Nobody enjoys having a cold, but for people with respiratory problems or sleep conditions, having a cold can be a very frustrating experience. And if you use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine to help you breathe due to sleep apnea or another respiratory condition, you may find it harder to breathe when you have a cold or the flu.
Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to make things easier on you during this time if you use a CPAP machine, so that you don’t suffer through the whole cold and flu season.
Use a full face mask
Because a cold or the flu usually affects your nasal passageway, it can be hard to breathe through your nose while sleeping when you experience some congestion. A lot of people like to use a nasal sleep mask, because it is not as bulky and it can be easier to get to sleep when using this apparatus.
However, when you have a cold and you can’t breathe through your nose properly, a full face mask can be very helpful. Using a full face mask can help you to breathe through your mouth better and it can also help you to breathe through your nose as well, so it can be a good type of mask to have when you are sick. Then, once you start to feel better again you can switch back to the nasal mask if you wish.
Change your air pressure
The air pressure setting that your CPAP machine is on each night can make a big difference to your breathing and airways each day. It can be especially important when you are sick because you may need additional air pressure when you have a blocked nose or feel congested. However, not all machines allow you to adjust your air pressure settings, so you may need to invest in a machine that does.
Auto-adjusting positive airways pressure (APAP) machines are great for people who need a bit more pressure from their machine, and are sold where most CPAP machines are sold like CPAP Direct.
For everyday use for someone that has a low to moderate problem with sleep related respiratory issues, fixed pressure machines will work just fine, but if you have a serious condition or are really congested, you may need an APAP machine instead.
Give your mask a clean
If you use your CPAP mask every night, over time germs and bacteria can build up inside the mask and the tube of your CPAP machine. When you have a cold and you use your CPAP mask to help you breathe, all of the bacteria from your mouth and nose gets circulated through your machine, which can prolong the length of your cold.
This is why it is important to clean your mask regularly, so that you don’t re-infect yourself after your cold is gone and that you don’t experience any congestion due to the build up of particles in your mask. If you have had a cold recently it is important that you clean your mask as soon as you start to feel better.
You will also need to clean the filter as well as the mask itself in order to give your machine a thorough clean out, so deep cleaning your CPAP mask at least once a week is always a good idea.
Change your sleeping position
If you are having trouble breathing while you are sleeping when you have a cold, you should think about changing your sleeping position in order to breathe better. People who regularly use a CPAP mask may find that they need to sleep on their side as opposed to sleeping on your back, because sleeping on your side helps you to get the airflow that your body needs.
However, when you have a cold, you may need to adjust your sleeping position in order to sleep and breathe better. Propping your head up with a few pillows helps you to breathe better when you have a cold because it can help to relieve some of your congestion that builds up in your nasal passageway.
So if you use your CPAP mask and machine and prop yourself up while you sleep, you should be able to rest easier when you have a cold.
Try a humidifier
If you are someone who uses a CPAP machine a lot, you will know that it can make you feel dried out because of the way that it blasts air at you all night.
When you have a cold and you are feeling run down, the thing you want to feel is all dried out in your airways, but luckily there is a solution to this common issue. CPAP humidifiers are great for people that experience CPAP induced dryness because the humidifier will make the air that passes from the CPAP machine more moist.
Although it is not recommended that you use a CPAP humidifier every night when you sleep as the moisture can build up in the mask and tubing, it can be great for people who have a cold. This is because the humidity can make it a lot more comfortable for you to sleep each night when you are feeling congested.
It can be hard to breathe in your sleep when you have a cold, but especially so for people who have a respiratory illness like sleep apnea. Even though it can be uncomfortable to use your CPAP machine and mask when you have a cold, you need to persevere if you can because it can help you immensely if you try it.
If you experience anything out of the ordinary, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as you can, but sometimes you just need to ride it out and wait a few days before you see any progress with your health when you have a cold.