Should I use my CPAP machine with a cold?

woman having a cold

It’s that time of year where everyone around you seems to be coming down with something. Cold and flu season is never any fun to have to come to terms with, especially when you use a CPAP machine. It can be uncomfortable to try and sleep with a stuffed up nose and a headache amongst many of the other symptoms that your cold may present. With a CPAP machine, part of using it means your airways need to remain open and accessible for air to flow though as you sleep in order for the CPAP therapy to work properly. So cold tend to present a challenge for CPAP users.

The big question you may ask is: should you just forget about the CPAP machine when you have a bad cold? As tempting as it may seem, the one thing to keep in mind is that even one night without your CPAP machine can trigger your sleep apnea symptoms even worse than before. And if you thought that you were having trouble breathing in the first place with your cold, it will be even worse mixed with sleep apnea symptoms such as the pauses in breathing that can occur as you sleep. For these reasons, you are best to keep using your CPAP machine when you are sick, no matter how crappy you may feel.

Here are a few tips for CPAP machine users to keep in mind when you are dealing with a cold:

  • A lot of over the counter medicines will help to alleviate many cold symptoms including saline spray. Don’t be afraid to use these in moderation to help you sleep better
  • Do not attempt to drive if you are feeling drowsy
  • Make sure you are keeping your CPAP machine clean on a regular basis, this will help with the overall function of the machine and can also help to prevent a bad cold in the first place
  • Take advantage of heated humidification for your CPAP machine: this will help you to have a more comfortable experience using your CPAP machine, especially when you are sick
  • Try keeping your head propped up: this helps to control any nasal drip and helps to alleviate stuffiness
  • Give yourself time to rest! This is the key to helping overcome any cold. Give yourself a good day or two off work to get the rest you really need to fight this!