Common CPAP Problems: What You Need To Do About Them

December 20, 2019

Common CPAP Problems: What You Need To Do About Them

Having Problems With Your CPAP Equipment?


If you are reading this article then we are guessing that your journey with CPAP equipment hasn’t been the smoothest so far. Getting used to using CPAP masks and machines takes time. And it is normal to experience some CPAP problems along the way, especially at the very beginning. 

Perhaps the fit of your mask is too tight and it’s giving you a headache. Or maybe you’re having some leakage problems and aren’t getting full of the benefit from your CPAP therapy. While some marks on your face or small problems may cause you to give up, we promise you that there is a solution to your problems. Below, we’ll talk about the common side effects you may experience with CPAP equipment and how to solve them. 

 

Common CPAP Side Effects & Problems 

If you are struggling with CPAP problems, you are not alone. Many sleep apnea patients need an adjustment period to get used to the treatment. Just think about it...Up until now, you’ve spent your whole life sleeping without the assistance of a CPAP machine. So, it won’t be something that you just get used to overnight. 

Understanding the side effects and problems that you may experience during CPAP therapy is very helpful in knowing whether it’s a bump along the road or if there is something wrong with your CPAP equipment. 

 

Dry Eyes


Some sleep apnea patients may experience symptoms of dry eyes when using their equipment. Dry eyes are a sign that your tears aren’t providing enough lubrication for your eyes. When this happens it is common for your eyes to feel itchy and irritated while also becoming blurry and sensitive to light. 

If you’ve never had this problem before, it may be possible that your CPAP mask is experiencing a leak. As CPAP masks are worn very close to the eyes, if there is a leakage, it is possible for this air leak to dry out your eyes. Especially if you have a high-pressure setting.


A Solution For Dry Eyes

The first step is to take is to fix any mask leaks. Make sure that the mask is flush against your face. This can be accomplished by using a nasal cushion to help form a better seal. Cleaning your mask can also help to ensure that no air escapes from the mask during use. 

 

Swallowing Air

Aerophagia, also known as the excessive swallowing of air, is something that any OSA patient can potentially experience. 

A gas-related condition, aerophagia generally happens when too much air is entering your gastrointestinal tract irritating your stomach and intestines. As the air builds up, it is normal to experience a number of the following symptoms: 

 

  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Stomachache
  • Bloating 

There are a number of CPAP problems that may lead to this condition such as airway pressure being too high or too low. Having nasal congestion or breathing primarily through the mouth can also change your breathing pattern causing more air to travel to your stomach. 

 

A Solution For Aerophagia 

Make sure that your CPAP pressure settings are not too high as this can often cause extra air to flow into the stomach. Alternatively, try adjusting your sleeping position especially if you tend to sleep on your back. 

Nasal Dryness

Another CPAP side effect to be aware of when using a mask is nasal dryness. Discomfort in the nasal area is normal while wearing a mask. 

As CPAP therapy involves the flow of air pressure through the nasal passageways, it can often be hard for the nasal airway to maintain both its warmth humidity. The nasal airway is vascular which makes it easier for it to become more dried out with cold air. 

Sometimes when sleeping with a CPAP machine, it is possible for air to be unintentionally directed from the mouth to the nasal passageway without it reaching the lungs first. This airflow is cold and therefore, has a higher chance of drying out the nasal airway. When this happens, inflammation can occur causing nose bleeds, dry mouth, cracked lips and dry nose. 

 

A Solution For Nasal Dryness

Make sure that your CPAP mask fits properly and isn’t too loose. When a mask doesn’t fit properly it causes leakages to occur which causes dryness around the nose. Using a CPAP heated humidifier can also be beneficial as it provides the right amount of humidity to the air. This will keep both your nose and mouth moisturized.

 

Mask Discomfort

If you didn’t experience some mask discomfort when you started CPAP therapy, then count yourself among the lucky ones. 

Wearing a CPAP mask will always take some time getting used to. You need to not only learn how to sleep while wearing one but you also need to ensure that it is the right fit for you. There are many OSA patients out there who have had trouble with mask discomfort. 

The most common complaints that we have heard from CPAP mask users include: 

  • “My mask is too tight”
  • “ I wake up with red marks on my face” 
  • “I get skin breakouts and soreness from the strap marks”
  • “Wearing my CPAP mask gives me headaches” 

Whatever the form of discomfort you may be having the great news about this side effect is that it can be easily fixed. Mask discomfort is unpleasant but shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. 

 

A Solution For Mask Discomfort

Mask issues are normal. If you are having them, there is an easy solution that you can try. The worst case scenario is that you will need to replace some of your equipment. Mask discomfort from straps being too tight can easily be adjusted. Strap covers can also be used to cushion the strap against your face.

 

Noisy Machine 

For some OSA patients, the first thing they need to get used to with their new CPAP machine is the light whirring noise that it makes. This is completely normal. Having a new noise in your sleep environment will always take time to adjust to.

But if your CPAP machine is so noisy that it is disrupting your and other people’s sleep then it can become a problem. Oftentimes, the noise isn’t only coming from your machine but also your CPAP mask. If you suspect that your mask may be a contributor, there are simple steps you can take to fix it. 

 

A Solution For Noisy Machines

To quieten a noisy machine, sometimes all you need to do is reposition it to either another surface or further away. Simple. Also, check your mask for a seal leak as this can contribute to noise too. It’s always a good rule of thumb to replace your mask every 6 months to avoid leaks happening.

 

Adjusting To CPAP Equipment Takes Time But It’s Worth It 

CPAP therapy won’t always be a straightforward journey for everyone but it is worth it. If you are experiencing some of the common CPAP problems we spoke about above, make sure that you try out these solutions. 

If you are unable to troubleshoot the problems on your own, make sure to bring your equipment to a local CPAP vendor to get professional help with troubleshooting the issue you are having. 

Getting used to sleep apnea treatment can be frustrating but when the therapy is successful it will improve your sleep quality enormously. There is a reason why CPAP therapy is the gold standard for obstructive sleep apnea treatment after all. 





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