Everyone is talking about the infectious outbreak that turned into a pandemic and is currently sweeping the globe. COVID-19 is now putting stress on the entire healthcare industry by sending thousands to the hospital with respiratory complications. As you already know, the new Coronavirus is especially dangerous for older people and those with pre-existing conditions, like patients with sleep apnea.
Are those with Sleep Apnea More at Risk for Coronavirus?
Scientists and doctors are still trying to understand how this new virus operates and who it affects the most. What we do know is that there are two significant factors related to OSA, which are linked to a higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. Chronic health conditions and age are these factors. Also, a possible third risk factor is sleep aspiration, which is related to people using a CPAP machine.
Underlying Health Conditions
It is a fact that Coronavirus has caused a higher mortality rate for patients who had underlying health conditions. These are chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, lung ailments, and respiratory diseases. They include COPD and sleep apnea. The fatality rate for patients with other health problems varies from 6 to 10.5%, compared to 0.9% for healthy patients.
The thing is, sleep apnea is often linked to other conditions like heart disease and diabetes. And this means that these patients are more likely to be in the higher risk category.
What doctors have concluded by now, is that older patients seem to be more susceptible to pneumonia, which can be deadly. This might be due to an age-related weakening of the immune system and increased inflammatory response.
Sleep apnea is more frequent among patients over the age of 65. So, patients with sleep apnea are likely to be older, and because of that they are at a higher risk of experiencing complications from the Coronavirus.
The Coronavirus operates by infecting the cells below the voice box and gets deep into the lungs. This can happen through inhaled air and from the aspiration of fluid from the nose and saliva, which drains from the mouth down a person’s throat.
Aspiration is normal and it happens more often while you are sleeping. That is why people using CPAP devices need to maintain proper hygiene and safety measures. It will help them to ensure that the pressurized air does not facilitate the pathway for contagions.
Now, do not get scared because of all this, you can absolutely keep using your CPAP machine, just remember that getting a full night’s rest is crucial to staying healthy.
What You Need to Do
Get plenty of sleep because sleep is crucial to keeping the immune system strong and fighting off illness.
Maintain CPAP compliance because sleep apnea distorts sleep, effective management of symptoms through CPAP therapy is more critical now than ever before.
Practice good hygiene to prevent pathogens from entering the body through the nose, mouth or eyes. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the CPAP device, mask or tubing.
Position the CPAP Machine far from others where they might cough, sneeze, or breathe on it.
Sanitize the CPAP device daily, including the tubing, masks, and humidifier water chamber.
Replace the filter according to the instructions provided by the filter manufacturer.
Pay extra attention to symptoms since you as sleep apnea patient or CPAP user may be at higher risk for developing complications from COVID-19. If you notice that you have a fever, dry cough, or trouble breathing, contact your primary care physician immediately.
Most importantly, take this infectious outbreak very seriously. Follow the precautions outlined by healthcare providers and medical experts for your and everyone else’s safety.