Your CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can literally be a lifesaver. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not also a daily nuisance. For some people, one common source of annoyance with CPAP is nasal congestion. Clogged nostrils can make it hard to use your CPAP machine. 

At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, we want to make sure everyone has access to the best sleep apnea treatment and gets the best possible results and experience with the treatment they use. Here are some tips to help you overcome this challenge 

cpap mask on a blue background

Properly Clean CPAP

Some people experience an increase in nasal infections after starting CPAP. This can be linked to not properly cleaning their equipment. Check the care instructions you received from your Omaha sleep doctor or durable medical equipment (DME) provider. Make sure you’re performing all the steps as recommended. 

Use Humidification

Humidification is a powerful tool for reducing nasal congestion with CPAP. Not only does it help to clean the nostrils, but it also reduces inflammation and irritation that sometimes comes with CPAP use. Inflammation narrows the airways and makes congestion worse, so if you can soothe your nostrils, you won’t just be more comfortable; you’ll have less congestion. 

If you already have a humidifier, don’t forget to turn it up during the winter. Cold Nebraska winters mean the air has less moisture in it. Plus, you’ve got your heat on. Since most of us use central heating that dries the air, this means the air is even drier. So you’ll probably benefit from cranking up the humidifier for the season. 

Use Heat to Improve Humidification Effectiveness

Another challenge of using a CPAP humidifier is that the moisture can condense in the tubing. The combination of cold air and higher humidity settings makes this more likely. This keeps the moisture from reaching your nostrils.

You can increase the amount of moisture that reaches your nostrils by adding heat to the line. If you don’t currently have a heater for your CPAP, consider adding one. If you do have a heater, you might use other strategies to make sure the line stays warm enough. You can pass the CPAP hose under the blankets with you to help it stay warm. You can also get insulation for your tubing to help it stay warm. 

Regardless, if you notice condensation in your CPAP tubing, make sure your humidifier is lower than your head so that liquid water will flow back down to the reservoir and not into your nostrils. 


Antihistamines are commonly used as allergy medications. They can cut down mucus production and inflammation that are part of your body’s immune response to reduce related congestion and other symptoms. These medications can provide significant relief for many people with clogged nasal passages. 

Just make sure you talk to your Omaha sleep doctor before taking any new medications, even over-the-counter (OTC) medications. 

Saline Sprays or Neti Pots

Even if your CPAP humidifier will ultimately cut through nasal congestion, it might have a hard time getting started. Saline sprays and nasal irrigation tools like neti pots can help you clear your nose and sinuses. 

Saline sprays are quick and easy to use, but they might not penetrate deep into your sinuses. Nasal irrigation tools can thoroughly clean your sinuses, but they can be a bit more difficult (and unpleasant) to use. Make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions, including using only distilled water or boiled tap water for the irrigation system to reduce the risk of infection. 

Prescription Steroid Sprays

If home remedies and CPAP equipment aren’t helping, it’s time to see your Omaha doctor about a more effective solution. Steroid sprays can combat inflammation to increase the space in your airway, hopefully letting you breathe until your CPAP humidification can control your congestion. 

Note that this is not the same as rapid-action nasal sprays like Afrin. Although these can be effective over the short term, they aren’t effective enough to help you keep breathing all night. Long-term use of these sprays can even increase congestion. 

Try Full Face Mask

If nasal congestion is just too bad for you to use your CPAP with a nasal mask, it might be time to try a full face mask. You might have tried a full face mask during your initial decision to get CPAP. Even if it’s not a good solution for every day, it might work well as a backup or short-term solution when you have nasal congestion. 

Consider a CPAP Alternative

However, sometimes nasal congestion and irritation are too much of an obstacle that keeps you from using your CPAP. If you find CPAP isn’t right for you, it’s important to get a different sleep apnea treatment. Untreated sleep apnea can be dangerous, even deadly. When CPAP isn’t working, talk to your Omaha sleep dentist about CPAP alternatives

Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment in Omaha

If you are looking for an effective sleep apnea treatment in Omaha, let the sleep dentists at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center help. 

Please call (402) 493-4175 or use our online form today to request an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center, located at North Port in North Omaha.