topic posted Fri, September 15, 2006 - 7:45 PM by  Shelly
I know that being fairly new to this group I have probably not seen the past posts on this. Thought that I would bring it up again for me and others now that winter and cold season is coming. I was wondering what type of things people are doing to fight congestion. Anytime I am a little bit congested I feel like I am suffocating when I get the CPAP mask on. Any advice people can give would be greatly appreciated.
posted by:
  • mc
    offline 61
    Hey Shelly...
    Some things I do - they may not all apply:

    - Fairly recently, I started keeping some Ocean nasal spray around. They help when dryness and congestion are combined. Ocean is just sterile saline in a bottle that sprays a fine mist.
    - If you read on another thread I have linked below, cooler air/temps in the room can sometimes make me have the "camping effect" - I dunno why but whey I am cold, I get stuffy. So, maybe warming the room up a bit might help.
    - If you do not already use one, a humidifier could help. For me, when it is too dry it can also make me feel a bit stopped up (though not like real congestion). I used to use one but now I just put without one.
    - I am a mouth breather so using a full face mask helped. I am thinking, speculating, that having a full face mask might encourage mouth breathing when you are stuffed up a bit.

    Something else that has helped a bit lately...I spray a bit of that natural citrus spray in the room (not directly near the Cpap/BiPap as it is oil based) a few minutes before putting on my getup. The subtle scent comes through through my mask and when I smell it, it makes me feel like I am breathing better. I guess what I am suggesting is that perhaps with congesting, there is both a physical and possible a bit of a psychological aspect as well. Maybe sensing you are breathing (because of the scent) might help calm the feeling a suffocating just a bit. I dunno...just a theory.

    Good luck, Shelly.
    • MC had some great suggestions. I also use Ocean nasal spray when needed. Another "trick" is to wear a "Breathe-Right" strip on your nose under your mask. It will help open up your nasal passages for a little easier breathing. I only use my CPAP with a humidification unit. Thankfullly, that's the only way my doctor even prescribes them.

      One word of CPAP machine came with a warning that stated if you had head congestion (due to colds or extreme allergies, etc.) NOT to use your CPAP until the congestion had cleared. Because of the constant pressurized air being forced into the nasal passages, there is an increased risk of causing complications from a cold because the virus/bacteria are pushed farther into your nasal passages. Sinus infections, ear infections, even ruptured eardrums can be the result. Be careful. I don't think a little congestion would be a huge problem. As long as I can breathe freely through my nose (even if a little congested) I've continued to use my CPAP without a problem. Thankfully I haven't had a major cold (yet) because I'm frankly afraid of sleeping WITHOUT my CPAP; which I consider my lifelline.

      Best wishes,
      • Whoa, Leah! I am kinda glad (and not glad) that I didn't read your post before I got a really bad head cold. I mean, it was one of the worst head colds (as opposed to the ones that take up residence in your chest) in quite a while. I used my BiPAP, and I believe it actually helped me. I have a full face mask, since I wasn't really sure whether I was a mouth or nose breather when I slept (if I had a choice!), and found that I did breathe through my mouth when I couldn't breathe through my nose (if that makes any sense), but regularly, I find with the BiPAP and an uncongested head, I breathe most naturally through my nose.

        A kind of off-topic question here, I hope you all won't mind: I have noticed that when I first started using my machine, I always used the "ramp up" feature. Now, after about a year, I just turn the machine on, wait until the air is a-blowin' and just strap the sucker on. I NEVER thought I would be able to just "go into it" but I do it now all the time. Anyone else have a similar experience? It's not a problem, just something that has surprised me.


        Oh, and Shelly, you might try some lavendar spray, too. That is said to have a calming effect. Eucalyptus anyone? That is somethign that never fails to open me up. As a matter of fact, if you have any Chinese populations near you, in your version of Chinatown, you might be able to find something called "White Flower Oil" which is a mix of eucalyptus, menthol, wintergreen, camphor and some other stuff. It will open your head RIGHT up, or help if you have a headache - it's almost a panacea as far as I am concerned. However, BE CERTAIN NOT to get it on any mucous membrane - it will cause problems (burning, stinging). It's great stuff, just keep it away from your eyes and nose. I swear by the stuff.

        • Darla,

          My mask is a nasal mask only, hence the warning...I should have mentioned that...sorry. I'm not a mouth breather unless I'm SO congested I can't get any air any other way...LOL!

          I must get ahold of some of that Chinese potion! It sounds fantastic and something that should definitely be in my med chest. I do love pure lavendar oil and find it very soothing. To have a eucalyptus/mentho/camphor, etc. that's kick a$$ and definitely worth scouting for.

          To answer your question about "ramp up"...I've only had my machine since June 16 and I found that within the first couple weeks that I had to change my ramp up setting from 20 mintues down to 5 minutes. I currently still have the setting at 5 minutes but frankly I wouldn't have a problem if it just went on at full speed. I'm so used to my machine and am so "connected" to it (no pun intended) that I rely on it and instinctively know that while I'm using it I won't have any OSA symptoms.

          I've never been so grateful to a piece of "durable medical equipment" in my life!! My CPAP has given me my life back! YEAH!

          • Oh, Leah,

            I am SO GLAD that your CPAP has made such a difference for you. I know that my machine has made a huge difference for me as well. I don't like even to nap without it.

            Listen, if you have trouble getting any White Flower Oil, let me know and I'll send you some to see if you like it. It just occurred to me that they might carry it through or if you want to check. I love the stuff. Also good for muscle aches, etc.

            Too bad we didn't have this conversation a year ago - I could have brought you some! We were in Sedona last January with some friends. It was so cool. LOVED it - not so much all the "vortices" but rather just the spirit of the land - really spoke to both my husband and me.

            No worries about the face mask vs. the nasal only - I came through it fine.

            Oh, and Shelly, I did experience congestion when I first started using the machine. Now, I'm fine unless there's something else going on (such as our California Pepper tree that I'd like to bomb - August about kills us!).

            Have a great week, everyone!

  • RMM
    offline 0
    Congestion is my constant companion. Before CPAP, one year ago, I avoided nasal sprays since I read they promote dependence and cause "rebound congestion". In the last year I have fallen into using them most every night before I mask up. If I have rebound comgestion, it is not obvious to me. I like mixing saltwater spray with the nasal spray. It feels less harsh and cuts down on the amount of drug I am using.
    • mc
      offline 61
      R Moriarty...
      I have not had experience using decongestants but that idea of mixing to reduce dosage sounds great. I use a full face mask so I can use my mouth to breathe if my nose is clogged. However, when I do have bad colds, I have used Ocean saline spray (just sterile saline and nothing else in there). It does temporarily help - so your approach makes sense to me. I might try it so the effects last longer. I do wake up more often with congestion.

      • R. Moriarty,

        Do you have a humidifier with your unit? That might make a difference. I have always been very anti-humidifiers, but I was prescribed one with my unit and it's been great, despite getting over initial congestion.

        Also, there is something called White Flower Oil, available at many Asian markets, and it's a mentholated oil that is good for MANY things (sore muscles, headaches, clogged nose) and I will put it under my nose on my upper lip (avoiding mucous membrane - it makes for a memorable experience and you'll only do it once!), and sometimes over my temples and sinuses. It's really helpful and soothing and might help get past your use of nasal sprays. The best one I ever used was called Vi-Chloro-Mint Mist, but the place I used to buy it stopped carrying it, and the online store that has it is kind of weird. So it's White Flower for me - oh, and it's CHEAP!

        Good luck.

        • Darla,

          I found the White Flower Oil online through but there's more than one and I don't know which one to get??? Any clues? And yes, it's inexpensive!
          • Hey Leah!

            How are the grandkids and how are you doing with your CPAP?

            Let me check out Amazon (THE BEST!) and I'll post the link to the right one. Thanks for letting me know!


              Any of the White Flower Oils are okay - this one is $1.99 and will be a very small bottle, but until you decide whether you like it, this is what I'd recommend.

              Good luck and let me know what you think!

              • Thanks for the head's up on the White Flower Oil. The next order I place with Amazon I'll add it in. I might even check the local health food store that's only 1/2 mile from my house and see if they have any!

                The grandkids are fabulous. Desiree just had her 4th birthday! Her baby brother, Jaydon is a complete cuddle-bug and he's now 4 months old and our son's son, Caleb, is 5 months old! They are my "little luvs" and keep a smile on my face.

                My CPAP is my lifeline and I couldn't be more pleased. I don't even feel my mask when I sleep. That's how adjusted to it I am. And, earlier this month I did my very first camping trip with my CPAP! I had purchased a battery back-up system for it so I could continue my camping events with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) which is a Medieval re-enactment group. The battery system worked famously and I had the use of my CPAP while "going back in time".

                I owe my best friend, Adriana, and my very precious friends Lucy and Ryan, my continued and heartfelt thanks for cluing me in to my sleep apnea! Without their intervention I may never have gotten the help I needed! I owe them my life!
        • RMM
          offline 0
          I use a heated humidifier, except in July and August. I have always wondered if I don't also have a deviated septum. But when I brought it up to my CPAP therapist (Kaiser) they would not even disucss it. Either it "ain't my spcialty" or "too expensive" flashed in her eyes. I'm going to stick with CPAP and avoid surgery. In a year I have eliminated 99% of snoring, night sweats, morning headaches, frequent urination and acid reflux I still wake at night and am-dog tired. I could lose 30 pounds. I don't smoke or drink. I still try new things and don't believe I have CPAP all adjusted yet. I don't believe any medical treatment can repair us 100%, specially as we get older.

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