Cold and congestion with the CPAP

by Vicki
(Montreal, Quebec)

I am a new user to CPAP (3 weeks!) and so far the therapy is going well. I have a Resmed H5i and S9 with humidifier.

Occasionally one or both nostrils get blocked and I either end up breathing through my mouth (I have nasal pillows and no chin strap) or rip off the unit for fear of suffocating.

I am normally very healthy but will be concerned IF I ever catch a cold. What does one do with a CPAP and congested nasal passages?

P.S. I am proud to report that my husband is able to sleep with me again!

Answer


What can a sleep apnea patient do if he has nasal congestion and uses CPAP with nasal pillows? Well...this is a good question, and I have some ideas for you:)

Nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing etc makes cpap use with a traditional or nasal pillow mask impossible!

It's bad enough having a cold, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body ache, fever etc, but losing sleep is the last thing we need to add to the suffering!

Getting adequate sleep actually is an important part of recovery as in stage 4 sleep, our body naturally produces antibodies to help fight off infection. When we cannot use our cpap and have poor sleep it just compounds our recovery.

However...if you are wearing a full face mask on the nights you have a cold or otherwise can't breathe through your nose, and use your machine, it would be helpful...at least you could resolve your apnea events and sleep better as you recover from the cold.

So, you might want to consider buying a full face mask to keep on your nightstand to use when you otherwise would not be able to use your machine!

I know what you are thinking, Vicki...a full face mask....no way!

But I think its worth every penny of the cost not only in dollars, but in your overall well being and health. We all know that losing sleep is the pitts - but when we are sick AND losing sleep, its truly miserable.

The full face mask will help you to recover quicker from the cold (or whatever nose problems you have), it also allows to wake up feeling well enough to go to work, when otherwise you would be spending the day in bed!

Bottom line... It's not a bad idea to have a full face mask in your arsenal, for those occasions when you have a cold, allergies, or are otherwise congested.

Full face masks are more expensive than nasal masks or nasal pillows, so if you must buy one out-of-pocket, it might just as well be the cheaper one.

Another tip...you can use a simple saline nasal spray to treat your nasal congestion. There are many on the market, and the best I know is from Ocean, but you can ask your doctor which one is the best for you.

Remember too that using your humidifier when you have congestion is also very helpful!

So, there you have it - if you can relate, these suggestions are for you!

Best wishes for a healthy sleep!

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide


Comments for Cold and congestion with the CPAP

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Sep 21, 2010
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blocked nose
by: V icki

Thank you, Remy, for your good suggestions. I will ask my sleep specialist for confirmation, but your idea of a full face mask seems like a good suggestion even though my mind says "no way!"
I tried saline spray and it doesn't always work effectively right away. Would it help if I raised the humidity level?

Aug 21, 2012
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Vicks vapo rub for nasal congestion
by: Ellen

I originally used a full face mask and found it a misery. Then I changed to a ResMed FX with chin strap because I am a mouth breather. Went along happily for quite a while til I got a cold. Despite cold tablets and saline sprays, towards morning I would always end up breathing through my mouth. Then my husband suggested adding Vicks vapo rub inside each nostril. Now the combination gets me through. I also have a heated tube and humidifier unit. Hope this helps.

Aug 30, 2012
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I bought a full face mask to begin with and found it very comfortable.
by: Jellyfishattack

I was pretty sure that I breathed through my mouth at least part of the time I slept, so I decided to simply purchase a full face mask to begin my CPAP therapy.

I bought a ResMed Quattro FX, and after the first few nights found that it was actually very comfortable and often when my nose is partially congested, after about 5-10 minutes using the mask, I can breathe through my nose again.

I would definitely recommend a Quattro FX and will buy another when it wears out. I have slept peacefully through a few colds with it. My advice to everyone would be that you shouldn't be afraid of a full face mask, mine may look like a plastic and cloth spider, but it is actually very comfortable!

Sep 27, 2014
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Congestion? Do not use VIc's
by: Anonymous

Vic's is petroleum based. I use a natural oil called OLBAS. It is essential oils of Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cajeput, Wintergreen, Juniper and Clove.

It has several other uses...look it up.

Sep 28, 2014
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Wasabi or Pseudoephedrine will decongest you.
by: Jellyfishattack

If you have a bad cold, I'd try taking something with pseudoephedrine in it, unless that medication would be contraindicated for you (I'm not an MD, but there are a few conditions that it can aggravate).

Pseudoephedrine works much, much better than the stuff they replaced it with to sell in 'cold medicine' in US & Canadian Pharmacies (it's much easier to buy in Canada though).

I find Aerius Dual Action, with Aerius & pseudoephedrine works great when I have a cold & it prevents me from getting a sinus and ear infection (which I always did get when I caught a cold until my family doctor told me to take an antihistamine and pseudoephedrine when I first got sick).

If you are suffering from less severe, temporary congestion, and don't think it warrants taking any medication, you could try eating wasabi paste on it's own, or on sushi, or you can eat wasabi peas. It works quite quickly for me, although I really like the taste. Eating raw ginger root will also clear you out, but I think that wasabi works much better.

Jan 21, 2016
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Sinus blocking
by: A Colquhoun

Sometimes my sinuses block as soon as I put my Mask (full face) on. Then if I take of the mask and go and sit down somewhere the sinuses clear????

Is there a psychological factor going on here. It is frequent and frustrating

Apr 07, 2016
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Congestion
by: DANIEL

I get severely congested with CPAP if there is no filter on the unit. I buy a filter on line, that goes between the cpap machine and my hose. This has solved my problems. I need to change them every month or so.

May 06, 2016
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Frustrated
by: DianneAnonymous

I have a serious problem with my nose running. I have been using the pillow mask, It has worsened since the air is cold. I have a heated humidifier and hose however the air is still cold going into my nose. In the morning and throughout the day my nose constantly runs. I did start of with a full face mask but I developed a nasty sore on my nose. I would love some suggestions I would be grateful. hu

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