Sinus congestion can be a nuisance, especially if you have sleep apnea and use a nasal mask. In this article, I’ll address what to do when you have a stuffy nose and also use a nasal mask. I’ll also talk about allergies, proper mask care and what it could mean if you have constant sinus congestion.
First of all, there are many types of allergies, but in this article, I’m going to focus on the causes of sinus congestion, and how to effectively deal with it. As well as address proper skin and PAP mask care.
To begin with, let’s take a look at what causes nasal congestion and why it could be more than an annoyance.
An Inflammatory Response
When your body thinks it’s under attack, your immune system kicks in and several things happen. Among them is the release of histamine, which causes a build-up of fluid, (inflammation) around the injury in an attempt to ‘flush out’ the harmful substance.
So, an initial inflammatory response is good. But when this leads to sinus congestion, it can mean the difference between wearing your nasal mask, or go without. And you know how even one night without that feels.
That’s where antihistamines and decongestants come in. Antihistamines reduce congestion by slowing the production of histamine. Which stops production of mucous. On the other hand, decongestants dry up your sinuses after mucous is already produced.
Furthermore, chronic inflammation can not only lead to disease but cause you to age more quickly. Interestingly, mental stress makes inflammation worse. More on this in my upcoming article.
And in my previous article on stress,http://sleepguyblog.com/how-reducing-stress-improves-womens-health/we looked at how stress also releases cortisol, which has several negative effects, besides causing inflammation.
Now let’s have a look at some ways to deal with sinus congestion.
If sinus congestion is temporary, it’s probably nothing more than an inconvenience, and here are some ways to treat this. We’ll look at conventional medicine first; then see what alternative treatments are available.
Briefly, steroid nasal sprays, such as Flonase and Nasacort, reduce swelling in your nasal passages. Antihistamines, like Benadryl or Claritin, block histamine, and histamine is what produces congestion. Decongestants, such as Sudafed, also reduce congestion by decreasing the fluid that’s already there.
As with any medicine, these all have some rather undesirable side effects. For example, Sudafed is known to have caused heart attacks.
So then, let’s take a look at some treatment’s that might be safer, and quite effective.
There are a few treatment options here. Below I list some of the more common ones.
First up, the Neti Pot. Perhaps you’ve heard of this guy, or maybe even tried it, or use it. It’s basically a little pot that you fill with pharmaceutical grade saline. This is then poured into one sinus and drains out the other. The Neti pot is quite effective in relieving congestion.
Aroma Therapy is also proving to be quite effective in fighting inflammation and boosting your immune system.
Try the following:
Peppermint Oil–Helps reduce inflammation and opens your airway.
Tea Tree Oil–This is for topical use only; and is, therefore, good for skin allergies. Do not take internally!
Frankincense Oil–Relieves emotional stress. And because emotional stress increases inflammation, relieving stress will reduce inflammation.
Lemon oil–is actually a good detoxifier, besides improving digestion and promoting weight loss.
Also, while drinking hot liquids might seem to relieve congestion, it’s mostly a placebo effect. Although drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated is a good idea.
Then there are issues with mask irritation. Let’s look at that.
Allergies and CPAP Masks
There are some basic things you can do to keep your PAP mask clean, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money.
First of all, just make sure you clean your mask and tube daily. Simply wash them in warm soapy water using non-fragrant soap. Then rinse with warm water and air dry. There are also machines that you can buy for cleaning your PAP equipment.
Your mask can also cause skin irritation if it’s not cleaned well, doesn’t fit right, or is made of a material that causes an allergic reaction. Beyond that, keeping your skin clean is important as well. Therefore it’s a good idea to wash your face with soap and water to remove dirt and oils before putting your mask on.
So while inflammation is your bodies way of flushing out toxins, it can be quite frustrating when sinus congestion interferes with your sleep.
Also, if it becomes chronic, it not only can cause disease, it can also make you look older than you really are. It also worsens sleep apnea, which can cause other diseases as well. However, there are some good treatment options available; as well as some things you can do to maintain your health.
Next time we’ll take a closer look at the dangers of inflammation as it relates to your sleep, and more importantly, your health.