Dec 17, 2021 by PrimeClean
Having sleep apnea is a headache (literally and symbolically). CPAP therapy is a solution for it...but usually not a comfortable one. CPAP therapy is a procedure done with a CPAP machine, which includes wearing a CPAP face mask and breathing pressurized air while sleeping. Doesn't sound comfortable? Yeah, because it usually isn't. At least during the adjustment period... Let's see what are the most common CPAP therapy problems and discomforts, and how to deal with them.
When a patient is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea condition, there are not many options (fully successful) on how to handle it. They can either continue to live with it, which is dangerous (in some cases lethal), or they can try to resolve it. The most effective therapy for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy.
The CPAP therapy was popularized 40-50 years ago and since then has been on the rise as the most effective solution for the sleep apnea condition. The therapy is medically prescribed and requires the use of a CPAP machine and equipment which pushes the pressurized air into the patient's airways and thus keeps them open all the time.
Getting Used To Wearing The Face Mask
The most common problem is getting used to wearing a face mask.
There are 3 types of CPAP face masks:
Besides these 3 main face mask types, there are also special CPAP masks: Total face mask, Oral mask, Hybrid mask. You can read more about CPAP face masks in one of our previous articles. See which mask fits you the best.
All of the mentioned face masks cover at least some part of the face and all are connected to the CPAP machine via an air hose. This is, in most cases, an issue for patients. Wearing a mask limits the movement during the night, can cause rash, allergic reactions or infections, claustrophobic reactions, involuntary taking CPAP mask off while sleeping…
How to handle and resolve these issues?
General Issues With Getting Used To CPAP Therapy
Besides the issues with the CPAP face mask, tubing/hose, face straps…there are a few more things that might make getting used to CPAP therapy an issue. Breathing in forced air cause some people to feel discomfort and confusion, dry mount or stuffy nose also might occur, and even the noise from the CPAP machine can be an issue to some.
Breathing In Forced Air
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a treatment for Obstructive sleep apnea. It is the process in which CPAP machines work by pressurizing air that is delivered through a hose and mask into the airway during sleep. The steady flow of air keeps the airway open, improving respiration and sleep quality1. Some patients have an issue with breathing in the pressurized air pushed in their airways. This can cause discomfort and confusion, even panic. How to deal with this?
You may be able to resolve this issue by setting the ramp setting on the CPAP machine in such a way that at first, you have low pressure, which will automatically, gradually increase to a prescribed level. If this doesn’t work for you, besides the CPAP machine, there 2 more types of PAP machines: Bi-PAP and APAP.
BiPAP machine offers two levels of airway pressure: one for inhalation and another one for exhalation, which helps with exhalation (lower air pressure level on the exhale helps feeling more natural with the breathing process).
APAP machine offers automated adjustment of air pressure. APAP uses smart algorithms to determine what air pressure a patient requires while asleep. If in time, a patient cannot get used to continuous air pressure, APAP comes as the best solution.
Dry Mouth And/or Stuffed Or Running Nose
Usually, there is a simple solution for this problem and that is using a CPAP humidifier or, even better, a heated humidifier. If you already have one, adjusting the humidifier level settings could resolve the problem.
Loud CPAP machine
Not much a patient can do in this case… Most modern CPAP machines are very silent and it is usually just a matter of a few days before a patient gets used to it. If it takes time or continues to be an issue, the solution could be earplugs… However, if the CPAP machine was not so loud before, but started being loud, it could be that something is not working properly (air filter is not clean or is blocked, or maybe some mechanical issue). In this case, if it’s not the filter, the best solution is to take the machine to an authorized service or seller.
No Matter How Much Discomfort It Can Cause, It Is Still Better Than Untreated Sleep Apnea
Some patients just can't get used to CPAP equipment… Luckily, in time, most patients "learn" how to live with CPAP, sometimes it takes a longer, and sometimes shorter time. There are a lot of accessories that can help during this process (different mask types, CPAP pillows, strap covers, humidifiers, nose sprays…), and of course, sharing the experience with other patients that just might have the perfect advice.
Living with sleep apnea can be complex and uncomfortable, but CPAP therapy is the best solution, for now.