How to solve these 10 common CPAP problems

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Updated Apr 14, 2017

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Getting prescribed a CPAP, or a continuous positive airway pressure machine, can do wonders for your sleep apnea. You’ll feel better rested and more prepared to take on your day, but first you’ll have to adjust to wearing the machine.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 10 common problems CPAP users encounter:

1. Buying the wrong mask size or style. CPAP machines come in different styles and sizes, so work with your doctor to find out which mask works best for you.

2. Struggling to adjust to wearing the CPAP. When you first start wearing a CPAP at night it may be hard to acclimate to it. To help you adjust, the Mayo Clinic recommends wearing the CPAP for short periods while you are awake until you become more comfortable with it. 

3. Claustrophobia. If you feel suffocated by your mask, try practicing by holding it just in front of your face. When you become comfortable with that, slowly start incorporating more parts and the straps until you’re comfortable with the entire set up.

4. Difficulty adjusting to the air pressure. Some CPAPs have a setting which lets the wearer start out with low air pressure and then gradually increases, making it easier to adjust to. If you’re having problems with the air pressure on your CPAP, talk to you doctor.

5. Dry mouth. People who sleep with their mouths open may experience dry mouth while using a CPAP. A full face mask may be a good option for those folks.

6. A poorly-fitting mask. If the CPAP mask isn’t fitted properly, it can cause skin irritation and prevent the wearer from getting the appropriate air pressure and sleep. Adjust the pads and straps or talk to your supplier about getting a better fitting mask.

7. Nose dryness. Some CPAPs may have an attachable heated humidifier which can help with nose dryness caused by using the CPAP. Using saline nasal spray before going to sleep may also help.

8. Sleeplessness. Adjusting to the machine may not be the only thing causing you to lose sleep. You can help yourself have a smoother transition to the CPAP by trying to relax, exercising regularly, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, says the Mayo Clinic.

9. Removing the CPAP while sleeping. You may be a restless sleeper or pull off the mask because your nose is congested, according to the Mayo Clinic. A CPAP with a humidifier and a chin strap may be able to help. If the problem continues, set alarms for during the night to wake up and check that your CPAP is still on.

10. Noise. Most newer CPAPs are designed to be silent. A dirty or blocked air filter could cause noise. If the noise continues after cleaning the air filter, check with the supplier to see if something may be wrong with the machine. Earplugs or a white noise app may help you cancel out the sounds of the CPAP.