Helpful Hints For CPAP Users

We have listed some common problems that arise with using CPAP. Some of these problems can be fixed or decreased by trying some of the suggestions listed. These are only suggestions and if your problems persist, please consult your homecare provider or physician.

Dry Eyes

This can occur due to mask leaks

  • Make sure your mask has a tight seal around your face – this may require you to adjust the mask
  • If after adjusting, air is still escaping by your eyes, consult your homecare provider. This may not be the correct style or size of mask for you.

Dry Nose

Your nose acts as a humidifier. However, when you have a large amount of air being pushed through your nose, this could cause drying and irritation.

  • Use a heated humidifier with your CPAP machine and adjust it for comfort
  • Use nasal salt solution sprays 4x/day
  • You may want to consider getting a humidifier for your room to assist with increasing the water in the air, especially during the winter months.

Stuffy Nose

This may be due to swollen tissue inside the nose. This can be caused from dryness, allergies or a common cold.

  • Make sure your mask fits well
  • Make sure the air intake on the CPAP machine is clean
  • Get a humidifier for your machine if you do not already have one
  • Change the humidifier water and clean the humidifier, tubing and mask
  • If you have a cold you may want to consider using an over the counter decongestant for no more than 1 week.
  • If stuffiness persists consult your doctor

Dry Mouth

This comes from breathing through your mouth at night. If you are using a nasal type mask and this is happening while using CPAP, you are not getting the benefit from the CPAP machine.

  • Chin straps may be used with nasal type masks
  • Call your homecare provider and request a full face mask that fits over your mouth and nose.

Skin Irritation

This can be caused for several reasons; mask or head gear is too tight, the mask is not being cleaned well or soap is left on the mask.

  • Make sure to clean your mask and head gear routinely ensuring that it is rinsed off well
  • Try adjusting the mask and straps to get a better fit. Make sure the mask doesn’t sit too high on the bridge of your nose.
  • Contact your homecare provider to help you find a different size or style mask
  • If you develop skin deterioration or sores as a result of your mask, contact your doctor immediately

Mask Leaking

You may find that air leaks out around your mask, you can’t get a good seal or the head gear doesn’t hold the mask on tight.

  • Tighten or loosen the head gear to get a good seal.
  • Make sure your mask fits properly and is comfortable. If not, call your homecare provider to refit you with another mask

Difficulty Falling Asleep

This can be very common and is temporary.

  • If this is related to having the mask on your face, try wearing the mask during waking hours. This will help you get use to having it on.
  • Most machines have what is called a ramp feature. This provides a gradual increase in pressure to your set pressure.
  • Practice good sleep habits (see sleep hygiene tips)

Machine is Noisy

Most newer machines are quiet. However, if you find that the noise is bothersome, you could try the following:

  • Make sure the air filter is clean and not blocked.
  • Have your homecare company provider ensure that the machine is functioning properly.
  • Try using a white noise machine.
  • Try using ear plugs.

Feeling claustrophobic, try the following steps:

  • While your awake, try holding the mask on your face without the straps
  • Once your comfortable with that, try the mask with the straps
  • Once your comfortable with that, try wearing the mask with the CPAP machine set at a low pressure (turn the ramp feature on). Trying wearing this while your awake
  • Lastly, once you're comfortable with that, try sleeping with it on.
  • Relaxation techniques may also help reduce anxiety.
  • If claustrophobia continues, consult with your homecare provider or doctor. There may be other types of masks that could be used.

The key to success is time, patience and follow-up with your physician