.
However, if it is time to get a replacement, your supplier will be able to advise you on the best product to suit your needs.
Upgrading The CPAP Mask
It is also a good idea to speak to your supplier about upgrading your CPAP mask to a newer model. Doing this can bring about many benefits. If you have been using an older model, you will know that there can be up to 15 separate parts to the mask which can be a complex build up.
With many of the newer CPAP masks, these parts have been whittled down, with some masks being made up of only four pieces. This will not only make using the mask much more simple but is also an excellent time saver.
It will be very pleasing to know that newer models of the CPAP mask are being made with much more durable materials and so the life span may be longer, provided that proper care is taken of the product.
One of the other notable things about the newer models of CPAP masks is that the cushions that come with them have been designed to be better fitting and therefore can be a lot more comfortable than the older designs.
The CPAP Machine
Whilst our prime focus is learning about the replacement of your CPAP mask, it is also important to keep in mind that the machine will need replacing at some point too, although this will be nowhere near as frequently as the mask.
Your CPAP machine will come with a warranty from the manufacturer and in most cases, this is set between two and five years, depending on the manufacturer. As we mentioned earlier, in order for this warranty to remain valid, it is vital that you take good care of the machine and all of its components including the mask.
We touched on some points earlier on which could suggest that your CPAP machine is coming to the end of its life. These are things such as warning lights and an unusual noise coming from the machine.
If you notice that your machine is beginning to malfunction, it is essential that you get it looked at by a professional who will be able to tell you if it is time to replace or not.
You can expect your CPAP machine to outlive its warranty, however there is a reason that the longest warranties are set at five years – the machines are not designed to function much past this point and most CPAP machine users will find that their machine needs to be replaced between three and five years.
Whilst your CPAP machine can be expected to last up to five years, the other components such as the mask and it’s cushions, headgear and filters will need to be replaced much more frequently.
Good cleaning and maintenance can allow your equipment to last longer, however the parts of your CPAP mask will generally last between two and six months.
When it comes to replacing your mask or machine, it is important to get advice from your supplier to A, ensure that a replacement is the right way to go and B, that you are getting the correct and most up to date equipment.