Do you feel like quitting continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy? Do you feel like it’s not delivering the benefits you expected? Are you experiencing any side effects?
If your answer to these questions is “yes,” you’re not alone. Using a CPAP machine can be an overwhelming experience for many, and it’s easy to get frustrated and give up on it altogether.
Sleep experts advise against quitting CPAP therapy, however, as it has plenty of life-changing benefits. It does take some time to take effect, but with a little patience and some simple tweaks to your CPAP machine, you’ll be sure to enjoy improvements in your sleep, health, and quality of life.
Here are some common problems with CPAP machines, what’s causing them, and how to solve them.
The mask is uncomfortable
There are two common types of CPAP masks: nasal and full-face. Each comes in different sizes and shapes. It may be that you’re not using the right type of CPAP mask, or you’re using one that doesn’t fit you well. Either of these could lead to problems such as skin irritation and bruising.
Solution: When selecting a CPAP mask, consider your face shape. Everyone’s face shape is different, so a mask that fits someone else perfectly may not be right for you. Your doctor or CPAP supplier should be able to recommend the right type and size of mask for your face shape, as well as show you how to adjust the mask so it fits properly.
Alternatively, you could choose a nasal pillow instead of a nasal or a full-face mask. Nasal pillows fit under your nose and have straps that cover less of your face, so they’re less cumbersome. They’re also ideal if you wear glasses, as they don’t cover any part of your eyes.
If you’ve been under CPAP treatment for a while, replacing your mask could solve any discomfort you’ve been experiencing. Over time, wear and tear causes your mask to become misshapen so it no longer fits you right. Getting a new mask — one that’s of the right style and size — should fix this problem.
The mask and hose are leaking
Air leaks in your CPAP machine mask or hose can be caused by a number of things, from improper connection to holes or cracks to normal wear and tear. A leak may compromise your therapy by reducing the pressure delivered to your airway.
Solution: Usually, adjusting your mask does the trick. Getting a smaller, better-fitting mask could also help. Ensuring your mask fits properly creates an air pressure seal so that there are no gaps around your cheeks or mouth through which air could escape.
If your CPAP machine lets out a whistling sound whenever you turn it on, it’s likely that the hose has sprung a leak. The first thing you want to do is check if your hose is properly connected to the machine by gently twisting the end attached to the machine and pushing it in. If that doesn’t stop the whistling, look for any holes or cracks along the length of the hose and tape over these until you can get a new one.
There’s water in the hose
Some CPAP machines have a humidifier that keeps the mouth and nose from drying out. But it causes moisture to form on the inside of the hose. Often, it’s just beads of condensation, but sometimes, rainout happens — water goes up the hose and splatters all over your face, which can be a real nuisance.
Solution: There are various ways to solve this problem, but all of them involve regulating the temperature inside and outside the hose to keep moisture from forming. For instance, you can use heated or climate line tubing, which has a heated coil that keeps the air inside warm. Your healthcare provider or CPAP supplier can help you acquire one that’s compatible with all CPAP machine models.
You can also keep the hose warm by wrapping its entire length with fabric, or running it under your bed covers. Turning down the humidifier’s temperature or increasing the thermostat in your bedroom can also help.
The CPAP machine is noisy
Most new CPAP machine models are almost completely silent, producing only a slight sound due to changes in pressure as you inhale and exhale. A loud thrumming or whining noise is a sure sign that something is wrong with it. The usual culprit is the machine’s air filter. When it gets saturated with dust and dirt, the motor will work harder and make sounds.
Solution: Replace your CPAP machine’s air filter every month or when it gets discolored. This will keep the machine running smoothly at all times. This will not only keep your machine silent, but it will also reduce the risk of overheating. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when changing the filter to avoid damaging the machine.
If you’re hypersensitive to sound and the normal noises your machine makes are keeping you up at night, try using noise-canceling headphones or a white noise machine.
There are side effects to using a CPAP machine
Dry mouth, nasal congestion, eye irritation, headaches, and bloating are just some of the known side effects of using a CPAP machine. Most of them occur in first-time CPAP machine users, and go away after a while once the body gets used to the pressurized air from the machine. This is especially true for headaches and bloating.
Solution: If the side effects are bothering you, a few simple adjustments to the machine’s settings and to your mask could help.
For instance, dry mouth usually occurs in patients who use a nasal mask or a nasal pillow, which causes them to breathe through their mouths. Switching to a full-face mask could take care of this problem, as would using a chin strap to keep your mouth from falling open while you sleep.
A humidifier could relieve nasal congestion, while eye irritation and dryness could be solved by tightening your mask so the air doesn’t blow into your eyes.
The benefits of using a CPAP machine far outweigh the disadvantages, so it’s important to stick with it. Continuous CPAP treatment is key to preventing the myriad complications of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and ensuring your overall health and well-being.
The experts at Revsuppliance can help OSA patients troubleshoot the common problems associated with using a CPAP machine. We can also recommend the best device and accessories to make their CPAP experience more comfortable, convenient, and effective. For inquiries and other concerns, call us at 405-467-1791.