One of the most common questions sleep apnea patients have had for their doctors since the beginning of the pandemic has been whether they should keep using their CPAP machines after a diagnosis. The short answer is yes. As with prescription medication, a prescribed device like a CPAP should not be discontinued without your doctor’s blessing. The additional breathing support might even help alleviate some breathing issues associated with symptoms under the right circumstances.
5 Things To Remember With Sleep Apnea & Covid-19
Difficulty breathing because of chest constriction is one of the main features of COVID-19, so pressurized air coming into the lungs is generally going to do more good than harm even if its only real effect is keeping sleep apnea from adding to your breathing difficulties. If you feel otherwise, consult your doctor about your specific situation to see if you have good reason to change your routine, and remember these five facts about sleep apnea and COVID-19 to help you keep your bearings until the end of the pandemic.
- There is no link between sleep apnea and risk of contracting COVID-19 documented in any study
- CPAP machines have been modified for use as ventilators to help deal with the shortage in some areas, but those modifications significantly change their performance
- CPAP machines and ventilators both provide pressurized air, but stock CPAP machines are far less powerful than ventilators, which are used for severe medical cases where the patient needs a lot of breathing assistance
- While you should continue to use your CPAP machine, you should also isolate to a separate bedroom for the duration of your illness if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 to contain the spread of the virus
- You should clean your equipment twice as often whenever you are sick, especially with something highly contagious like COVID-19
There are no studies showing CPAP machines on their own automatically help COVID-19 symptoms. The reason you should keep using your machine is because having sleep apnea symptoms while sick with a virus that makes it harder to breathe will only make both conditions harder to deal with. Continue the routine that already helps your condition, including the use of a full face sleep apnea mask or other options that have worked out so far to make sure you have the best support possible for your breathing while you are asleep until and unless instructed to do otherwise.
Keeping Your Mind at Ease During This Pandemic
The best way to stay healthy during the pandemic is to simply follow the CDC’s guidelines. That means a lot of hand washing, mask wearing, and other lifestyle changes designed to put barriers between yourself and sources of aerosolized contagion. Surface cleaning is especially important, because transmission via touch is still highly likely even if most cases appear to be from aerosolized sources. Finally, remember that the best sleep apnea mask for you is the one that lets you rest more comfortably, and then trust it to do its job if you get sick with something else that affects your breathing.