If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, and your doctor wants you to use a CPAP machine, you probably know how important it is to follow their orders. After all, sleep apnea can lead to:
- Excessive fatigue
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressures and heart problems
- Liver problems
You need decent sleep, and you need to get enough oxygen into your body while you sleep. So why do so many people avoid their CPAP machines?
Unfortunately, CPAPs can be very uncomfortable for some patients, so much so that the patients would rather deal with the consequences of sleep apnea than keep using the machine. However, you don’t have to choose between sleep apnea consequences and uncomfortable nights. Learn about the solutions to three common CPAP problems and ask your CPAP specialist or respiratory therapist for help making your CPAP machine work for you.
- I Can’t Sleep While Using a CPAP Machine
If your mask is generally uncomfortable, or you’re just not used to the CPAP machine’s noises and feel yet, then you may struggle to fall asleep while you’re using it. This is a very common problem, and since the goal of the CPAP machine is to help you sleep better, reviewing the following ideas may help you find a solution.
First, make sure that you wear the right type of mask. If a full-face mask makes you feel claustrophobic, perhaps you can switch to a nasal mask instead. Try a couple of masks on to see if any of them will feel better.
Once you’re sure that you have the right mask, make sure that it fits correctly. Not only does an ill-fitting mask feel uncomfortable, but it won’t be able to do its job as well. Consult with your CPAP specialist or respiratory therapist to make sure your mask fits well.
Lastly, if your masks works, you probably need time to get used to the CPAP experience. Try wearing your mask for a few minutes while you’re awake during the day, or use the machine when you take a nap. The more you work with the machine, the more comfortable you’ll feel with it — and the sooner you’ll be able to fall asleep while using it. Be patient, and give it time.
- The Mask Bothers My Skin
If your mask irritates your skin, you won’t want to wear it — and with good reason. No CPAP machine should give you a rash or a bruise.
The most likely culprit is a problem with the fit. Work with your CPAP specialist or respiratory therapist to find the right mask in the right size. Also, make sure you don’t tighten your mask too much when you put it on. For most patients, this will solve the problem.
However, some patients may still have trouble. If this is you, you can try a couple of possible solutions. First, check the mask’s cushion — if you’ve been using your mask, you may have worn it out and will need to replace it. You can also add a mask liner to give your mask extra cushioning. Next, make sure your mask is clean so nothing on the mask is irritating your skin.
In rare cases, some patients are allergic to something in the mask. For example, some older masks contain latex, though the vast majority of masks today do not. If your mask is an older model and you’re sensitive to latex, you may need to switch masks entirely.
- The Machine Makes Me Bloated
Perhaps you’ve noticed that when you wake up in the morning after using your CPAP, you feel gassy or bloated. This can happen when the machine forces air down your esophagus instead of your windpipe, and it can be very uncomfortable, if not painful. This CPAP problem is called aerophagia.
Generally, aerophagia happens when your CPAP’s pressure is either too low or too high. Talk to your respiratory therapist or a CPAP specialist about your machine’s settings to see if they have any suggestions about what changes you can make.
Some patients experience aerophagia because they breathe through their mouths when they sleep. If this is you, you have an easy solution: try a full-face mask, which is designed for sleepers like you. Or you could also use a chinstrap to make it easier to keep your mouth closed while you sleep. With some luck this will resolve your issues so you can both get good sleep and avoid digestive issues.
CPAP machines make noise, involve tubes and cables, and cover part of your face while you try to sleep — it’s no wonder that so many patients struggle to make theirs work for them and eventually give up entirely. However, you’ll stay healthier if you can use the CPAP to treat your sleep apnea instead of letting your health problems go untreated.
Work with your respiratory therapist or a CPAP specialist to make your CPAP experience as comfortable as possible. For more information about CPAP masks, machines, accessories and cleaning solutions, reach out to Corner Home Medical. We offer a variety of devices and products, so you’re sure to find ones that work for you.