When used correctly, CPAP is an incredibly effective device for alleviating sleep apnea symptoms, achieving restful sleep, and avoiding the serious health risks associated with sleep apnea. However, many patients, up to 75% of CPAP users, cannot tolerate full compliance because of the numerous problems associated with CPAP. Many of these problems can be solved, allowing you to get the full benefit of CPAP.
Common problems associated with CPAP include:
- Dry nose
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Cold nose
- Sore throat
- Dry mouth
- Sinus discomfort
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
- Chest discomfort
- Difficulty exhaling
- Air bubbles passing through mouth
- Abdominal bloating
- Noisy unit
- Bed partner intolerance
Common Causes of CPAP Problems
There are several common causes of CPAP problems including:
- Dry air
- Cold air
- Wrong pressure
- Sleeping with mouth open
- Mask problems
Most new CPAP users experience some discomfort for the first few days. This will often pass as you get used to the machine and become less sensitive. If your discomfort persists, you may need to make adjustments.
Problems caused by dry air, including nasal and throat irritation, can be remedied by using humidification, or a saline nasal spray. A CPAP unit with heated humidity can alleviate most of these problems.
Dry mouth may be the result of dry air, or you may be sleeping with your mouth open. If you are sleeping with your mouth open, you can use a chin strap or try switching to a full mask.
Chest discomfort and sinus pain are often the result of too much initial pressure. Many patients need to start out with low pressure which rises later in sleep.
Eye and skin irritation are typically the result of mask problems. A mask that leaks will allow the air to flow over your eyes, causing dryness and irritation.
CPAP only works when you use it. Most CPAP problems can be solved. If you are experiencing problems using CPAP talk to your doctor as there may be a workable solution. If your CPAP problems cannot be resolved, you may need to try an alternative such as an oral appliance or, in severe cases, surgery.