Can I Use a CPAP with a Cold? 5 Tips to Avoid CPAP Sinus Congestion

Managing CPAP with a Cold

Cold and flu season is upon us, and for those already relying on a CPAP machine to breathe comfortably at night, it can be especially taxing on your body. However, you must keep up with CPAP therapy, even when combating an illness. Failing to do so will degrade your sleep quality. Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is a critical factor for a quick recovery!

Using your CPAP with sinus congestion can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for using your CPAP machine when you have a cold:

Tip 1: Keep Your CPAP Machine Clean

It’s crucial to keep your machine clean at any time but especially during cold and flu season when you’re more susceptible to illness. When you’re sick, bacteria, mold, and viruses can quickly build up in your CPAP tubing or mask, prolonging your symptoms and increasing your chances of re-infection, so it’s recommended that you clean both the mask and tubing every day. 

Tip 2: Use a Full-Face Mask

There are several different types of masks to choose from, but when using a CPAP with a cold, a full-face mask is the best option as it allows you to breathe out of both your nose and mouth, so if it’s stuffiness you’re struggling with, you’re still able to breathe.

Tip 3: Nasal Sprays, Rinses & Decongestants

Saline nasal sprays, rinses, decongestants, vapor rubs, and other over-the-counter medicines can help keep your symptoms at a tolerable level but be mindful of daytime vs. nighttime labels. CPAP air pressure can sometimes irritate those suffering from a cough or sore throat, so using cough syrup will help relieve that scratchy irritation so you can rest better. 

Tip 4: Humidity & Heat

Humidifiers, vaporizers, or just visiting a steam room and breathing the warm, clean, humid air can help loosen the mucus in your sinuses, but remember to clean and replace the water in these devices regularly. The best place for this treatment is in a bathroom, where steam collects quickly. Also, try using a warm compress over your face or chest for added moisture. 

Tip 5: Adjust Sleeping Position

Sleeping on your back can worsen sleep apnea and congestion, so experimenting with different positions can be beneficial. Sleeping on your side or with your head elevated can help avoid airway obstructions and increase sinus drainage. 

While these few tips can help you manage CPAP with sinus congestion, it’s always a good idea to get ahead of the germs during cold and flu season. Wash and sanitize your hands regularly, keep your space and your devices clean, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise schedule. 

If you’re still unsure about using your CPAP with a cold or other illness, speak with your doctor immediately to work up a plan to get you back to sleeping comfortably sooner.