The last thing that anyone with sleep apnea needs is to compound the condition with respiratory distress such as through the development of serious conditions such as pneumonia. While a recent study shows evidence that people with sleep apnea are potentially more vulnerable to developing pneumonia, there are ways to decrease that risk for CPAP machine users.
In the most recent study of patients with sleep apnea published in CMAJ, researchers found that more than nine percent of the study group with sleep apnea developed pneumonia. Researchers speculate that many of the sleep apnea patients that developed pneumonia were likely more susceptible to aspiration of liquid and other contents (food and drink) from the gastrointestinal tracts to the larynx and lower respiratory tract into the lungs. They also speculate that those using a CPAP machine that have this susceptibility may have greater difficulty in coughing up mucus from the lung, which increases the pulmonary aspiration.
Although further study is needed to make any definitive determinations on greater risk of pneumonia for sleep apnea sufferers, we do now that a CPAP machine, hose and mask that are not well maintained can lead to bronchitis, respiratory and sinus infections as well as pneumonia. Even the researchers from this latest study made note of the fact that CPAP equipment can be the breeding ground for bacterial contamination that can lead to the emergence of pneumonia.
This blog has talked a great deal about how CPAP machine users can avoid development of these respiratory conditions by keeping their machine, mask, and hose clean. These earlier blog posts have ranged from proper mask replacement protocols and maintaining proper CPAP supplies to the cleaning of humidifier water chambers and understanding the different types of CPAP filters. While each of them deals with different aspects of the CPAP machine and CPAP supplies, they all provide detailed information on daily cleaning protocols and replacement protocols for more effective therapy and better health.
For millions of people with sleep apnea, the CPAP machine has provided life-changing therapy that promotes positive short- and long-term health outcomes. It makes no sense to invite other negative and potentially deadly health effects by not keeping and using CPAP cleaning supplies to optimize the therapy and avoid conditions like pneumonia with a consistent cleaning protocol.