CPAP and summer allergies

When it comes to summer, if one of the first things you think of is allergens like ragweed and blue grass, make sure you’re using humidification with your CPAP machine at night.

We often think of humidification as something most needed during a cold, dry winter. But it’s just as helpful in countering the symptoms of summer allergies, like the dryness caused by congestion and the inflammation of your nasal passages caused by hay fever and other environmental allergies.

How does humidification help my allergies?

Your nose is constantly doing two things:

  • Warming incoming air so it reaches your lungs at body temperature; and
  • Secreting fluid to help clear out allergens and other unwanted particles.

Adding CPAP air without humidification means your nose has to work extra hard to warm all this extra air and produce even more fluid to maintain its moisture on top of clearing out allergens. To make matters worse, sometimes the nose will keep overproducing fluid up to 3 hours after it needs to, simply out of habit – just like your heart rate can stay high for a few minutes after you finish running. This is known as nasal reactive syndrome.

Humidifying your CPAP air takes the burden of warming that air off your nose so it can stay moist without extra effort and produce just enough fluid to combat allergens. This helps lower congestion and inflammation caused by allergens, since your nose is now more efficient at clearing them out.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies but don’t use humidification, ask your equipment supplier or doctor how to use and change it as needed to get all its benefits while avoiding rain-out (an uncomfortable condition in which overly heated air condensates in your mask, making your face damp).

Beware the trifecta: Allergies, a deviated septum and a nasal pillows mask

Pillows masks can be harder to use while you’re suffering from nasal allergies, especially if you have a deviated septum, meaning your two nasal cavities are significantly uneven. When such nasal cavities swell up during an allergic reaction, the smaller cavity can push out its nasal pillow enough to create leak and discomfort. If you have environmental allergies and have experienced a similar issue with your pillows mask, ask your equipment supplier or doctor if a nasal mask or full face mask would help you get better treatment during your allergy season(s). We’ll talk more about deviated septums in next week’s blog: their causes, symptoms, effects on CPAP users and ways to treat them.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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