CPAP And Sinus Infections

One of the more common complaints from CPAP users is that they are prone to sinus infections. Typically, they deal with it using saline irrigation, decongestants, and sometimes even go to their doctor for antibiotics. As a result, people suspect contamination or infection from their equipment, especially the mask, tubing or even the machine itself. Other suspects include molds, allergies or even sensitivity to their masks.

I had an experience today with a patient that makes me rethink how CPAP may aggravate nasal or sinus infections. This patient was unable to use CPAP after 4-5 days because his nose and sinuses would burn. He interpreted this as an infection. His numbers and other compliance parameters were perfect. While performing nasal endoscopy (placing a thin flexible camera in his nose) he commented that the sensation was identical to the feeling that he experienced when he used CPAP.

That got me thinking about how most cases of sinus headaches and pain have been shown to be a variation of a migraine. This is a neurologic reaction to any sort of irritation or stimulation. If you were to undergo a CAT scan during an episode, you’ll see that in most cases, it’ll be completely normal. Unfortunately, too many people end up being given oral antibiotics.

What can you do about this if you’re susceptible to these problems? Unfortunately, it’s a catch-22. In theory, the best way of handling this is to treat the underlying obstructive sleep apnea, but in this case, the treatment itself can cause nasal inflammation that can worsen sleep apnea. Many people benefit significantly by using CPAP, but there will always be a few people who absolutely can’t tolerate CPAP, no matter how hard they try to use it (different machines, settings, masks, medications, or other gadgets.)

Do you get recurrent sinus “infections” when you use your CPAP?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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156 thoughts on “CPAP And Sinus Infections

  1. That’s exactly what I did…I have a so clean machine…and a new cpap machine…I feel better already…I hope this is the answer and all my infecton will go away. thank you for your comment…you would think the insurance would help to pay for one, instead of paying all the doctor bills because of all the infections you get with a cpap.

  2. I also buy disposable small spherical in line micro filters that help filter out the dust (I live in the southwest). I change the filter about every 2-3 weeks, they are clear so you can see when the filter is getting dirty. It’s very easy to do and fits between the hose and the SoClean adapter on the machine. It will filter spores too if you have allergies. It’s about $30 for 10 filters and I buy them at a CPAP store on line. And of course I wash my foam intake filter on the back of the machine. I’m glad the SoClean is working for you!

  3. Yes, after using cpap for 19 years and being very compliant, I have over the last few years noted many more sinus and allergy issues that are stubborn and loathe to go away. Migraine\sinus headaches are very numerous, and I am unable to use my machine or sleep flat due to profuse mucus and drainage. I believe, no matter how clean I keep my cpap which is new, it is making me sick, and keeping me sick. My guess is, cpap, allergies and sinus are all making each other worse together. I have to quit cpap to stop and shorten my infections. Still a problem with OSA, will probably need a dental apnea oral appliance.

  4. Try a SoClean system. Since I started using one my sinus infections have all but disappeared. I do get dried out from time to time even with using my humidifier. I was about to dump my CPAP until I tried a SoClean. It really does work. It was worth every penny I paid for it. I even got a travel version that I leave in my travel trailer.

  5. I have pressure and mild dizziness in my head that behaves exactly like a sinus infection: head and face pain that moves around, constant tinnitus, unsteadiness etc. but very little drainage. This has been going on for over 6 months nonstop and hit with 4 ABs that have accomplished nothing and an MRI that has suggested nothing to treat. I believe the APAP machine has been aggravating the problem by forcing air into my nose. I only had mild apnea anyway. I am switching to breath right strips and nasal sprays and sleeping with temazepam and other aids to see if I can make a dent in it.

  6. I just read this entire website and I was sure it was me that wrote every single comment. I thought I must have had a camera on me. I have never had sinus problems in my life. I have had my CPAP for 4 years. Starting December 2017 I got what I though was the flu or cold. It is now May, 2018 and I have had three doses of antibiotics. They work well for about 5 days and then all my symptoms return. Headache, sore cheeks, sore dry eyes, clogged head. I went to an ENT and they put a camera down my throat. Nothing deadly was found thank goodness. I just have REALLY REALLY DRY nose and air passage. I clean my CPAP periodically but not going to lie. I don’t sanitize it. After reading all the comments, I am going to take a break from the CPAP and see what transpires.