How to Adjust to a CPAP Machine

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can make life difficult, cause other health problems, and can even be life-threatening. If you have sleep apnea, treatment can change your world. However, for many patients, part of treatment is the use of a CPAP machine, and that can take some adjusting. 

Dr. Michael Newton and his staff know that a good night’s sleep — or series of good nights — can give you more energy, more clarity, and overall better health. We also understand the challenge of using a CPAP machine. 

Why do I need it, anyway? 

There are different types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea, (OSA), which is where the soft tissues at the back of your throat collapse while you’re sleeping, cutting off your air supply. You are repeatedly suffocated, throughout the night, and though you may not ever fully awaken, your body certainly suffers the consequences. 

Lack of high quality sleep is associated with a plethora of health issues, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Along with those risks, you may also have difficulty concentrating or even staying awake during the day, you may be moody, and your risk of being in an automobile accident is much higher. 

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, and your machine provides steady air pressure which keeps your airways open while you sleep, allowing oxygen to get to your blood. The biggest drawback of using a CPAP machine, for most people, is that you have to wear a mask that’s attached to a hose that’s attached to a machine that delivers the air pressure. 

Your CPAP only works if you use it, though. Although there are other options if it turns out you simply cannot tolerate a CPAP, it is the gold standard for treating sleep apnea. Here are our best tips for getting comfortable with your machine. 

Make sure it’s the right size and style for you

If you’re struggling, the first thing we want to do is make sure you have a mask that’s the right size for you. Your face and head are unique, and while many masks are adjustable, you may need some help getting yours adjusted properly. 

There are also different styles of masks. You may find that a full face mask works well for you, or one that covers less of your face may be the better option. You may need to try some different types to find the one that’s most comfortable for you.

Ease into it

Before you’re comfortable wearing your mask to sleep, you may want to get comfortable wearing it to read or watch television. Begin wearing it for short periods of time so that you can get used to how it feels. 

Next, try taking a nap while you’re wearing it. Then, start wearing it to sleep. 

Although CPAP therapy is the best treatment we have for OSA, it simply doesn’t work if you don’t wear the mask. 

If you believe your current mask does not work for you, contact our office to schedule a mask fitting.

Keep it clean! 

Sometimes our patients come into the office convinced they’re allergic to their CPAP. Some people may be allergic to the material the mask is made of, but far more often, their issue is caused by improper or infrequent cleaning of the mask. 

Use nasal spray if you need to

A fairly common problem is the CPAP makes your nose either stuffy or runny. The forced air can be drying, which can irritate your nose. 

Try using a saline nasal spray before bed, and make sure your mask fits you properly. Sometimes a leaky mask can cause drying. 

Another possible solution is to use the machine’s humidifier to keep your mouth and nose from drying out. 

Talk to us before you give up

Some 50% of people who are prescribed a CPAP machine either don’t fill the prescription or stop using the machine. We hope that you’ll talk to us before you become a “CPAP dropout.” We’ve listed a few possible solutions to common problems here, but you may have a different problem or these solutions may not work for you. 

We want to help you enjoy high quality sleep and improve your health. If you’re struggling with your CPAP or you just don’t think you can tolerate the machine, we encourage you to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns. 

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