CPAP Tubing Tips
Tracy R. Nasca
While your CPAP tubing may seem like an insignificant component of your medical equipment, it plays a vital role in comfort and accuracy of therapy delivery. Most insurance companies follow the Medicare recommendation for CPAP supply replacement. Filters and tubing are both covered every 30 days. Check with your insurance company to confirm your replacement schedule.
CPAP tubing has the appearance of being sturdy when in fact it can be damaged and compromised without you even realizing it. The thin material between the coils can be punctured and allow the escape of air. CPAP tubing is often the last thing we think of replacing. We can see when the filters are dirty, the mask cushion and headgear worn out, but there are rarely visual signs of aged tubing.
Tiny holes indiscernible by the naked eye can be detected by turning on machine and blocking the end that connects to the mask. Run your hand down the length of the tubing to see if you can feel any air escaping. Replace tubing if you detect any leaks.
How did those tiny holes get there?
Think about how active the tubing is during sleep; being pulled from machine on the night stand to various positioning during the night. If you use a tubing lift, or drape the tubing over the bed post, friction at the loop can easily cause wear and tear. Most of us handle our masks with greater care, not realizing the fragility of tubing. Be mindful when cleaning the tubing, we can easily puncture the film with our fingernails. Those with pets report that the tubing is a favorite play thing and kitty or puppy nails can easily perforate. To protect the life of your CPAP tubing, use an insulated tubing cover.
Standard CPAP tubing is about 6 feet long. Many patients opt for a longer tubing to give them more freedom of movement during sleep positioning changes. Your CPAP pressure was determined by your prescribing physician based on the 6 foot length. When we opt for a longer tubing length, it can compromise the accuracy of delivered pressure. Some patients are tempted to connect two 6 foot tubes, this is not recommended. Generally speaking, it should be safe to use tubing up to 9 feet long, but discuss the use of any longer tubing length with your physician.
While 6 foot tubing may seem long enough, many patients quickly realize that it compromises movement during sleep. When I began CPAP therapy, I was obese at 297 pounds. Even with my CPAP unit sitting at the edge of my night stand and butted up against my bed, I still had to sleep at the edge of my bed if I wanted to change sleep positions by rolling over during the night. If I rolled over too quickly or tried to roll to the center of my bed, my CPAP unit was sure to fly off on to the floor. I likened it to feeling like a dog on a leash. I fought this for many years before realizing there were longer tubing lengths which helped this problem. In recent years, intuitive inventors brought us tubing lifts. These inexpensive accessories are a brilliant resolution to allowing comfort and freedom of movement during sleep. If you are obese and struggle with tubing length issues, if you get tangled in your tubing during sleep, if you have difficulty knowing where to place the excess tubing during sleep to keep it out of your way, a tubing lift is your answer.
The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Contact your physician or health care provider when you have health related questions. Never disregard or delay medical advice because of information you have obtained on this site.