In general, sleep experts think of the usage of sleep equipment as a very effective method for alleviating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Otherwise, those patients are exposed to a higher risk of developing many serious chronic health issues.
However, while some patients adjust to using sleep equipment from the first time, others experience specific side effects and discomfort of which the most common are sinus infection (sinusitis) and nasal congestion according to sleep equipment users.
What is Sinusitis?
The sinuses are hollow spaces in the skull and the facial bones around your nose. In other words, they are located above the eyes on the forehead and each side of your nose near the cheekbones.
The inflammation of the sinuses, i.e. of the lining tissue, that may cause blockages and get them filled with fluid is known as sinusitis. When sinuses get blocked, mucus builds up. And, as a result of this obstruction, an infection may develop.
To be more precise, about 15% of adults in the United States suffer from sinusitis meaning that over 30 million people get diagnosed with this inflammation every year.
The Connection between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Sinus Problems
To be able to determine the connection between these two health issues, we have to first define what obstructive sleep apnea is. Namely, OSA is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting the US population. It is characterized by breathing interruptions during sleep caused by obstructed or blocked airways.
Hence, since sinusitis blocks the nasal passages, breathing through the nose becomes difficult. So, we may conclude that both of these conditions result in breathing difficulties. But, the truth is that there is no strong evidence that using sleep equipment to treat OSA, or OSA itself, causes sinusitis.
Indeed, the only thing they have in common for sure is that both obstructive sleep apnea and sinusitis impact the patient’s quality of sleep.
Preventing Sinus Infections
Luckily, sinus infections are only a temporary issue you may face. Still, some people are more likely to get sinus infections due to allergies or other reasons. So, if you fit in this group, ensure you do your best to prevent infections. To do so you should stay hydrated, use a humidifier in your bedroom, sleep with your head elevated, and open nasal passages by using steam.
On the other hand, if you don’t think you’re prone to sinus infections, but experience sinus issues as a result of using sleep equipment, there are several things related to maintenance and cleaning you could do to prevent sinus infections.
First and foremost, you must inspect and replace the filters inside your equipment frequently, especially if you notice they are damaged or wet. In general, you have to change the disposable filters every month and clean the interior fixed filters thoroughly on a regular schedule.
Second, to avoid sinus infections you should clean your mask tubing, the cushion, and the mask itself, on a daily basis, i.e. right after you’ve finished using it. Just make sure you clean all parts using warm water and not-too-strong detergent. Then, rinse them well and let them air-dry before the next use.
Finally, if you’re using sleep equipment with a humidifier attached, ensure you dispose of the water leftover and clean the humidifier once you finish using it. The reason why this is so important is that warm and moist environments increase the chances of breeding molds and bacteria which could be the reason for your sinus issues.