Should I Use CPAP If I Have a Cold?

The New Year can be an exciting time for many, filled with new beginnings and resolutions for the year to come. However, the winter months are the peak of cold and flu season. Those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may feel they are faced with the decision of pausing their CPAP therapy due cold and flu symptoms such as congestion and a runny nose.

Although these symptoms can make using CPAP equipment a bit difficult, it is best to continue the use even when you have a cold or the flu. Skipping your CPAP therapy can rob you of the health benefits you need to strengthen your immune system and fight your cold.

We have provided you with some tips for successfully using a CPAP during flu season to help you continue use should you get a cold or the flu.

Tip #1: Prevent a cold before it starts

You can count on sailing through this cold and flu season with ease if you never get sick in the first place! One of the best ways to stay healthy is to practice basic hygiene techniques – wash your hands often with soapy, warm water. Plus, do not forget about using hand sanitizer, especially after touching high-traffic areas such as doorknobs, gas pumps, and shopping carts. It would not hurt to regularly wipe down your phone, either, which is likely one of the most touched objects you have.

Tip #2: Consistently clean your CPAP equipment

While it is always important to clean your CPAP equipment on a regular basis, it is even more critical to do so during cold and flu season. Make sure you are cleaning correctly by following the recommended care below.

Daily Care Recommended:

  1. Humidifier: Remove the humidifier and empty the remaining water. Rinse with warm water and let it air dry.
  2. Mask: Disassemble your CPAP mask and clean it with mild soap and warm water and let it air dry.

Weekly Care Recommended:

  1. Mask: Inspect your cushions for any holes and tearing.
  2. CPAP Machine: Wipe the outside of the CPAP machine with a moist paper towel and let it air dry.
  3. Tubing: Rinse the tubing with warm water and hang it up to air dry. Inspect the tubing for any holes or tears.
  4. Headgear: Wash your headgear using a mild detergent and warm water, either by hand or in the washing machine. NEVER place in the dryer, let it air dry.

You can never clean your CPAP equipment too much. To be extra careful, try increasing your weekly cleaning routine to daily or three to four times a week. Also, be sure to keep your air filters changed at least every two weeks.

Tip #3: Use CPAP equipment with heated technology

To help break down mucus buildup and congestion that often comes with a cold or the flu, try using CPAP machines that utilize HumidAir™️ technology. The humidifier water chamber that comes with our ResMed AirSense™ and AirCurve™ CPAP machines can help you breathe easy through this cold and flu season. You could also opt for machines that come with the ClimateLineAir™ heated tubing option. You can personalize your CPAP humidification and temperature settings for comfortable and moderate levels of airflow.

Tip #4: Use a full-face mask system

Having a cold or the flu usually comes with having a stuffy nose, which may cause you to breathe through your mouth more frequently. If your therapy includes the use of a nasal pillow or nasal cushion CPAP mask, you may be missing out on some of the full benefits of your CPAP therapy at night.

A full-face mask system will allow you to breathe through both your nose and your mouth. This will allow you to receive the benefits of CPAP therapy, even when you are severely congested.

While you may be accustomed to the nasal mask or pillow, it is good to invest in a full-face mask for back-up during cold and flu season. The ResMed AirFit™ F20 is the most popular full face mask system with its universal fit. For women who would like to explore the use of a full-face mask, this mask system comes with optional versions with stylish lavender accents and smaller size ranges.

To sum it up:

While everyone is susceptible to contracting a cold or the flu this season, it is especially dangerous for those who have untreated sleep apnea. A recent study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that patients suffering from sleep apnea who contracted the flu were more likely to become hospitalized if they did not continue their CPAP therapy.

Cold and flu season can be a stressful time for everyone, but especially for CPAP users. So, hopefully these tips will help you until you are feeling better if you get a cold or the flu. Hiro Health is always here to help you stay committed to your sleep therapy.

The information above is for educational use only. If you need specific medical advice about your sleep therapy options, please reach out to your physician, or call us to speak to a Hiro Health Wellness Team member at 866-764-2165 or email us at

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