Top 5 CPAP Machine Problems & Solutions

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Do you have a sleep condition that requires you to use a CPAP machine at night? Are you part of the estimated 60% of sleep apnea patients that gives up getting used to the machine after a few tries?

Yes, CPAP masks feel unnatural at first. It will take some getting used to, and you might have to experiment with different equipment and ways of adjusting your mask, but all that will pay off in deep, restful sleep. Your CPAP machine can’t be worse than the breathing disturbances that happen without it, so it’s worth a second shot. Here are a few very common issues people have with their devices and how to deal with each of them:

1. Face Value

Problem: Mask discomfort is common with CPAP treatment because the shape of your face is going to be different than anyone else’s, so there’s no universal style or size.

If the mask is too tight, or it is irritating your skin, it can lead to sores or abrasions on your face after a while.

On the other hand, if your mask is too loose, it will leak air. This means you are not getting the correct amount of air pressure needed to prevent an airway collapse, which is the entire goal.

Solution: Ask your sleep specialist or medical device provider what different styles and sizes of masks you can try. There are plenty of alternatives made for all different shapes.

Image - Man in CPAP

2. Beneath The Mask

Problems: A lot of patients end up taking their masks off in the middle of the night, either to adjust something or go to the bathroom, and get frustrated trying to put it back on properly, so they simply give up and go back to sleep.

Some people unintentionally remove the mask while they’re asleep. If your mask feels unnatural while you’re awake, it’s going to feel unnatural while you’re asleep, causing you to remove it. If you have this problem, then just a little practice will make perfect!

Solutions: Try wearing the mask while you’re awake for small chunks of time throughout the day. When you’re watching TV, put it on for a few minutes periodically. This will help you get used to the airway pressure and how the mask itself feels on your face. Your sleeping brain won’t register anything abnormal or uncomfortable if it’s something that feels more natural when you’re awake.

3. You’re Smothering Me!

Problem: Even though a CPAP machine is meant to prevent suffocating, some individuals feel anxious and claustrophobic putting it on.

Solution: A good way to overcome this problem is to ease in step by step.
Try simply holding the mask to your face without any of the straps at first. Get used to that, then try it with the straps on.

Next, try and get used to simply holding the mask on your face with the hose attached. If you’re not feeling more at ease by this point, leave the straps undone until you feel like you can attach them.

Eventually, you should be comfortable enough to fully put the mask on, then you can start getting used to the forced airway pressure. Most CPAP machines allow you to control the pressure, so start with the lowest setting and work up to the setting recommended by your sleep specialist

4. Leaky Faucet

Problem: Your nose may be runny or stuffy if you use a CPAP machine due to the airflow in and out of the nostrils.

Solution: Most CPAP machines come equipped with a heated humidifier that attaches to the air pressure machine. The humidification level is adjustable, and should help with the runny or stuffy nose. Using a saline nasal spray before bedtime might also help eliminate this problem.

5. What’s All That Racket?

Problem: CPAP machines can be noisy sometimes, so you may be hesitant to use it for fear of the noise that could wake you in the middle of the night.

Solution: There is a misconception that CPAP machines are all noisy. The fact is, most modern CPAP machine models run silently. After all, what’s the point of breathing properly through the night if you can’t fall asleep in the first place?
That being said, your CPAP machine may begin to make noise at some point, but it’s most likely a maintenance issue. First, check to make sure the air filter is clean and unblocked; anything obstructing the filter or the hose can cause your CPAP to run noisily.

If that doesn’t work, have your medical supplier or sleep doctor check your device to make sure it’s working correctly. If the noise continues, try a white noise machine or earplugs to help block the sound.

Tired of trying to fix the problem yourself? At the Pasha Snoring and Sinus Center, we offer a compliance program with our CPAP machines. This allows us to monitor and collect data directly from your device and make the appropriate changes remotely.

Think CPAP machines aren’t right for you? We also offer a number of different treatments, from dental appliances to surgical solutions. Make your appointment with the Pasha Snoring and Sinus Center today and silence your snoring for good!