Using your CPAP machine when you have a cold

So, you have caught the common cold, and you are miserable.  It happens to all of us, but what are those of us who use PAP devices to do.  Should we switch to a full face mask for this?  Perhaps we should stop using the machine all together?  How aggressive should you be in making sure that your nose if cleared out so you can use your device?  Can my humidifier help?  Lets take some time and look at these common questions.

4014611539_388bacbd90_oShould I switch to a full face mask?

If you do not already have one this is not even an option for a lot of folks.  The full face mask does cover both the nose and the mouth, but if you were not specifically prescribed one you probably do not own one.  If you have a prescription for a CPAP mask you could typically buy one for cash.  The Fisher & Paykel Simplus mask is an easy full face mask for most people to fit.  It is relatively inexpensive and you can know which size to order by printing off the sizing guide, cutting it out and figuring out if you are a small, medium, or large.  You should not expect your therapy to be therapeutic when you do this, as switching from a nasal to a full face mask typically requires more pressure.  This can be an effective way to bridge the gap while you have a cold and find yourself unable to breathing through your nose.  If you have an auto titrating cpap like the new Respironics DSX500TS and it is set in auto mode, it may use more pressure than you are used to to correct your problem.  At the end of the day, talking to your doctor about the switch is the best idea, and he or she can help you understand the consequences of your decision.

This is the end of part one.  In the next article we will look at some more questions about what to do when you have a cold and feel like you can’t use cpap.  Until then, sleep well.