As a CPAP machine user, you must be prepared to troubleshoot any issues that may potentially happen during therapy. While, for the most part, Sleep Apnea patients experience little to no CPAP side effects that does not mean they can’t happen. Being prepared is the key to successful PAP therapy.
While we’ve talked about the most common CPAP problems that users can have in a previous post, in this article we’re going to look specifically at the CPAP side effect, aerophagia. Below, we’ll explain what it is, the symptoms it causes and how to resolve it.
Aerophagia is a phenomenon caused by the excessive swallowing of air and a side effect that Sleep Apnea patients may experience.
When too much air has been swallowed, the air enters your stomach and intestines instead of entering the lungs, causing discomfort in the abdomen area. Generally, those who experience aerophagia during CPAP therapy note feeling some or all of the following symptoms:
It is important to remember that anyone can get aerophagia, not just those who are using a PAP machine. Other lifestyle choices and activities such as smoking cigarettes, strenuous exercise and hyperventilation can cause it also.
While there is no definitive answer to this question, many sleep specialists believe that a number of different situations could lead to the onset of aerophagia.
For example, if your CPAP pressure level is set incorrectly it could be causing this side effect. If the pressure level is too high, the extra air will travel down your esophagus and to your stomach. On the other hand, if your pressure is too low the act of trying to obtain more air (gulping) can cause it too.
Additionally, if you suffer from nasal congestion or allergies, you may experience aerophagia too. This is because once the nasal passage is blocked with mucus, it prevents you from getting the correct amount of CPAP pressure that you require causing extra to move to your stomach.
Swallowing too much air is quite common for those individuals using a nasal CPAP mask and who breathe primarily through their mouths. As the CPAP machine delivers air to the nasal mask and as your mouth falls open during sleep, that air may escape through your mouth rather than entering your lungs. As you gasp to take a breath, your body’s natural reaction is to gulp air in rapidly forcing it into your esophagus.
If you’re experiencing aerophagia symptoms, it is important to act quickly so that you can improve your Sleep Apnea treatment. While it is always advised to speak with your sleep specialist if you are having trouble with CPAP side effects, there are some steps you can take to troubleshoot aerophagia.
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