A Guide for people who use CPAP or NIV therapy and CoVID-19

General advice

Individuals with sleep apnoea should follow the Ministry of Health advice regarding CoVID-19: 

https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-novel-coronavirus-health-advice-general-public

There is no specific information for people with sleep apnoea being at higher risk of contracting the virus at the current time. However, many people with sleep apnoea have additional medical conditions that may increase the severity of CoVID-19 symptoms, if they become infected.

CoVID-19 Symptoms

  • Cough
  • High temperature (38oC)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Temporary loss of smell

Home advice for CPAP users

  • During the CoVID-19 outbreak, people should continue to use their CPAP machines as normal.
  • For CPAP users who develop symptoms of CoVID-19, please follow the government guidance with respect to testing, treatment, and isolation.
  • If you are diagnosed with CoVID-19 there is nothing to suggest that using your CPAP will make you more unwell.
  • Any respiratory infection, particularly a blocked nose, can make it more difficult to use CPAP. Try and persist, but if wearing CPAP makes you feel worse, then stop using it until your respiratory symptoms improve. To help get a better night’s sleep, try and sleep in a more upright position, and avoid alcohol. However, your symptoms are likely to get worse while you are not using your CPAP but should resolve when you start therapy again.
  • It is understood that CPAP may make help the virus spread in your household. You should distance yourself from anyone in the same house who is vulnerable by sleeping in a separate bedroom with the door closed. If this is not possible, you may be able to stop CPAP for a short time with the agreement of your doctor.
  • The touching of contaminated CPAP masks and tubing can also help spread the virus. It is very important to clean the surfaces of your CPAP machine after every use and the bedroom needs to also be cleaned frequently, wash the mask and tubing in warm soapy water after every use, change the filters routinely, and wash your hands regularly.
  • Please contact your Sleep Centre for urgent clinical issues or problems with your equipment. If your issue is only with your equipment you may also be able to contact your CPAP reseller for assistance. Do not attend your Sleep Clinic or your CPAP reseller in person unless instructed to do so.
  • If you have stopped using CPAP for any reason there is likely to be an increase in your daytime sleepiness. It is advised that you do not carry out any dangerous tasks, including driving when you are not using your CPAP.
  • The same considerations need to be given for a child using CPAP as long as you are able to supervise their treatment. If your child becomes unwell, contact your doctor as soon as possible. They may be able to offer an alternative treatment for your child during this time. Do NOT stop their treatment without medical advice.
  • Remember, CPAP machines and masks should NOT be shared.

Home advice for NIV users

  • The same concerns that apply to CPAP apply to NIV users. However, NIV users often have more difficulty with their breathing and their issues are often complex so it is important to seek medical advice straight away if you are having problems. Do NOT stop treatment unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • If you have a carer looking after you and you are suspected or diagnosed with CoVID-19 and remain at home you should:
    • Stay in one room.
    • The room must be kept clean and all hard surfaces should be regularly disinfected.
    • Your carer must use personal protective equipment including a surgical mask, gloves, and apron, and eye protection when looking after you.
    • The carer should minimise the time spent in the room with you, if safe to do so.