If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, your doctor might recommend that you use a CPAP machine. Using a CPAP machine as a form of treatment for sleep issues is a bit unusual compared to taking sleeping pills, so it’s important to know how to use it properly.
What’s a CPAP Machine?
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can help people suffering from sleep apnea to breathe more easily while sleeping by increasing the air pressure in the throat and preventing the airway from collapsing when they inhale. The machine can also help with snoring.
If you use the machine for a longer period of time, it reduces blood pressure, daytime sleepiness, and heart problems in people with heart disease.
The Most Common Problems with CPAP Machines
Common problems with CPAP machines include sore throat, dry nose, nasal congestion, and abdominal bloating.
Here’s how you can deal with these problems.
1. Dry Nose and Nasal Congestion
If your mask is leaky, it can cause a dry nose. Check to see if the CPAP mask fits well and tighten the straps if necessary to prevent air leak. You can also use a CPAP heated humidifier attached to the air pressure machine or a saline nasal spray before going to bed.
2. Dry Mouth
In people who sleep with their mouth open, a CPAP machine can worsen the dryness. In that case, consider using a chin strap to keep your mouth closed and reduce the air leakage. Another option is to use a full-face-mask-style device that covers your nose and mouth or a heated humidifier that can be attached to the CPAP machine.
3. Leaky Mask
If your mask is not properly fitted, you won’t get the amount of air pressure you need. A leaky mask can also cause skin irritation or blow air into your eyes, thus making them teary or dry.
Try adjusting the straps and pads to fit the mask better. If this doesn’t give the desired results, consider getting a different size mask or a different style device like a nasal pillow. In case you develop sores or skin deterioration, make sure to see your doctor right away.
4. Difficulty Getting Used to Wear the CPAP Mask
Try wearing the CPAP mask when you are awake for short periods of time. At first, wear only the mask, then the mask and the hose with the machine turned off. After you get used to the feeling, you can start using the CPAP machine during short naps, and finally, put it on every time you go to sleep.
Wearing the mask while you’re awake, in combination with relaxation exercises, can also help you overcome feelings of claustrophobia. However, if this doesn’t help and you still feel claustrophobic, consult with your doctor. It might be helpful to use a different style mask, like the one with nasal pillows.
5. Trouble Falling Asleep
Wearing the mask around the house while you’re awake will also allow you to determine whether the mask fits properly. In addition, you’ll get used to the straps and find it easier to fall asleep at night.
When it comes to falling asleep, following certain positive sleeping habits can also be helpful. Avoid consuming fatty foods, alcohol, or caffeine before going to bed. Do some light stretches and exercises and try to relax by meditating. Don’t go to sleep until you feel tired.
6. Annoying Noise
The new models of CPAP machines are almost completely silent. However, if the machine’s noise is annoying, check to see if the air filter is clean and there is no blockage. Your doctor can also give your advice on how to clean the mask and hose properly.
If you’ve done all this but the noise doesn’t go away, ask your CPAP supplier or your doctor to check the machine and see if it is functioning properly. If the machine is working properly and the noise still annoys you, you can wear earplugs or use a white noise machine to mask the noise. It can also be helpful if you position the machine farther away from the bed.
7. Accidentally Removing the CPAP Mask While Sleeping
Sometimes you will wake up and realize that you have accidentally removed the mask while sleeping. This often happens if your nose is stuffed, causing you to pull off the mask. In that case, make sure that the mask fits properly and consider using a heated CPAP humidifier. A chin strap can also help keep the mask on your face.
If this problem is consistent, make it a habit to set an alarm that will wake you up to check if the mask is still on.
8. Trouble Tolerating Forced Air
If you find it hard to tolerate forced air, consider using a machine with a comfortable setting called ‘ramp’. This feature allows the device to start with lower air pressure and then gradually increase the pressure to the prescribed range.
If this doesn’t help, consult with your doctor. A device that automatically and constantly adjusts the pressure such as BPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) might be helpful.
Getting used to wearing a CPAP machine can be quite frustrating, but it is important to be persistent. This treatment is crucial for avoiding health issues caused by sleep apnea, like heart disease, stroke, or depression. With patience and time, CPAP treatment can improve your health and quality of life.