CPAP and the Common Cold

Today I wanted to talk about having a common cold and using a CPAP. If you are like me and have dealt with issues of feeling claustrophobic while getting used to CPAP, having a cold and using CPAP can resurrect those feelings.

I’ll give you the spoiler alert now - I am actually grateful for CPAP when I’m congested.

Colds used to keep me up at night

Before CPAP, if I had a cold with a runny nose, I would be up most of the night. It was usually a terrible night’s sleep. I would constantly be sitting up in bed, blowing my nose, and sucking on some sort of decongestant lozenges. Dealing with a cold and not being able to sleep is like a double whammy for me.

My first cold with CPAP was miserable

The first time I caught a cold while using CPAP was a nightmare. I remember laying down that night, and when I put my CPAP on, I immediately felt like I was suffocating. My nose was full of mucus, and the airflow of the CPAP was not getting through. I really felt like I couldn’t breathe.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I tried everything that night. Every time I felt a little relief from a decongestant, I would try and use the CPAP again. It felt like my nose would fill up with mucus almost instantly. I am not one who likes giving up, but I did. I slept without the CPAP, and it was a miserable night.

Using my CPAP when I have a cold

I’ve been a CPAP user for over 20 years. The method I have adapted over the years to deal with cold and congestion, I don‘t remember how I actually started it. However, this is the method that works for me. I hope that you can use it or adapt it for your benefit.

I start with a hot beverage

When I get a cold now and my nose is stuffed up, I start the evening by drinking something hot like a cup of tea or broth.

I take an OTC decongestant

After that, I will take an over-the-counter decongestant. There are a lot out on the market. You should find the one that works best for you. The decongestant usually kicks in for me within 15 to 20 minutes. My nose never clears up 100 percent, but it opens up enough for me where I feel comfortable putting on my CPAP.

I put on my CPAP and take a lozenge

Once I get the CPAP on, I pop a decongestant lozenge. I tend to use one that has some sort of vapor action. Once the air is pushing through my nose, I begin to get the feeling of a stuffy nose again. I'll keep my head propped up on 2 or 3 pillows while my "process" takes place.

Letting my CPAP and decongestant do their job

Once I get my nose clear, I'll sleep on one pillow like I normally do. I do my best to relax and let the CPAP and decongestant do their jobs. After a few minutes, I’ll start to feel a postnasal drip through the roof of my mouth.

After about 10 minutes, my nose is completely clear for the rest of the night.

I hope you can find a routine that helps deal with colds and stuffy noses while using a CPAP.

What do you do when you have a cold? Share your tips in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.