For many Australians, the arrival of spring means the start of allergy season. If you have sleep apnea and are treating it with CPAP therapy, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the chances of allergy symptoms that can impact your therapy, and therefore your overall health.

Although most people that suffer during allergy season suffer from hay fever and pollen during autumn and spring, it can depend on the person and where they live. In addition, allergies can be caused by a variety of indoor and outdoor pollutants.

Common outdoor pollutants include pollen, dirt, newly mown grass, molds, smoke and smog in cities, car exhaust, outdoor smoking, and other industrial air pollutants, chemicals and fumes.

There are many indoor pollutants that can cause allergies ranging from dust, carpets and floors to pet dander and mold. Other causes can be household cleaners and sprays, fireplaces, perfumes and cigarette or cigar smoke.

In order to combat both indoor and outdoor causes, a good spring cleaning will set the stage for lowering allergens like dust and pet dander. These allergens can hide in and under wood furniture and fixtures like bookshelves and window ledges. They also accumulate in air conditioning vents, behind couches and under chairs. Be sure to wear a dusk mask, use mild soaps, and possibly incorporate a quality air purification system into your bedroom to constantly remove these allergens.

Pollen counts tend to be high in humid climates and particularly in the morning so it can help to stay indoors during this time of day. Try to avoid being outside during windy days and keep doors and windows closed at night.

When it comes to tips for relieving symptoms such as sneezing and stuffed sinuses that can interfere with CPAP therapy, many people utilise a menthol rub or a daily sinus rinse with saline to flush and irrigate the sinus cavities. Sometimes nasal stuffiness due to rhinitis, sinusitis, or allergies can be relieved by prescription nasal sprays or medications. Although they can make it easier to breathe for many CPAP therapy patients, its best to first consult your doctor to make sure that it won’t exacerbate other health conditions such as blood pressure.

Nasal_irrigation

To create the proper sleeping environment, shower and wash your hair before bedtime to remove any pollen or other allergens that may have accumulated on your body during the day. Be sure to change pillowcases every other day and keep sheets washed regularly. You can enclose your mattress in an allergy barrier to keep the dust mite accumulation low as well.

For CPAP therapy patients, their CPAP equipment can be the source of accumulating allergens so it’s important to keep them clean on a very regular basis. Pollen and dust particles tend to accumulate in the CPAP mask, tubing and humidifier. This can lead to upper airway congestion and even infection that can severely hamper the full effects of CPAP therapy and further compromise your health.

Soap and water with a few drops of vinegar is an ideal cleaning solution for cleaning your mask and tubes. In order to clean the tubing, you can do it in the tub where you have more room, and then hang it over the shower rail until it’s thoroughly dry.

Many CPAP machines have filters that need to be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. Some machines have both reusable (foam) filters and fine (disposable) filters. Keeping these filters clean and new is a major deterrent to dust and other contaminates getting into your lungs or nose.

Humidifiers go a long way to reducing and eliminating symptoms of nasal congestion, dry nose and throat, but it’s important to clean your CPAP humidifier and replace the water every day. Be sure to use only distilled water to keep minerals from building up that can lead to problems.

steam from a humidifier

Last but certainly not least, it’s important to observe general good health practices such as getting daily exercise, not smoking and eating a balanced diet that (if required) is supplemented with vitamins including plenty of Vitamin C. By preparing yourself, your CPAP equipment and your environment against allergens, you can maximize the effectiveness of your CPAP therapy. The goal is always to sleep well at night, and to stay active and alert during the day so that you can enjoy life to its fullest in health.