CPAP and COVID-19
As we learn more about the novel coronavirus that has impacted every community, we are becoming more hopeful about potential treatments that will lessen symptoms as well as entering into the testing phase for vaccines. However, COVID-19 remains a very serious and potentially deadly virus, especially for people who have compromised immune systems, people who smoke, and people who have other breathing complications like COPD and asthma. Many people end up requiring respiratory support – help breathing through a respirator. For those sleep apnea patients using a CPAP machine, you may be tempted to self-medicate using your machine’s oxygen.
CPAP Machines Are Not Ventilators
If you believe you have COVID-19 and you are struggling to breathe, you should call your hospital or community response team immediately. Do not try using your CPAP machine to deliver additional oxygen. Not only is the machine ill-suited to provide the oxygen and respiration needed during respiratory distress caused by coronavirus, but the use of your CPAP machine may actually increase the likelihood that others in your home will be given the virus.
Am I More Likely to Get COVID-19 Because I Have Sleep Apnea?
There is no connection between sleep apnea and getting the novel coronavirus. The only high-risk populations are people over the age of 70 and people with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and COPD. Immunocompromised populations also face a higher risk.
If I Get Coronavirus, Should I Keep Using My CPAP?
If you believe you have coronavirus, you should speak to your physician. There is an increased risk of transmission of the virus from people who use CPAP machines. You should, at the very least, be isolated in a separate room. The CDC recommends frequently cleaning and disinfecting touched surfaces, your CPAP included.
If you need an alternative treatment for sleep apnea, a dental device may help. Start by making an appointment to see an expert ENT who can provide diagnosis and treatment options. At Lakeside Allergy ENT, we can perform an overnight sleep study to diagnose your condition and help you with oral appliance therapy or other treatments.