Continuous airway pressure or CPAP therapy is both a popular and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea; however, there can be problems that come with this device despite it only being a mask or nose piece, tubing, and a machine that supplies a steady stream of air pressure. Possible issues could include difficulty falling asleep, a mask that leaks, or a dry nose or mouth.
Fortunately there is a wide range of CPAP devices available and masks are often adjustable to give you the most ideal fit. Below are seven common issues and their respective solutions:
Getting Used to Wearing a CPAP Device
Many may find the transition to using a CPAP device overwhelming and awkward. Begin by getting used to the mask by wearing it for brief intervals, and when you’re ready, try wearing it with the pressure on. Gradually wearing it more consistently is the key to making a more comfortable transition.
Dealing with the Noise
Since most of the newer CPAP devices are nearly silent, you may want to check the device’s air filter to see if that is the source of the sound. Having your doctor or the product supplier examine the device for any possible issues should be your next step. If the sound is a natural part of the machine, consider ear plugs or a white-noise machine to block out the sound.
Not Enjoying the Size or Style of Your Mask
You will want to carefully collaborate with your doctor or product supplier to ensure that your mask perfectly fits your own face shape and needs. Some may prefer a full-faced mask with many straps if they move a lot in their sleep. Others might prefer the comfort of nasal pillows below the nose and less straps. Also, keep in mind that many masks will differ when it comes to sizes. You want to find the optimal style, size, and adjustments to make your CPAP experience the best it can be.
Trouble Falling Asleep
This issue is common during the adjustment period. It tends to be a temporary problem that goes away faster if you wear the mask in the daytime to grow more accustomed to it. Practicing consistent sleep habits, avoiding caffeine, and starting with a lower air pressure and gradually reaching your prescription pressure all help as well.
5. Waking with a Dry Mouth
Those that breathe with their mouth open may find that CPAP devices make them wake with drier mouths. A chin strap for a nasal mask or a full-face mask can work great. You can also modify your CPAP device with a humidifier attachment.
6. Leaking Mask
A mask that leaks likely isn’t fitted correctly; this can lead to skin irritation and/or dry eyes depending on the air leak. You may need to alter your strap and pad placement to make the mask fit. If nothing seems to work, you may need to acquire a new mask size or style altogether.
7. Dry and/or Stuffy Nose
A CPAP device with a heated humidifier attachment can do much to remedy dryness of the nose. If this solution does not work well, you may need to resort to a nasal spray. Keep in mind that a leaking mask can also cause your nose to get dry.