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How Often Should CPAP Masks Be Replaced? Find Out Here!

How Often Should CPAP Masks Be Replaced? Find Out Here!

If you’re one of the over 20 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea, you know how hard it can be to get a good night’s sleep. Incidents of shallow breathing — or even complete pauses in breathing — can occur from five to over 30 times in a single hour.

Whether you consciously wake up gasping for breath or simply feel drowsy and lethargic the next day, there’s no denying that sleep apnea can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. If left untreated, it can even increase your risk for heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, and other serious conditions.


Your CPAP Mask is Essential For Your Nightly Rest 

Fortunately, solutions are readily available to help those suffering from sleep apnea get the rest they need. CPAP machines are the most effective and widely prescribed form of managing sleep apnea. These devices deliver a continuous flow of air pressure as the user inhales and exhales to prevent blockages of the respiratory system. 

Of course, the machine itself is useless without a way of delivering air to the patient, which is why each CPAP devices makes use of a hose and mask combination to ensure that the air gets exactly where it needs to go. 

There are several types of CPAP masks available, each designed to address a patient’s breathing style and comfort needs. Those concerned with the thought of “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” should also consider the different maintenance needs of each style. 

Full face masks are typically recommended for those who breathe through their mouth or need higher air pressure delivery. These masks cover both the nose and the mouth and have also been found to be beneficial for those who suffer from allergies. Full face masks are generally recommended for those who sleep on their back, as sleeping on the side can loosen the seal around the face.

Nasal masks only cover the nose, but still manage to deliver high air pressure. The indirect delivery of air results in a more natural-feeling airflow, even at high pressure, while the less-bulky mask makes it easier to sleep on one’s side. There is also less risk of the mask coming off if you toss and turn during the night. These masks are easier to adapt to different face shapes, however, they are not recommended for those who breathe through their mouth when they sleep.

Nasal pillows are the most compact form of CPAP mask and are inserted directly into the nostrils. With minimal facial contact and a more compressed delivery system, nasal pillows are generally used for lower-pressure air delivery. Their light weight also lessens the pressure or feelings of claustrophobia sometimes experienced by patients who use other mask types. They also are the least likely to result in leaks, as they can adapt to any face shape, including individuals with facial hair.

While patients should always consult with their physician to determine which mask is best for their situation, it is also important that they ask themselves, “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” Though such replacements are usually covered by insurance, understanding and following the recommended guidelines will prove essential for continuing to receive quality treatment.


CPAP Masks Don’t Last as Long as a CPAP Machine

 CPAP machine with sleeping man in background

The CPAP machine itself is relatively low-maintenance, and with proper care, can easily last for up to seven years. However, part of this proper maintenance involves correctly answering the question, “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?”

Unlike your CPAP machine, your mask and its associated components have a lifespan that is measured in months, not years. Replacing these parts in accordance with the recommended schedule will ensure proper hygiene and the delivery of adequate air pressure to your respiratory system. 

If the idea of replacing CPAP masks on such a frequent basis sounds intimidating, remember that Medicare and most insurance plans will cover part replacements. As long as you follow the recommended replacement schedule, ordering replacement parts won’t put a dent in your budget. To ensure that mask parts don’t fail before your next replacement, proper cleaning and maintenance should be performed as well.


Do You Know When the Components of Your Mask Should be Replaced?

Understanding when to replace the various components of your CPAP masks can make all the difference for your long-term health. Indeed, studies have shown that individuals who follow the recommended guidelines for resupplying their device sleep longer and do a better job of using their CPAP machine each night than those who don’t.

Below, you’ll find basic guidelines for how often you should replace the various components that make up your CPAP mask system. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines to help new users find answers to the question “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” The manufacturer of your CPAP device and mask components may offer slightly different guidelines for system maintenance. In such instances, follow the advice given by your device’s manufacturer.

So how often should CPAP masks be replaced? Let’s find out.


Nasal Pillows

 woman sleeping with nasal pillows

Nasal pillows sit directly inside your nostrils through the entire night — needless to say, those aren’t the most hygienic conditions. It is strongly recommended that patients wash their nasal pillows with warm water and mild dish soap after each use. Even with this care, those wondering “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” may be surprised to learn that nasal pillows should generally be replaced every two weeks.

Less invasive nasal masks don’t need to be replaced quite as frequently, but it is still recommended that they be switched out on a monthly basis. The soft plastic can deteriorate as it comes in contact with the oils and other contaminants on your skin. This can result in tiny holes in the mask system, causing it to not deliver adequate air pressure.

When replacing your nasal pillows or a nasal mask, selecting the right size should be your top priority. Nasal pillows that are undersized will result in leaks that keep you from getting effective treatment. If they are too big, they could cause uncomfortable stretching and even lead to sores in the nostrils. If your nasal pillows or mask don’t fit right, you should try to get a properly-fitted replacement as soon as possible.


Full Face Mask Cushion

 sleeping older man using CPAP with wife

It can be easy to confuse the full face mask cushion and the mask itself, but there is actually an easier distinction to remember for those wondering how often should CPAP masks be replaced. The mask cushion only refers to the soft plastic portion of the mask that comes in contact with your face, not the entire mask and frame system, which also includes the hard plastic part of this setup.

Because the full face mask cushion comes in direct contact with your skin, it is exposed to facial oils. These oils cause a gradual decline in the cushion’s sealing abilities, which can keep the mask from maintaining proper suction against your face.

This can result in air leaks or make the mask feel uncomfortable, which in turn will minimize the effectiveness of one’s sleep apnea treatment. Because of this, it is recommended that the full face mask cushion be replaced on a monthly basis. As with nasal pillows, careful fitting is essential to ensure a proper seal is formed against the face.


Frame System

The frame system is sometimes simply referred to as the CPAP mask, and is what most people think of when they ask, “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” The frame system encompasses the hard plastic portion of the mask. Depending on the manufacturer, this frame may be detached from the mask cushion, or the two components may be permanently attached.

A CPAP mask frame system will generally need to be replaced every three months. Though the frame system is exposed to bacteria and condensation, because it doesn’t come in direct contact with your skin, it is less likely to experience the rapid deterioration that occurs in the softer silicone cushion.

As with nasal pillows and mask cushions, the components that make up a full face mask should be washed with warm water and mild dish soap between uses. This helps prevent bacterial buildup between part replacements.


Mask Tubing

 tube extending from CPAP device

The tubes that connect your mask to the CPAP device should never be overlooked. After all, without a properly functioning tube, you won’t get adequate air pressure delivered to your mask in the first place.

Many of the same guidelines that answer the question of “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” also apply to mask tubing. With continual use, tubing is prone to developing cracks, holes, or tears — many of which are almost invisible to the naked eye. Air that is supposed to be delivered via the CPAP machine subsequently escapes through these holes, which keeps the patient from receiving enough air pressure to sleep soundly through the night.

Another common concern is the potential for condensation buildup inside the tube. This condensation serves as the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which could then cause your CPAP device to deliver harmful contaminants to your lungs. This problem can usually be detected by discoloration or a foul odor coming from the tube. 

Rather than increasing your risk of getting sick or failing to get enough air pressure, you should replace your mask tubing every three months. To prevent bacteria buildup between replacements, soak the tube in a water and vinegar mixture once per week.



 man wearing CPAP device with arrow pointing at head strap

The headgear and chin straps may not seem to have much of an impact other than comfort, but they too will need to be replaced over time. Fortunately, these components don’t need to be replaced with the same frequency as the other parts on this list. In general, CPAP headgear and chin straps should be expected to last for about six months. 

Those still seeking answers to “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” may wonder why these parts need to be replaced at all. They don’t deliver air to the body, nor do they have the potential for accumulating bacterial growth that could affect your respiratory systems (even though they can still absorb sweat and facial oils).

However, the headgear and chinstrap play an essential role in the therapy process by ensuring a proper fit for the mask. These stretchy materials adapt to your head shape so that the mask will fit snugly against your face. With continued use, however, these straps may get too stretched out, which makes them less effective at holding the mask in place. 

With too much stretching, you may not receive adequate air pressure from your CPAP device, even with a brand new mask. Replacing worn headgear will provide a more comfortable (and effective) fit for your mask.



sleeping man wearing CPAP mask 

“How often should CPAP masks be replaced?” isn’t the only part replacement issue you need to consider. Units that use a white air filter should typically have the filter replaced on a monthly basis to prevent the accumulation of dust and other contaminants. Some filters may even need to be replaced every other week. Your device’s humidifier water chamber will also typically need to be replaced after six months as deterioration of the plastic increases the risk of trapping bacteria.

Finally, the CPAP machine itself will generally need to be replaced after five years. Though you can get your device to last longer with proper care, it is usually a good idea to use your insurance to get a new device at this time so that an unexpected breakdown won't disrupt your treatment.

Remember, CPAP machines are a way of managing your condition — they aren’t a cure. Though not using your CPAP machine for a single night probably won’t result in a health disaster, it doesn’t take long for sleep apnea symptoms to return. Getting replacement components as needed (or even stocking up on backup supplies) to ensure you don’t miss needed therapy will go a long way in helping you avoid the long-term consequences of this condition.

If you need help following a CPAP replacement schedule, turn to Help Medical Supplies! We offer a wide selection of CPAP masks and their associated components from many of the top brands. Our convenient store will make it easy for you to keep up with your treatment, whether you’ve been using your device for years or you’ve just learned the answer to “How often should CPAP masks be replaced?”

With the right mask, we know you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep!

1 comment

i would like to see some of your heard g

Posted by johnnie collins

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