Unfortunately, some people using Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) will get the flu. Nasal congestion makes using the equipment challenging but you should try to continue using Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy even when you have a cold or the flu. Here's why you should continue using your PAP therapy ( CPAP, BIPAP, APAP) when you have the flu.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE THE FLU
First of all, if you have the flu, seek additional medical care immediately. For best results, you need to take the antiviral medication within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. If you were vaccinated, there is still a chance of getting the flu but experts say getting a flu vaccine could make your symptoms milder. You still need to try to use your CPAP machine.
Increasing humidification may increase your ability to tolerate therapy. Adjusting the humidification or turning on the heat feature might make CPAP more comfortable. You might also find inserting nasal saline gel into the tips of each nostril helps decrease nasal irritation. If the pressure feels too high or too low, talk with your sleep specialist about temporarily changing your CPAP pressure.
Try using a full face mask. This will remove some of the pressure blowing directly onto your nostrils.
If you just can't sleep, talk with your doctor about short term use of a sleeping pill.
HOW THE FLU AFFECTS YOUR SLEEP
One important but often over looked aspect of healing is getting adequate amounts of sleep. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep in general. Illness will increase your need for sleep. Don't be alarmed if you need 10 or more hours of sleep. Some people have extreme fatigue. Rest your body and allow yourself time to recover. If you are prone to getting blood clots, you need to move your legs frequently. Talk with your doctor about ways to prevent the formation of blood clots while you rest for extended periods of time.
WHY YOU SHOULD CONTINUE USING YOUR CPAP MACHINE
If you catch the flu and you have a CPAP machine, you should still use your CPAP machine because CPAP will keep your airway open, improve oxygenation and help you cycle through the normal pattern of sleep. Sleep affects the NFkB transcription factor, Relish, which is needed for fighting infection. According to researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, "when you are ill, you should sleep as much as you can."
CLEANING YOUR MACHINE WHEN YOU HAVE THE FLU
Cleaning your CPAP machine properly when you have an upper airway infection such as the flu is very important. Use regular liquid dish detergent to clean the mask daily. The tubing should be cleaned several times during the week. The humidifier also needs attention. I like cleaning the humidifier with a vinegar water solution. The remove the vinegar smell fill the humidifier with lemon water. If you just do not feel up to making your own cleaning solutions, you can clean your equipment with ready-made cleaning solutions available from a medical supply company. Dry your tubing by hanging the tubing over the shower curtain rod. Wipe the outside of the machine with a disinfectant solution that kills most organism. This will be clearly marked on the container.
Using your CPAP machine if you have the flu might help you sleep better and recover sooner than if you slept without PAP therapy.