There you are, sneezing your head off as you reach for yet another tissue – and now you’re wondering whether you should use CPAP with a cold. Grab a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and you’ll get the answer before your Saltines dissolve.
As you know, CPAP therapy helps keep your airway open as you sleep at night so you don’t stop breathing. You’ve got a mask that goes over your nose, your mouth, or both, and some tubing that delivers a stream of pressurized air – maybe even humidified air. So, what happens when you’ve got a cold, and your airways are a tad stuffy, drippy, and congested?
When your nose is congested because of a cold, it’s already much harder to breathe than normal. Add a CPAP mask, and it can get even worse – and messy. We won’t go into it, but just picture an astronaut who’s come down with a cold going out on a spacewalk… ahh, ahhh, ahhhCHOO! Cleanup on aisle four, right?
Or, how about if your nose isn’t congested, but you’ve got a nasty cough. You know the kind – like you’re going to lose a lung, or at least consciousness, at any moment. Maybe the last thing you want is to have a stream of dry air flowing into your nose or mouth, making that tickling sensation in your lungs almost unbearable.
If you decide that adding a night of CPAP therapy to the mix is just going to add to your misery, it’s understandable. You’ll be fine taking a night off, especially if you’re well established in your nightly CPAP routine. Just get back to it without delay once you’re feeling better. You only get the benefits of your CPAP machine when you actually use it.
On the other side of the debate, you’ll find many folks who find that using their CPAP machines when they’re down and out with a cold actually helps. Especially if your model has a built-in humidifier, you might find a constant flow of warm, moisturized air soothing as it hits those raspy-feeling lungs. It’s like using a room humidifier – but much, more effective.
You can always take some cold medicine to help battle the nasal congestion and diminish your sneezing. You might even want to try a Neti Pot to ease your congestion. As long as you’re not sneezing your head off – or your mask! – you’ll probably feel better by using your CPAP machine.
Obviously, if you use your CPAP machine while you have a cold, you’ll want to be extra diligent about cleaning it each day. The mask, the tubing, the humidifier – clean it all thoroughly. It’s not that you’re going to get sick from your own germs again, it’s just that you want to be sure you keep your equipment clean. This might be a good time to replace your filter, too, even if it’s ahead of schedule.
Every cold is different, and sometimes your symptoms will be so bad that you can’t even fathom using your CPAP machine until you feel better. Don’t worry about missing a night or two in that case – just don’t let a night or two become three or four, or ten or twelve. Get right back on the program as soon as you can.
Don’t assume you’ll want to bail on your CPAP usage just because you’ve got a cold. You might be surprised to find out that it actually helps you feel better and sleep better. In the end, your cold might feel like it was much milder than normal, thanks to your CPAP machine.
Wishing you an un-raided stash of soft Kleenex and a super-speedy recovery. If you DO use your CPAP machine while you’re sick and manage to go through your stash of disposable supplies, we’ve got you covered. Just let us know you want to throw some extras in your next shipment.