5 signs that you are not using the CPAP machine right – we

5 signs that you are not using the CPAP machine right

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5 signs that you are not using the CPAP machine right

Continuous Positive Air Pressure or CPAP is a machine used in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is a small machine that supplies a steady and constant supply of air pressure via a hose, mask or nose piece. The pressure acts to keep airways from collapsing, enabling the patient to breathe and maintain a constant supply of oxygen. However, statistics presented by the American Sleep Apnea Association indicate that only 60 percent of sleep apnea sufferers actually use the machine. One reason for such a low figure is that many patients do not know how to use the CPAP machine correctly. As a result, some patients assume that the therapy is not giving them the relief they hoped. In some instances, the patient’s discomfort with CPAP also increases.

The following signs indicate that you are not using the CPAP machine properly:

1. Mask Discomfort

A single CPAP mask size does not fit all sleep apnea patients!

Patients using CPAP for the first time tend to adjust the headgear too tightly. The mask should fit onto your face snuggly so that the air does not leak. However, it should not be so tight that it causes discomfort and pain. If your mask can be pulled tightly to prevent air leaks, then it doesn’t fit very well. Speak to your sleep specialist and try on another size or style of mask. It is important to find a mask that fits well so that you can continue to be treated for sleep apnea.

2. Nasal Congestion/Irritation

Alleviate nasal congestion by using a humidifier.

Some sleep apnea sufferers may experience a runny nose, irritation or nasal congestion while using CPAP. The nose acts like a humidifier by moistening and warming the air you breathe in. If you experience drying in the nose after using CPAP, your body will start increasing its production of nasal mucus. This will lead to a runny nose and or nasal congestion. One way to alleviate this symptom is by using a humidifier alongside your CPAP. Speak to your sleep specialist about using a passover humidifier (cold water) or a heated humidifier. In either case, you will experience relief in your nasal congestion and be treated for sleep apnea at the same time.

3. Ear Pressure/Headache

Treating sleep apnea alleviates morning headaches only.

Nearly all patients experience relief from morning headaches while being treated for sleep apnea using CPAP. However, some experience headaches or ear pressure after using the machine. This is related to sinus congestion or the machine itself. It may feel similar to when you have a cold and have to travel by airplane. Congestion may block your ear canals and as the air pressure changes, you may experience pain in the ears. You can avoid these issues by not using CPAP while suffering from a sinus or cold infection. If you do experience ear or head aches, speak to your sleep specialist.

4. Stomach Pain or Gas

Occasionally, sleep apnea sufferers may experience gas or stomach pain due to air trapped in the stomach.

While using CPAP, air may get trapped within your stomach leading to gas or stomach pain. You can avoid this discomfort by keeping your head aligned with the body during sleep. If you prefer to sleep with your head elevated, use a wedge pillow. Lowering CPAP pressure may also help but speak to your sleep specialist before doing so because this may interfere with your sleep apnea treatment.

5. Difficulty in Breathing

Sleep apnea sufferers who also have chronic sinus problems, allergies or a deviated septum, may have difficulty with CPAP.

If you breathe with your mouth open in the daytime, then you may experience difficulties with CPAP. If allergies are the culprit, speak to your doctor about treating them with nasal steroid sprays or allergy medications. Individuals who have a deviated septum may benefit from visiting an ENT specialist. In either of these three cases, you may want to visit your sleep specialist and try a mask that fits over the nose and mouth. Many people have successfully treated their sleep apnea by wearing a full face mask.

CPAP is the leading treatment for sleep apnea. If you experience any of the signs mentioned above, then you are probably not using the CPAP machine correctly. Often times, the machine simply requires cleaning or changing the filter for it to work effectively. When used in the correct manner, your CPAP data will help you determine how the machine is helping you sleep better. If you still fail to experience any relief with CPAP, then it is best to visit your sleep physician.


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