Getting It on the Plane: TSA Recommendations
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends against putting your CPAP machine in checked bags because you wouldn’t want to be without it at your destination if your luggage gets lost.
Instead, you should bring it with you as a carry-on item, but be prepared for extra scrutiny. There are some parts of a CPAP machine that aren’t very visible on x-rays. Ask the screeners to put on new gloves to screen your CPAP machine. You can also ask that they clean the surface before they put your CPAP machine down. They should use a clean swab to test your machine for explosive residue.
It’s recommended that you have your CPAP machine in a plastic bag to help reduce contamination.
Using CPAP on the Plane: Power Issues
Although for many people the upright position of sitting on a plane will prevent sleep apnea or snoring, for some people with severe sleep apnea, it is still a problem. If you want to use CPAP on the plane for your comfort or for those around you, you’ll have to be lucky enough to get a seat with a power outlet. You can remove luck from the equation by using SeatGuru to find out if there’s power at your seat.
Otherwise, you can try using a battery-operated version.
Powering CPAP at Your Destination
Before traveling to your destination, make sure that the power used there is compatible with your CPAP machine. Most machines will tell you what their acceptable power inputs are. You want to look at two numbers, the voltage and the hertz (Hz). Voltage shows the amount of current, and Hz shows how quickly the current cycles. If either of these parameters aren’t suitable for your machine, it won’t work, and may be damaged. Also check the style of outlets used in your destination. Usually, you can get an adapter for the current, and outlet adapters are readily available. Also be aware that many countries don’t have as many outlets as we do, so an extension cord can be really helpful for getting power to your CPAP at bedside.
It’s also important to check on the reliability of power at your destination–some places may have sporadic power outages that can interfere with your treatment.
If you’re traveling with a battery operated CPAP machine, make sure batteries are readily available.
Keeping CPAP Clean at Your Destination
It’s even more important to clean your CPAP when you travel, especially when you’re traveling internationally. CPAP machines can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms, then force them into your lungs while you sleep, increasing your risk for some types of infections, if your CPAP isn’t properly cleaned.
Generally, use the same routine to clean your CPAP as at home, but clean it more frequently. Also, if the water isn’t drinkable, don’t use it to clean your CPAP.
Oral Appliances Are Convenient for Travel
Of course, if you don’t want all the extra hassle of traveling with CPAP, you can get an oral appliance. Even if you like your CPAP at home, an oral appliance makes a great alternative for traveling. An oral appliance is convenient to transport, rarely needs additional screening at the airport, and requires no power. Even cleaning is much easier and less likely to be an issue at your destination.
If you are tired of the hassle of traveling with CPAP or just want to avoid it altogether, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with Omaha sleep dentist Dr. Roger Roubal at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.