Researchers have discovered associations with allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) and sleep apnea over the years—in one study, seasonal allergies were prevalent in 35 percent of adults with obstructive sleep apnea. For someone who has OSA, allergies can further impact the quality of your sleep, according to a study. They can cause swelling of the nasal passages and lead to more secretions in the upper respiratory tract.
If you have OSA, you might need to modify your sleep apnea mask during allergy season to accommodate nasal congestion or nasal blockage. You might find that you can treat your sleep apnea condition better by using a full face mask to improve nighttime breathing that's being disrupted by nasal congestion. A full face mask has a cushion opening that fits directly under the nostrils and creates a seal around the mouth.
Using a CPAP machine to treat your OSA when you have allergic rhinitis is important. Some studies have found that when patients are congested, they tend to have poor compliance with CPAP machines. But now is not the time to set your CPAP aside and hope for a good night's sleep. Instead, consider asking your doctor or home care company about swapping out your nasal or pillows mask for a full face mask during allergy season.
Be sure to clean your mask and CPAP machine often—especially if allergy season is causing you to be stuffed up with mucus.