The outbreak of the coronavirus is a difficult time for everyone right now, particularly those suffering from lung conditions, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or sleep apnea. Many of those with pre-existing conditions are left wondering if they are at greater risk for contracting the coronavirus and how they can best protect themselves. In this brief article, Ravikanth Vydyula, M.D., a board-certified pulmonary doctor in Tampa, looks at a number of concerns individuals with sleep apnea are having during the outbreak and discusses what you can do to best protect yourself and those around you.
Related: The Long-Term Effects of Sleep Apnea
Since the coronavirus is a new development, there is limited information regarding how it spreads and who is most affected. However, based on current available information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and those with serious underlying medical conditions have the highest risk of severe illness from the coronavirus. Conditions like diabetes and liver disease fall under the underlying medical conditions covered by the CDC, as well as chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma. This does not impact your likelihood of contracting the virus.
It is more important now than ever before to focus on effectively managing the symptoms of your sleep apnea through the use of CPAP therapy to avoid the development of severe problems caused by a lack of sleep. If you think you have the coronavirus and are concerned about the use of CPAP increasing the risk of spreading the virus to those around you, it is important to talk to your medical provider before stopping any treatments.
Otherwise, practice good hygiene by frequently and properly washing your hands and disinfecting all components of the CPAP machine, including masks, tubing, and the humidifier water chamber. Additionally, ensure that your CPAP machine is kept far away from any areas where others exposed to the virus may cough, sneeze, or breathe on it. It is also crucial to disinfect any frequently touched surfaces in your household like light switches or doorknobs.
Optimal CPAP humidifier performance requires distilled water as most or all of the materials have been removed, thus preventing mineral buildup in the humidifier tub. However, when faced with a shortage of distilled water, ResMed, a California-based medical equipment company, states that tap or bottled water may also be used because “it will not harm the device or pose a risk to patients.” That being said, it does require more rigorous cleaning of the humidifier on your end in order to prevent excess mineral buildup in the humidifier tub.
The bottom line is to err on the side of caution, particularly in the time of a pandemic, and contact your medical professional with any questions you may have about continuing your treatment for sleep apnea or how your condition could be impacted by the coronavirus. Dr. Vydyula, a pulmonologist in Tampa dedicated to treating patients who suffer from respiratory illnesses, is available for any questions or concerns about the health of your lungs in these troubling times.
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