Skip to main content

Sleep & Oxygen Blog

How to Use CPAP With a Stuffy Nose

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - CPAP therapy tips
How to Use CPAP With a Stuffy Nose

How to Use CPAP With a Stuffy Nose - 3 Solutions

Do you wish there was a CPAP setting for a stuffy nose? Nasal congestion from a cold or allergies makes it difficult to breathe out of your nose while asleep and symptoms may be worse for people who have sleep apnea. A blocked nose may also result in mouth breathing, which can lead to less effective CPAP therapy for those who wear a nasal or pillow mask.

Using a chin strap, positional device or CPAP pillow may provide some temporary relief but when it comes to congestion, using your CPAP machine at night with a stuffy nose can be unbearable. Fortunately there is a solution. Here are 3 simple tips for using CPAP with a stuffy nose.

Solution 1: Add Humidification to Your CPAP or Adjust Your Settings

For many CPAP users, the discomfort from a stuffy nose may affect how often or how many hours per night they use their machine - making the therapy less effective. Adding humidity or adjusting the setting on your CPAP machine adds heated moisture to the dry, high pressure air being pushed through your throat, making the therapy experience more enjoyable. Heated humidification has been proven to improve the overall comfort of CPAP patients so even with a stuffy nose, you are able to benefit from your treatment.

Solution 2: Use a Heated Hose

Similar to adding humidification to your water, using a heated hose may also help to alleviate some of the discomfort many CPAP users experience with a stuffy nose.

Stuffiness may occur because your nose is unable to warm the air coming through the hose fast enough on its own. Warmer air from a heated CPAP hose does the job for you by providing humidity and helps reduce nasal irritation or additional stuffiness. This is especially important for those who require high pressure settings or live in colder and drier climates.  A heated hose also generally helps reduce waking up with a dry mouth which can be an uncomfortable side effect for CPAP users. 

Solution 3: Consider using a full face mask

When dealing with a cold or stuffy nose, it’s typical for most people to breathe more frequently through their mouth. For added comfort when dealing with nasal congestion, you may opt to use a full-face CPAP mask that allows you to breathe more comfortably through your mouth. Your CPAP therapist will be able to fit you with the correct mask type and size for optimal comfort. 

If you are still having trouble, try these additional tips:

  1. Saline spray or rinse - inexpensive and effective relief that can be used often
  2. Cold and flu medications - suppress cough, thins mucus and  improve sleep
  3. Nasal decongestants - relief from chronic congestion related to allergies


As always, consult your physician before taking any medication. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today to book an in-person or virtual appointment with one of our registered clinicians. If you need supplies, you can fill out this short order form and one of our team members will call you back to confirm your order.

If you have not yet been diagnosed with sleep apnea and suspect you may have it, book a sleep apnea test at a nearby VitalAire sleep clinic.

Sources:

https://cornermedical.com/the-health-dangers-of-dirty-cpap-equipment/
https://www.verywellhealth.com/should-i-use-cpap-with-a-cold-3015022
https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/cpap-therapy/what-you-should-know-about...
https://www.terrycralle.com/the-dangers-of-using-a-dirty-cpap/
https://www.resmed.com/en-us/sleep-apnea/sleep-blog/manual-mode-know-you...
Alex Horowitz, Sandra Horowitz MD FRCP(C), and Chinhak Chun MD, CPAP Masks are Sources of Microbial Contamination, SleepHealth Centers, Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, APSS Poster 2009
https://www.thecpapshop.com/blog/cpap-humidification-and-heated-tubing/ 

Tags: CPAP therapy tips Sleep apnea Snoring