For patients using CPAP equipment, the end of cold, dry winter weather can provide feelings of great relief. Common winter problems such as nosebleeds become distant memories as the temperature rises and the days grow longer. However, the spring and summer months present their own unique set of challenges for CPAP patients. The greatest of these challenges is undoubtedly that of allergies. One in four people suffer from some degree of seasonal allergies, with many requiring medication and other treatments just to be able to breathe normally. For CPAP patients, the proper equipment and use of that equipment can make all the difference in coping with allergies and your CPAP.
The most common side effect of seasonal allergies (often called Hay Fever) is rhinitis, or nasal congestion and irritation resulting from external pollutants and materials such as pollen. This irritation can often spread to the throat and eyes as well, producing overall feelings of congestion and discomfort. For CPAP patients, who are often already experiencing some degree of respiratory difficulty, particularly at night, allergies can be a huge barrier to effective treatment and good health. Air that is moistened or humidified to some degree is much better for the lungs and respiratory system in general. Without this humidified air, nasal congestion and throat irritation can grow progressively worse, until patients are completely uncomfortable both at night and in their daily routines.
The human body provides its own natural humidification process, specifically through the nose, where inhaled air is humidified and warmed before being delivered to the lungs. This humidification helps control and prevent congestion, itching, and general irritation. However, with allergies, since the nose becomes closed off very quickly, patients tend to breathe more through their mouth, decreasing the humidity level of the air they inhale. This vicious cycle can progressively erode a patient’s comfort and health. For CPAP patients, who are already in precarious positions regarding health and comfort, the difficulties posed by allergies can be especially difficult.
One of the great advances in CPAP therapy in recent years has been the advent of heated humidification of CPAP machines. By progressively moistening and heating the air which we intake directly, nasal congestion and other symptoms of allergies can be not only avoided, but even dramatically lessened. By heating and humidifying the air, newer CPAP machines can come very close to mimicking the natural equilibrium of humidity and temperature which our body naturally seeks and produces. If you have an older machine without a heated humidifier, it would be advisable to talk to your medical supplies provider about upgrading your CPAP or BiPAP machine. Most insurances, including Medicare, will cover replacement CPAP machines 5 years or more beyond the original date of issue, as long as they have the correct paperwork and a clear medical reason that the patient desires a new CPAP machine. Equally as important as receiving an updated CPAP machine with the heated humidification option is proper calibration and use of this feature. Most machines have an adjustable humidity level that can be tailored to a patient’s specific environment and needs. By optimizing this setting, nasal congestion due to allergies can be largely eliminated for patients on CPAP therapy.
Beyond the equipment which is utilized by patients, a number of preventative and supplementary measures to deal with allergies can be undertaken. Windows and doors should be closed when possible to eliminate indoor pollen accumulation. Hypoallergenic filters for CPAP machines should be regularly utilized and changed. Air conditioning filters should be changed and checked frequently as well. Various allergy medications and sprays can be prescribed or purchased over the counter to open airways, increasing the efficiency of CPAP therapy.
If you or someone you know is using CPAP therapy, and allergies are making it hard for them to be compliant with their treatment, do not hesitate to call Aeroflow Healthcare today at 888-345-1780. We can assist with providing you with the latest in CPAP machine technology, as well as supplemental products and suggestions to help you make it through allergy season well-rested and healthy.