Getting Used to CPAP Therapy: Solving Some of the Most Common Problems
CPAP machine is undoubtedly one of the best obstructive sleep apnea treatment options available today. But often patients find it uncomfortable to use, and take time to adjust to sleeping with a mask on. Even with the several positive changes that a CPAP therapy does bring, every 1 in 5 patients quit using a CPAP machine within 5 years.
But this could be easily avoided if you know some tips to quickly get used to CPAP therapy. Here’s a look at some of the common complaints by patients using a CPAP device, and how to fix them:
How do I get used to wearing a CPAP Mask?
Several patients find it hard to fall asleep wearing a CPAP mask, especially if they are not used to wearing it. To make sleeping with it easier, it is advised to wear your mask before bedtime, to get used to it. Here are some tips to try out:
- Hold the CPAP mask in front of your face sans the headgear and tubing. Breathe normally for a minute
- Then connect the mask to your CPAP machine, turn the air on and hold it in front of your face for 1–2 minutes (still with no headgear). Focus on breathing normally. If the air pressure is uncomfortable, remove the mask from your face and try again after a few minutes
- Now put your headgear on, sit and practice breathing through the mask and air pressure for 2 minutes at a time
- Then try building up to wearing your mask for longer periods of time. Reading or watching TV with your mask, headgear and air pressure on, can have you get used to it. Start with aiming to have it on for 30 minutes at a time
Once you are comfortable wearing your mask before bed, the next step is to try and use it for sleeping.
- Try sleeping with your CPAP mask on, during a daytime nap
- Even if you do not wear your device for the entire nap duration initially, it is okay. Wear it for only 30-60 minutes in your first attempt. And then gradually keep increasing your usage time. You can also use the ResMed myAir™ app to keep track of your progress
The less you wear the mask, the harder it will be to get used to wearing it. So ensure that you use the device for several weeks or more to see if the mask and pressure settings you were prescribed still work for you.
How am I supposed to breathe with CPAP?
If you have tried on a CPAP mask but find it really uncomfortable, probably because it doesn’t fit properly, you can always work with your doctor to find the best fit.
- Read manufacturer product instructions to ensure you are wearing the mask right
- Ask your doctor, sleep technologist, or CPAP supplier to show you how to adjust your mask to get the best fit
- Check out different CPAP mask styles available, their pros and cons, and choose the one that best suits your needs
Alternatively, if your nose is running or gets stuffy when wearing a CPAP mask, check if your device comes with a heated humidifier.
- If not, consider getting one that allows you to adjust the level of humidification
- Using a nasal saline spray at bedtime can also prevent your nose from drying too much
- Also, make sure that your mask is a good fit for you; a leaky mask can dry out your nose
How do I know if my CPAP pressure is too high?
Initially, you may find it difficult to get used to the forced air from a CPAP device. So consider switching to the ‘ramp’ feature, as this allows you to start with low air pressure to make you tolerant to the technique.
This is then followed by an automatic, gradual increase that eventually sets itself to the pressure prescribed by your doctor. If you are still in doubt, consult your doctor, and he can adjust the rate of this "ramp" feature to best benefit your condition.
Am I allergic to my CPAP mask?
Is your CPAP mask causing you an allergic reaction? Here are the steps you should follow:
- Stop wearing your mask and immediately contact your physician. Usually an allergic reaction to a CPAP mask will occur the same night you wear it
- Check if your allergy is caused due to infrequent cleaning of the mask. 9 out of 10 times, an allergic reaction to a CPAP mask (such as a bruise on the face or a skin infection) is caused if you do not clean your mask frequently
- Check whether your mask is of an older version made with latex. Most CPAP masks available in the market today are made from silicone, or gel material.
- waking up with a jerk often gasping for breath, chest pain
Why is the CPAP machine so loud?
If you find that your CPAP machine is making a lot of noise, it is most probably due to a jammed filter. Check that the filter is clean, and nothing is blocking the path of air in it.
If that doesn’t help, have your doctor, sleep technologist, or CPAP supplier check the device to ensure it's working properly. If it is, and the noise still bothers you, try using earplugs. Or best, choose from one of the new models of ResMed CPAP devices which are almost silent.
For your own healthy sleep regime, it is advisable to use CPAP for sleep apnea patients regularly. It’s possible you take time to adjust to it. Try following the above tips, or consult your doctor if that doesn’t solve your problem. They can determine if your device requires a change in settings, and get you what suits your conditions best.
And even if it sometimes gets frustrating to get used to it, it’s important that you stick with it. Do not stop using it without consulting your doctor, even after decreased severity in symptoms.
Using a CPAP device will give you the best sleep you have had in a long time. And with ResMed, you can take a CPAP Trial for 2-weeks before starting the CPAP therapy, and see for yourself how effective it is.