Blogs > Sleeping with CPAP

Assistant News Editor Lee Dryden was diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to assist with breathing while sleeping. From a layman’s point of view, he will discuss the benefits, issues, challenges and frustrations of sleeping while wearing a mask.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Have CPAP, will travel

  Traveling during the holiday season?
  Don't forget your CPAP. Sleep apnea doesn't take the holidays off.
  The machine is quite portable but there are rules to be followed at the airport in this post-911 era of greater scrutiny of airline passengers.
  According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines, CPAP machines must be removed from their case and placed in a bin for X-ray screening. Masks and tubing can stay in the case.
  Obviously, since this is a medical device, there are hygiene issues as the security equipment is less than sanitary. Put your machine in a clear, plastic bag before placing it in the bin for screening. Bring your own bag. You can even ask the TSA worker to change gloves and clean the general area before putting your CPAP through an Explosive Trace Detection test.
  I have not flown with my CPAP but let's give the TSA the benefit of the doubt that they will honor our rights and treat our life-saving devices with the utmost care.
  Blogger Bob on The TSA Blog encourages travelers not to be apprehensive about taking their CPAP through security checkpoints.
  "Our officers are very familiar with CPAP machines and see them numerous times daily," said Blogger Bob. "I wouldn't suggest placing your CPAP machine in your checked baggage, because if your baggage is misplaced, you'll be without your machine."
  Good point, Blogger Bob.
  It's not clear whether taking distilled water needed for the CPAP would be acceptable, but it's probably not worth the hassle since it's cheap and available everywhere.
  Despite the TSA's promises of handling CPAP inspection appropriately, there are complaints that they don't follow through. Many of these are via anonymous comments on online message boards so they can't be verified.
  Although this particular comment hits close to home.
  "If you don't have a CPAP machine, imagine they were inspecting your dentures, mouthguard, or sleeping eyemask with the same hands they'd just moved bins and shoes with. Ick."
  Ick, indeed.
  Let's remember the TSA has a job to do but we have rights in regard to our medical devices and must remind them if necessary. Come prepared with a plastic bag (my doctor recommends bringing a doctor's note, this is probably a good idea even though the TSA doesn't mention this) and keep an eye on the person handling your machine.
  Happy traveling and happy breathing.


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