CPAP machines are a proven, effective way to treat obstructive sleep apnea, yet are not always revered by users. Some users complain that they are cumbersome, difficult to get used to and simply uncomfortable. Fortunately, we address the 7 common CPAP problems and offer useful tips and solutions.
Problem 1: The wrong size or style of CPAP mask
Solution: Work with your physician for recommendations on the CPAP mask that’ll best fit your needs. There are several styles available, including nasal masks, nasal pillows and full face masks. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the one that’s most comfortable. Don’t be discouraged, the right one is out there.
Problem 2: Getting used to wearing a CPAP device
Everyone must go through a period of adjustment when they first start using their CPAP device. Ease into it by wearing the device for short periods such as when watching TV. Then wear the mask with the hose with the pressure turned on for a while. Once you get used to how it feels, shift to wearing it all night.
Problem 3: Trouble tolerating forced air
Many CPAP machines come with a “ramp” feature that gradually increases the air pressure rather than forcing it out all at once. If that doesn’t work for you, consider trying a bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) device. These have a low and high pressure setting that provide more pressure when you inhale and less when you exhale.
Problem 4: Dry nose and sore throat
Solution: Receiving air pressure all night can lead to uncomfortable symptoms. The simple, effective solution is a device that features a heated humidifier.
Problem 5: Mask leaks and skin irritations
Solution: It’s important that your mask fits securely to ensure you’re getting the full air pressure you need. If adjusting your mask doesn’t solve the problem, try some of the many other styles and sizes available. To help prevent skin irritation, try products such as RemZzzs CPAP Mask Liners or Gecko Nasal Pad – CPAP Mask Comfort Pad to provide an extra layer of cushioning between your skin and mask. If these tips don’t work, ask your physician to switch to a different device such as a nasal pillow.
Problem 6: Loud device
Solution: If a loud device keeps you up at night, chances are you have an older unit. Modern models are whisper quiet or the equivalent to white noise. Consider upgrading to a newer machine.
Problem 7: Claustrophobic full face mask
Solution: There are three categories of CPAP masks: full face, nasal pillow and nasal mask. If you can’t tolerate a full face mask, a nasal pillow (covers the nostrils) and nasal mask (covers the nose) cover less of the face and make great alternatives.