Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a widespread cure for obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP device uses a hose and mask or nosepiece to deliver constant and steady air pressure. Common problems with CPAP consists of a leaky mask, trouble falling asleep, stuffy nose and a dry mouth. The good news is that if one CPAP mask or machine doesn’t work for you, you have other options. And most CPAP masks are adjustable, to assist make them more comfortable for you. Here are some common CPAP problems and what you can do about them:
1. The Incorrect Size or Style CPAP Mask
Work closely with your physician and CPAP supplier to make sure you have a CPAP mask that fits correctly. Everyone has different face shapes, so the correct style and size mask for someone else may not work for you.
Try a different mask. Many CPAP masks are available. For instance, some feature full face masks that cover your mouth and nose, with straps that stretch across your forehead and cheeks. These may make some persons feel claustrophobic, but they work well if you opt to breathe through your mouth during sleep. They also offer a stable fit if you move around a lot in your sleep.
Other masks feature nasal pillows that fit under your nose and straps that conceal less of your face. These can feel less burdensome. Nasal pillows may work well if you wear glasses or read with the mask on since some don’t block your eyes as much as full face masks do. Nevertheless, this may not be a choice if you move around a lot in your sleep or sleep on your side.
Pay attention to the size. Most masks come in various sizes. Just since you’re a specific size in one mask doesn’t mean you’ll be the same size in another. CPAP masks are typically adjustable.
Ask your medic or CPAP supplier to show you how to adjust your mask to get the best fit. Manufacturer product instructions also can aid show you how to do this. A correctly fitting mask shouldn’t be uncomfortable or cause pain.
2. Trouble Getting Used to Wearing the CPAP Equipment
First, try wearing just the CPAP mask for short periods while you’re awake — for instance, while watching TV. Then try wearing the mask and tube with the device turned on during the day while you’re awake. Once you get used to how that feels, start utilizing the CPAP machine every time you sleep — including naps. Just wearing the CPAP equipment every now and then may delay getting used to it. Stick with it for numerous weeks or more to see if your mask and pressure are right for you.
3. Difficulty Tolerating Forced Air
You may be able to overcome this by employing a machine with a “ramp” feature. This setting enables you to start with low air pressure. The device then automatically and slowly increases the air pressure to your prescribed setting as you fall asleep. Your physician can adjust its rate. If this feature doesn’t help, talk with your doctor about changing to equipment that automatically and continuously adjusts the pressure while you’re sleeping. An example is a bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) device that delivers more pressure when you breathe in (inhale) and less when you breathe out (exhale).
4. Dry, Stuffy Nose
Check to ensure your mask fits well. A leaking mask can dry out your nose. If you have to tighten straps often to prevent air leakage, the mask does not fit appropriately. A CPAP machine that features a heated humidifier attached to the air pressure machine can help. You can regulate the level of humidification. Utilizing a nasal saline spray at bedtime also can help ease a dry, stuffy nose.
Time and Patience are Crucial to the Success
Using a CPAP device can be frustrating as you try to get used to it, but it’s significant you stick with it. The treatment is crucial to avoiding obstructive sleep apnea complications, like heart problems and excessive daytime sleepiness. Work with your physician and CPAP supplier to ensure the best fit and device for you. Frequent visits to your sleep doctor are significant and can help troubleshoot any problems and adjust settings if required. It can take a while to find the right settings and get used to the mask. With time and patience, CPAP can positively impact your quality of life and health.