Cold and flu season is stressful for anybody, however, for those who rely on a CPAP therapy for sleep apnea treatment, it can be even worse.
Often when CPAP users are ill, they will forego their therapy hoping to get a better night’s rest. However, it is important to remain CPAP compliant even when you have a cold, flu, sore throat or stuffy nose. When people who rely on CPAP therapy skip treatment, even for just a few days, their quality of sleep degrades, and their immune system is weakened- which can prolong the illness.
Here are five tips to manage CPAP treatment during cold and flu season:
Prevent an Illness Before it Starts
There’s no need to worry about remaining compliant when you are sick if there is no illness in the first place!
Common wellness practices during cold and flu season, such as washing your hands with warm soapy water regularly can help keep a cold at bay. If you don’t always have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is a suitable substitute. Try and clean your hands after touching surfaces such as handrails, doorknobs, and keyboards.
You should also try and maintain an immune building lifestyle, always. Exercise regularly and get the recommended amount of sleep at night. Eat healthily and stay hydrated to make sure your body receives all the important nutrients and vitamins.
Keep Your CPAP Machine Clean
Keeping a clean machine is always important, but it becomes even more so when it is cold and flu season. When you are sick, mucus and bacteria can get into your CPAP mask and/ or tubing. Also, there is a chance that you could re-infect yourself if you don’t clean the liners and filters.
It is recommended that the mask and tubing are cleaned every day. During cold and flu season, this is even more important to help prevent the buildup of bacteria, mold, and viruses.
Take Over-the-Counter Cold Medicine
You should take over-the-counter meds if you are experiencing a cough, runny nose, or sore throat to help take the edge off when you go to bed at night.
Use a nasal spray and/or decongestant for a stuffy nose. Helping to clear your nasal passages before you hit the sack will ease your breathing and make it easier to remain committed to your CPAP therapy. A bad cough and/or sore throat will often deter CPAP patients from using the machine as they feel that the air coming from the machine aggravates their scratchy throat. Use a cough syrup to help reduce throat irritation and to limit coughing. Only use the medications as directed on the label. If symptoms continue to be a hindrance, you should speak with your doctor about more successful treatment options.
You can also implement non-medicinal remedies, such as heated compresses and elevating your head with extra pillows, to treat symptoms and remain compliant.
Try a Full-Face Mask
When you have a cold or flu it usually means that you have a stuffed-up nose. When you sleep with a stuffy nose you are likely to breathe through your mouth more frequently than you do your nose. If you happen to use a nasal pillow or nasal mask, you won’t receive the full benefits of your CPAP therapy. While you may be accustomed to the nasal mask or pillow, it is good to invest in a full-face mask for back-up during cold and flu season. Full face masks allow the user to breathe in through both the nose and the mouth, thus receiving the full benefit of CPAP therapy, even when you are severely congested.
Use a Heated Humidifier
Using a heated humidifier during cold and flu season can help CPAP users get through the night by breaking down mucus and congestion with heat and steam. Many CPAP machines have integrated humidifiers. Remember to clean and replace the water in the humidifier regularly.
If you are unsure about using your CPAP machine while you are sick, or struggle to use it, speak with your doctor. Generally, it is more dangerous to suspend CPAP treatment than it is to use it while you are sick. Hopefully, our tips will help you to continue your CPAP use more comfortably while you are unwell.
Valley Sleep Therapy is your one-stop-shop for CPAP equipment and supplies in Mesa, Arizona. We invite you to browse our site for your CPAP equipment needs. You can always refer to our blog for additional information on sleep apnea and CPAP therapy.