When talking about CPAP causing or not causing “bronchitis”, I think it’s really important to distinguish between the types and causes of bronchitis.
Bronchitis means “inflammation of the lungs”. Most of us assume that bronchitis is an infectious process—you get a viral or bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the lungs. This is known as acute bronchitis. This is actually not as common as people think, though it certainly occurs.
There is also “chronic” or “asthmatic” bronchitis—that is inflammation of the lungs as a result of an irritant or trigger. As someone with asthma, a cold or other trigger (i.e. smoke) will often cause inflammation of my lungs that becomes a full-blown bronchitis—this does not necessarily mean that there is an actual infection in my lungs. Chronic/asthmatic bronchitis is very common.
In chronic/asthmatic bronchitis, the lungs fill with mucous—kind of an allergic response just like an allergic response to pollen can make you sneeze and your nose will run. The trigger causes the symptoms, not infection, and at that point an antibiotic or anti-viral will not help. The usual treatment is bronchial dilators and steroids.
However, a secondary infection can occur because all the mucous pooling in the lungs is a nice, cozy breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. This can lead to pneumonia. But the primary cause of chronic/asthmatic bronchitis is NOT an infection. So cleaning or not cleaning the CPAP isn’t that much of a factor in chronic/asthmatic bronchitis. In fact, I think CPAP helps me avoid a lot of triggers that could cause bronchitis because of the fine allergy filter I use with it. I’m breathing clean, filtered air all night.
It makes sense to keep the CPAP clean because it is involved with your respiratory tract and there can be viruses or bacteria lurking, but it’s not such a huge problem in a person of ordinary health that the medical community would advise not using CPAP.
Midway says “there appears to be a clear link between Cpap users and repeated bouts of Bronchitis/respiratory illness.” but doesn’t state if these are evidence-based studies or anecdotal observations of CPAP users. If evidence-based studies, it would be important to read the studies to see if causal links have been considered. For example, evidence-based studies have shown correlations between people who use PPI’s to treat GERD and bronchitis and pneumonia. Note that a high number of individuals on CPAP also have GERD and may use PPI’s. The studies linking GERD with bronchitis and pneumonia haven’t yet determined if the PPI’s are causing the bronchitis and pneumonia, or—more likely-- if it’s simply that people with GERD are more susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia because they are the group of people who have a higher chance of aspirating stomach contents into their lungs because of the GERD.
Anecdotal reports that CPAP users have repeated bouts of bronchitis/respiratory illness don’t necessarily mean that CPAP causes these illnesses, it only means that individuals who need CPAP in the first place may also be in the group of individuals who are more likely to develop bronchitis and respiratory illnesses regardless of their CPAP use.
Likewise, the fact that your husband has had repeated bouts in this year since he started CPAP doesn’t mean that there aren’t other factors that may be concurrently causing frequent bouts of bronchitis. Has his physician evaluated the possibility that he may be developing some reactive airway disease, if he doesn’t already have an asthma diagnosis? That is a more likely reason for repeated bouts of bronchitis and it can be objectively assessed with a pulmonary function evaluation. It’s something that should be discussed thoroughly with his physician.