Coronavirus Advice and Support for Sleep Apnoea Patients and those on CPAP and Non-invasive Ventilation
Wednesday, 18 March 2020 | Kath Hope
Firstly, please be assured we are doing our very best to support you and of course look after ourselves too during this time, and we do understand the anxiety that many people are going through. We too have our own worries during this crisis, and and is something none of us have ever faced to this degree and hope we don't in the future. What is important, for our mental health as well as our physical health, is that we try to keep calm and supportive of each other - as we're all in this together
Please be patient with us regarding support and orders, as we're working as quickly as we can, and please don't start panic buying from us like is happening in the supermarkets. We are pleased to say that at the moment all the charity team remain well, but are now working from home like most of the country. However, we do have a member of staff at the charity every day processing orders and as long as the postal service and couriers continue to operate, orders will still continue even though they may be a little slower with just one member processing them.
Regarding support, this will continue via our helpline on 0300 102 9711 but calls been diverted to our home so please be patient as we do not have numerous lines running. You can still contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org but again patience is needed due to the amount of emails coming in.
For quicker responses please join our very active Private Facebook Support Group where support can be shared between our members and charity team:-
If you don't use Facebook you can join our Hope2Sleep Guide Public Forum:-
Also follow our Public Facebook Page for other updates:-
Important Links to Official Public Health Organisations
NHS Website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for up-to-date information
Department of Health and Social Care plus Public Health England https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response for up-to-date information
NHS 111 Direct https://111.nhs.uk/service/COVID-19/ if you think you may have symptoms of the Coronavirus and their advice is NOT to go to to a GP, pharmacy or hospital initially
World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 for official worldwide news.
Patients with treated Sleep Apnoea or UARS (Upper Airways Resistance Syndrome)
Lots of queries are coming in due to misconceptions about the vulnerability of patients with treated Sleep Apnoea and UARS ONLY. In fact some patients have even been told by some healthcare clinicians their vulnerability risk is greater, which is not true when on their CPAP or NIV therapy.
Patients with Sleep Apnoea or UARS ONLY, are no more at risk to the Coronavirus than other non-vulnerable people and possibly less of a risk due to a better immunity, thanks to CPAP or NIV keeping us healthier due to good safe sleep and with better oxygen levels.
Patients with Underlying Conditions as well as Sleep Disordered Breathing
Patients with other underlying conditions on top of their Sleep Disordered Breathing like Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Emphysema, Bronchitis, Pulmonary Fibrosis and other lung disorders, along with Diabetes and people with Weakened Immune Systems, Pregnancy and people over the age of 70. Again, keeping compliant with CPAP or non-invasive ventilation will give these patients too a better immunity due to good sleep and improved oxygen levels.
For people with lung conditions there is extra help and support at the British Lung Foundation
For pregnant ladies there is extra help at Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
For diabetics there is extra help at the Diabetes UK.
For patients with asthma see extra information at Asthma UK.
Patients already treated with CPAP and Non-invasive Ventilators
It goes without saying that it is as important as ever to use our CPAP or NIV machines for all sleeps, as everyone in the world needs to look after their help the best they can. This obviously includes a good diet, exercise where possible and good sleep. Remember to take any additional prescribed medication and vitamins.
We already know the importance of keeping our hands extra clean during the coronavirus outbreak, but do also remember to keep your masks and other equipment clean too. There is lots of help with cleaning and other mask and CPAP/NIV problems that may come up on this page of our website 'Tips for Problems Sleeping with CPAP or Non-Invasive Ventilation' https://www.hope2sleep.co.uk/tips-for-problems-sleeping-with-cpap-or-niv.html
Please be patient with your own clinic as the pressure they are under right now is phenomenal. Many clinics are run by respiratory departments which are on the front line of this coronavirus outbreak.
To protect everyone, many clinics have had to be cancelled due to keeping everyone safe. This does not mean the staff are sat there twiddling their thumbs, as they are still looking after their patients as well as they can, along with often being sent to other departments to assist.
Take good care of your equipment, just in case there are any shortages in the hospitals in the coming months.
British Sleep Society's Statement added 17th April 2020
Additional Guidance added 20th March 2020
Frequently Asked Questions from CPAP and Non-invasive Ventilation Users:-
Can CPAP be used for treating the COVID-19 Virus?
No, as hospitalised cases of the COVID-19 Virus requires mechanical ventilation along with other equipment. However, CPAP and home non-invasive ventilators have good evidence to protect us from the virus and for milder cases of COVID-19 which don't require hospitalisation, people should try to keep up with their CPAP and NIV - sleeping alone with no bed partner, to minimise any risks to their partner. If you do have to be hospitalised, take your CPAP into the hospital and be guided by the medical team.
(Added reply 30/3/20 - Amazingly the F1 have now created a reverse-engineered CPAP machine in record time due for fast manufacture for hospitals treating patients with COVID-19 which requires specialist operation and monitoring. This has high hope of treating poorly patients not quite needing full ventilation, and possibly even keeping them off ventilation).
Should I keep my mask and machine cleaner than normal?
You should already be cleaning your mask everyday and hose and humidifier a good clean weekly, without this COVID-19 crisis. Continue this as normal. Do not start using stronger detergents as most will be unsafe for breathing, as well as damaging the mask. If you do become unwell with symptoms of the virus, or any other infection, then it's advisable to start cleaning the hose along with the mask everyday.
Do keep up-to-date with the machine's filters as usual.
Why can't I get hold of my sleep clinic?
Disruptions to many hospital departments are happening right now, and particularly to sleep clinics. Many clinics are run by respiratory clinicians, who along with other specialisms have been temporarily re-deployed to the front line and critical care to treat patients with COVID-19. They are obviously upset themselves they cannot continue to serve their existing patients, so please be kind and patient, knowing they have no choice but to prioritise COVID-19 patients, and remember that not only are they risking their own lives, but are naturally scared themselves. A telephone line or email system is in place at some clinics where possible for urgent queries and new equipment, but this is not always possible. We've placed links for support from us at the beginning of this article and thank you for your patience.
Are you sure I don't have a higher risk of contracting the Coronavirus with me having sleep apnoea and using CPAP?
As has already been addressed in this article, there is no reason that with good CPAP therapy you are at any higher risk than other healthy people (if it is just sleep apnoea you have without other medical conditions that are on the higher risk list). People are getting confused as some employers and doctors have identified their workers/patients as being a higher risk, but lots of these people have a BMI of 40+ which in itself is a higher risk factor, rather than the treated sleep apnoea.
I think I have sleep apnoea but am not on CPAP (or I've been diagnosed and not had a CPAP issued yet). Therefore, am I at a higher risk when untreated even without other higher risk medical conditions?
Unfortunately, we cannot answer this question and truly feel for you at this time. It's certainly a known fact that good sleep provides better immunity and health for the whole body and mind which sadly you won't be getting just now. Therefore, do all that you can to gain the best sleep you can get and avoid things which make sleep apnoea worse, like alcohol and over-the-counter sedating medications you can live without. Try to sleep on your side rather than your back and slightly elevated if possible. Also ensure the nasal passages are free from congestion which nasal strips and natural nose sprays can help with.
I'm getting concerned as I have been hearing about the higher risk to others when using my CPAP (or ventilator) due to the exhale valve on my mask causing an aerosol effect which can spread droplets of the virus to others?
It is certainly a possibility of a higher risk of spreading the virus when using a vented CPAP or ventilator mask (but not definite). However, it would be wise to make sure you are sleeping alone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Bear in mind though that the same advice applies to people who do not use CPAP or ventilators, and they too should sleep alone to minimise the risk to a bed partner. If, however, you use CPAP or non-invasive ventilation during the day and have carers coming in, then they should be warned that they may need to take extra precautions themselves, such as the use of PPE when visiting your home.
Questions for people with underlying lung conditions answered by a Respiratory Expert
Video showing F1 Reverse-Engineered CPAP for treating COVID-19
The video below was taken direct from the news on 30/3/20 as we're still getting tons of queries about CPAP since the great news broke out of the new type of CPAP machines designed and manufactured in record time by F1 (Formula 1) for delivery next week to the NHS.
You can clearly see these new CPAP machines are different to the ones we use at home, and as Professor Rebecca Shipley at ULCH herself said yesterday "these are reverse engineered" (from the original CPAP machines we know ourselves). Although we've seen demonstrations on the news and internet of what looks like our CPAP masks, it is likely that sealed hoods would be used or at the very least, non-vented masks.
The full spec is on Gov UK but needs medical or engineering knowledge to understand it properly:-
General Advice and Updatesfor everyone for protection during this outbreak
NHS News Alert
This article will be updated as new information comes through and please everyone keep safe, and don't ever feel you're alone. If you feel extra anxious do check out information at Mind and similar organisations like this https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/ and don't hesitate to reach out to us via the above links for any support you need.