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Allergies with a CPAP

October 2, 2023


If you suffer from sleep apnea, a CPAP machine can truly be a lifesaver for you. It keeps your airway open throughout the night, ensuring a constant oxygen supply to your lungs, and works wonders for sleep quality. Using a CPAP machine can feel like a double-edged sword if you are one of the millions who struggle with allergies. So, how do you consistently use your CPAP while experiencing allergies and avoid exasperated symptoms because of the machine? 

Understanding the Challenge

Using a CPAP machine while experiencing congestion can be challenging for a few reasons. For some with obstructive sleep apnea, congestion can cause a secondary type of airway blockage during sleep. During the day, your sinus’s gravity helps your sinuses to drain so you can breathe easier. When you lay down at night, often, this mucus gets stuck in your throat and can cause more instances of apnea during sleep. 

The second worry for CPAP users is that their machine will make their congestion worse. Various airborne irritants, including dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores, can trigger congestion. These allergens can accumulate in your bedroom and, by extension, in your CPAP equipment. When you breathe through the machine, you may inhale these allergens, leading to further congestion, sneezing, or other uncomfortable symptoms. 

These are not reasons to stop using your CPAP, but they may take some diligence to avoid. Here are some ways to mitigate these issues:

Using Saline or Medication to Avoid Allergies

If you experience allergies and use a CPAP machine, you may want to try to treat your congestion first so CPAP usage is effective and comfortable. Using a saline wash before bed, you can clear your sinuses of buildup from the day, making breathing easier while wearing a CPAP. You could also use it in the morning to breathe more comfortably during the day. 

You may also consider using medication that targets the symptoms of allergies, like congestion and difficulty breathing. Before starting any of these medications, talk to your doctor to see how it fits into your treatment plan. 

Sleeping in a Clean Environment 

The best way to avoid worsening your allergy symptoms is to keep them out of your bedroom. Consistent and deep cleaning of your room that targets allergens is paramount. Dusting and vacuuming is the first step. To ensure that allergens are caught in the vacuum, ensure it is equipped with a HEPA filter. If this cleaning becomes too much upkeep, consider buying an air filter to do some of the work for you. 

Your bed can also trap these allergens and cause congestion. Change your bedding and pillowcases frequently, and shower right before bed to prevent dust or dirt buildup. Further, your pets can carry some of the most irritating allergens, so you may want to keep them out of your room during seasons when your allergies flare up. 

Clean Your CPAP Machine Well

The next type of cleaning you should ramp up is the cleaning of your CPAP machine. Regularly cleaning and maintaining your machine, mask, and tubing can significantly reduce the likelihood of allergen buildup. 

First, wash your CPAP mask, headgear, and any other components that come into contact with your face regularly. Use mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water to avoid irritating your skin. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry. Next, replace filters and other machine components that should be replaced periodically. You can find guidance for this in the manufacturer’s instructions. Last, if your CPAP machine requires water for humidification, use distilled water to prevent mold and bacteria growth in the water chamber.

There are also CPAP products designed for allergies. One of these products is hypoallergenic or allergen-reducing filters in your CPAP machine. These filters can capture smaller particles, including allergens, more effectively. You may also want to try using mask liners made from soft, hypoallergenic materials, which can provide a comfortable barrier between your skin and the mask, reducing skin irritation and allergen contact.

Allergies don’t have to be a barrier to using a CPAP machine effectively. Don’t let congestion get in the way of your health and well-being – take control of your sleep and for good. If you are looking for new CPAP supplies, visit www.advancedhomecareonline.com/replacement-supply-request-form to talk to a sleep apnea professional to discuss what would work best for you. 

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