People across the world remain on high alert for how to prevent contracting COVID-19. It can be scary and nerve wracking, but it is important to not lose sight of your patients’ ongoing medical conditions. Caring for those conditions is key to maintaining optimal health as well. For your patients with sleep apnea, they might worry that they are more susceptible to developing the virus. 

For patients with sleep apnea, it is important that they continue using their oral appliance to manage their condition and help them sleep. To help you conquer this conversation with your patients, here are some questions your patients might have about managing their condition and protecting themselves during the pandemic. 

Does sleep apnea make me more susceptible to COVID-19?

No, there is no evidence to show that sleep apnea on its own puts you at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. However, there are risk factors for severe illness, which include age and underlying medical conditions that are not controlled, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, liver disease and a compromised immune system. 

Will using my CPAP machine or oral appliance for my sleep apnea impact my risk?

Using a CPAP machine or oral appliance to treat sleep apnea will help you get the sleep your body needs. It does not impact your risk at all. If anything, it helps protect you by getting your condition under control. Treating your sleep apnea will help you get an appropriate amount of sleep every night to strengthen your immune system and fight off infection.

If I have a mild cough should I stop using my CPAP or oral appliance?

Please continue to use your CPAP machine or oral appliance as directed if you develop a cough. These devices are there to help you get the sleep you need to boost your immune system and won’t impact your risk or current cough.

If I have COVID-19 and use a CPAP machine, will it spread the disease deeper?

No, there is no evidence that the CPAP machine will cause the virus to dive deeper into the lungs or become worse.

If I have COVID-19 and use a CPAP machine, will I infect others around me?

Researchers have shown that SARS-CoV-2 spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. The only way a CPAP machine can spread the virus is through droplets if there are leaks around the mask or from the inhalation part. If you’re infected, you should self-isolate from others in your home and call your physician. It is also important to regularly wash your machine too and surrounding surfaces because the virus can remain.

What other questions have your patients been asking you during the pandemic? Please share your thoughts, concerns and what your patients are thinking.