Chances are, despite all of your best hygienic efforts, you will get sick at some point. This article is a resource for anyone who uses a CPAP machine and struggles with a cold at the same time. Getting a good night’s sleep can become a daunting task when dealing with a head cold and is only amplified for those suffering from Sleep Apnea.
Combine those two things with trying to use your CPAP machine, and you may be tempted to double up your dosage of nightly cold medicine.
Of course, the severity of your Sleep Apnea can make a difference, so it’s always best to check with your doctor before using your CPAP machine when you’re sick. Here, we have a handful of tips, tricks and other solutions you can try as you nurse yourself back to health:
Should You Stop Using Your CPAP Machine if You Have a Cold?
If you have a cold, it’s a good idea to try to continue your CPAP therapy, if you can. Having a cold will make you tired, and if you’re also feeling tired from not treating your Sleep Apnea, you’re not going to have much energy. If you continue CPAP therapy, you may be able to keep your Sleep Apnea symptoms in check, giving you more energy to fight the cold.
In the next section, we’ll be discussing other strategies that can help you CPAP with a cold.
How to Use CPAP With a Cold
If you’re trying to stick it out and CPAP with a cold, there are a couple of things you can do it make it easier on you. Here are some tips that may help.
Sleep on your side or elevate your head.
If you’re wondering how to use CPAP with a cold, try changing your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back can often make congestion worse. Try sleeping on your side — there are even specific pillows available for side sleepers who wear CPAP face masks.
If you find that you are strictly a back sleeper, use extra pillows to elevate your head to allow the mucus to drain, rather than stuff you up.
Sleeping on your side uses gravity to help open the airway naturally using gravity. This means your CPAP machine doesn’t have to work as hard to open your airway and can mean a lower AHI. If you are trying to CPAP with a cold, sleeping on your side may help.
Use a heated humidifier.
Heated humidifiers work by restoring moisture levels to mucous membranes and nasal passages, alleviating the extreme discomfort that goes along with a congested upper respiratory system.
Heated humidifiers help those who are struggling not only with a head cold, but they also make the CPAP therapy experience exceptionally more pleasant for those suffering from allergies, dry nose, and other nasal issues. Use a heated humidifier at night and your nasal passages will thank you.
Use a decongestant and nasal spray.
This probably seems obvious, but there are plenty of over-the-counter nasal sprays that clear congestion caused by the common cold or flu. Another way to CPAP with a cold is to use a saline nasal rinse to clear your nasal passages prior to using your CPAP machine.
Just remember: if you choose to use an over-the-counter nasal spray, consult your physician first, especially if you suffer from high blood pressure. Certain medications, when combined with others, can have negative health effects.
Try an APAP machine.
The traditional CPAP machine provides a singular flow of therapeutic pressure through the respiratory system, whereas an APAP machine, known as Auto Positive Airway Pressure (APAP), uses unique algorithms to provide continuous pressure at levels that are automatically regulated.
When using an APAP machine, the machine itself will adjust air pressure accordingly so all you have to do is sleep. When you are sick, the need for more or less pressure depends on how well you’re breathing, making an APAP machine your most suitable option.
If using a nasal mask, substitute it out for a full face CPAP mask.
Congestion can leave your nose out of commission, so using a full face CPAP mask is a great option, as it allows you to breathe through your mouth while you sleep. While the air pressure blowing through the nasal mask may open your nasal passages up enough, a full face CPAP mask may be your ideal solution.
Regular Cleaning Can Help Keep You from Getting Sick
Cleaning your CPAP equipment regularly can help stave off future infections. When you’re sick, germs populate in and around your mask, and as you start to get better, there’s a chance you can get reinfected. That’s why it’s important to follow a more rigorous cleaning schedule when you’re sick.
Ideally, you should clean your mask once daily when you’re sick. This is especially true if you have a nasal pillow mask, as the nasal pillow mask style makes a lot of contact with the nostrils. Regular cleaning can also stave off future infections by giving germs less chance to turn into something you’re not going to be immune to. It will help keep you healthier longer and make it easier to recover if you do get sick.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful as you try to adjust to CPAP with a cold. Find more solutions to common CPAP problems here.
Having a cold during the winter months is never fun, and adding CPAP therapy into the mix complicates things. With these tips, you can get a better night’s sleep and feel better in no time!
Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.