Using Your CPAP With Congestion

Written by
Jason Smith RPSGT
Published on
February 6, 2022 3:37:44 PM PST February 6, 2022 3:37:44 PM PSTth, February 6, 2022 3:37:44 PM PST

Trying to sleep while congested is difficult. For the 25 million people in the United States who have sleep apnea, it's even harder. CPAP users will find it tough to wake up rested if they're tossing all night from nasal congestion. 

Don't let a stuffy nose disrupt your CPAP therapy and keep you from getting a full night's sleep. Read through for some guidance to help you breathe easy all night long.

Discover the Source of Your Nasal Congestion

Finding out why you're congested will help you determine which next steps you should take. Above all, don't stop CPAP therapy. Sleep apnea is dangerous and there are less drastic courses of action to try first.

Seasonal Allergies

If you know that during certain times of the year your nasal allergies act up on you, it's time to be proactive. Try a few different medications and find one that works.

Selective and non-selective antihistamines work very well for alleviating allergy symptoms. Some cause drowsiness and other negative side effects.

Another approach to consider is a saline spray that can help moisten your nasal passageway and help relieve inflammation.

If over-the-counter medications haven't worked for you in the past, there are other options. Doctors can provide patients with nasal steroids if they have severe allergies.

*It is important to talk with your doctor if none of these options alleviate your symptoms.

Common Cold

You may wonder if it's safe to use CPAP while you have a cold. The machine functions by pressurizing air to prevent possible airway obstructions. Because of this, a common cold will make it hard to use your machine. 

One solution is a heated tube. It keeps the air temperature warm through the length of the tube. This helps ease cold symptoms such as congestion and dry throat.

If nasal congestion from your cold is blocking the benefits of your therapy, you may need to adjust your CPAP pressure. Talking with your physician about adjusting your CPAP pressure may help with getting you a bit of relief.

Sinus Infection

A sinus infection lasts longer than a common cold and tends to be more severe. Since the symptoms are similar, the treatment options are also alike.

In addition to a heated tube, humidifiers help clear airways. The majority of newer CPAP machines come with humidifiers. They do this because nasal congestion is a common symptom of CPAP therapy.

While not highly recommended, you can temporarily stop using your CPAP machine until your sinuses clear up. Make sure to go through all your other options first.

CPAP Machine or Mask Issues

Sometimes, the machine or mask can become dirty, which ends up causing more problems. 

Proper machine filters require regular cleaning and periodic replacement. Make sure that you wash your filter with water at least once a week. Do it more frequently when you're sick or congested. 

If you are still struggling with congestion, you might want to consider adding a bacteria filter to your CPAP therapy. This add-on filter can help alleviate allergy symptoms and deliver the cleanest air possible. 

Swapping to a full-face mask might work better for you if you're having difficulties breathing through your nose. Many people with sleep apnea breathe through their mouths out of habit. A full-face mask allows you to continue doing this.

Breathe Easy Tonight

CPAP users know the struggles of trying to sleep. Between awkward masks, machines, and other supplies it's a struggle. You don't need the added obstacle of nasal congestion, but when it comes up you now know how to handle it.

For more information, contact us! We'll be happy to bring you closer to a night of safe and restful sleep.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.