Is your CPAP machine making you sick?

Bacteria and mold can accumulate in various parts of the device. But regular equipment cleaning reduces risks.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can be hard to get used to. The mask may feel bulky, or it may feel strange to have air blowing in as you try to breathe. That keeps many people from using a treatment that may, in fact, be a lifesaver (see "What is CPAP?").

People also can be put off because they've heard that a dirty CPAP machine can make you sick. Is that true? "Yes, if you don't clean the machine regularly," says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, a sleep expert at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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