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a woman pulls back her CPAP mask to apply vapor rub under her nose

Stuffy Nose With a CPAP and What I Do About It

Getting used to sleeping with a mask on your face is difficult in itself. But, what about when you are sick or when you have a head cold? What helps with a stuffy nose and CPAP machine with sleep apnea?

Prior to having my continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, I would just breathe through my mouth during those nights. But with my machine, breathing through my mouth is very difficult. This is also not necessarily recommended.

Clear my nose or ditch the CPAP

So, it was either I find a way to clear my nose to allow air through or ditch the CPAP until I feel better. As I have spoken about before, the CPAP has really changed my sleep for the better.

It would be a really difficult decision for me not to use the CPAP on certain nights!! So, I chose the first option of finding a way to make it easier to breathe through my nose.

Discovering vapor rub

The solution that I have found to work the best for me during these situations is vapor rub. I put the menthol rub right under my nostrils. I place the rub closer to the inside of my nose than my lips – but not actually inside my nose – prior to putting my mask on and going to sleep.

Often, I will also put it on my chest to help me sleep. The menthol really does an amazing job of clearing my sinuses and allowing me to breathe through my nostrils again!

Using vapor rub even when I am healthy

Even when I am not sick, I continue to use vapor rub on my nose every night before bed. It has become a calming scent and feel for me to have it in order to go to sleep. I put it on my nose every night before bed, even when I am not feeling stuffy or sick. It has become part of my nightly ritual, and honestly, I think it helps me breathe better.

Living with asthma and sleep apnea

I also have been diagnosed with asthma within the past 10 years, a little before I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. This was another random diagnosis as I have played sports my entire life and never had any issues breathing or anything.

Naturally, when I am sick, my asthma flares up as well. Along with my nightly ritual of putting on my vapor rub, I also have to take a couple puffs of my rescue inhaler.

If I am not feeling sick, I can go weeks without having to take my rescue inhaler because I have a different one I take every morning. However, it is another thing that I have found that I need to keep at my bedside table along with the vapor rub.

What do you do when you are sick?

Does anyone else have any tips for using their CPAP when they feel under the weather? Have you tried using vapor rub for a stuffy nose and CPAP machine? I would love for you to join the community, if you have not already, and join the conversations! We would love to hear your thoughts, questions, concerns, or tips on this subject (and others)!

Interested in reading more about getting the most out of your CPAP? Explore our featured collection of tips and tricks for CPAP users.

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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.

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