After a long winter, the return of spring offers a welcome respite. But there’s more to the season of renewal than flowers blooming. Spring presents distinct challenges to those with sleep apnea. Consider the following tips to ensure that your CPAP delivers optimal results as we head into summer.
Springtime. After a long winter, it offers a welcome change. It’s the season of renewal and preparation for summer – a time for spring cleaning and spring gardening.
Of course, there is a downside to the season. For those who suffer from bad seasonal allergies, spring is the season for scratchy throats, itchy eyes, runny noses, sinus pressure, sneezing and headaches that often accompany tree and grass pollens, mold spores and other seasonal triggers. Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever as it is commonly known, typically occurs in the spring, summer and fall. It results from the body’s overzealous reaction to such allergens, and the subsequent creation of chemicals like histamine that can cause symptoms like those of the common cold.
If you know this from personal experience, you have plenty of company. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “National Health Interview Survey, 2017,” nearly 20 million American adults were diagnosed with hay fever the preceding year. And like those of a cold, the symptoms that result can have a direct and significant impact on sleep – both as a result of discomfort, and in the case of nasal congestion, the inability to breathe through one’s nose.
For those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, the ramifications of spring allergies can be even more pronounced, and if not addressed, can dramatically impact the effectiveness of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate spring’s impact on your health and your CPAP machine. If you suffer from severe seasonal allergies, consider the following tips.
Consult Your Physician if Your Allergies are Affecting CPAP Treatment
- Your doctor may recommend that you see an allergist to identify the specific cause of your reactions. Be sure to remind your doctor of your CPAP therapy. Many pharmaceuticals are available that lesson the discomfort associated with allergies, but side effects – including insomnia – should be considered.
Close Your Windows to Avoid Pollen
- A sunny spring day with a gentle breeze begs for open windows, especially if you live somewhere where a good airing out is welcome after a long winter. Fight the urge. On a heavy-pollen day, it doesn’t take long for allergens to contaminate a home.
Change the Filters in Your Heating and Air Conditioning Systems
- Depending on where you live, spring can be a mixed bag, with warm days and cold nights. Regardless, make sure you have clean filters in place for your air conditioning and forced hot air heating systems. When combined with seasonal pollen, molds and other allergens can create even more discomfort. Find out which filters are most effective for your systems and replace them frequently.
Consider a Different or Replacement CPAP Mask
- If you use a nasal pillow-style or nasal CPAP mask, but suffer from nasal congestion or sinus pain as a result of spring allergies, consult your doctor and consider using a full face mask until your symptoms subside. Having a spare on hand can also be helpful at other times of the year, when colds and fall allergies make breathing through one’s nose difficult.
Minimize Your Bedroom’s Exposure to Allergens
- Time spent outside, playing with pets, or even driving in the car will expose you to pollen and other allergens, many of which will remain in hair and on clothing. To minimize your bedroom’s exposure, shower before going to sleep, change bedding frequently, keep pets out and, if possible, remove clothing worn outside before entering. All of these steps can contribute to a good night’s sleep.
Change the Filter in Your CPAP Machine
- The filter on your CPAP machine is its initial line of defense against allergens and should be replaced when dirty or every six months. If you are unsure of how to remove the existing filter, or where to buy the correct replacement, contact the manufacturer of your CPAP machine or your provider of CPAP supplies. (Similarly, make sure to change the Cartridge Filter and Check Valve Assembly on your SoClean at least every six months to ensure that it is also operating at optimal performance.)
Last, but Not Least, Keep Your CPAP Machine Clean
- The germs and bacteria that thrive in the moist environment of a CPAP machine are proven to cause illnesses, including sinus and respiratory infections. The added presence of spring allergens only increases the risks involved and makes it even more important to keep your CPAP clean. If you are doing so manually, make sure to clean your equipment as recommended by your CPAP manufacturer.
Of course, a far easier, more effective method is to simply place your mask in the SoClean and close the lid – allowing it to circulate activated oxygen that kills up to 99.9 percent of all germs and bacteria that can build up in your CPAP equipment.
Following these simple tips can help ensure that you have a great night’s sleep, enjoy all spring has to offer and are healthy and well-rested when summer arrives. For more information on how SoClean can make your life easier as a CPAP user, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (800) 341-7014. We’d love to hear from you.