Side effects of the CPAP machine
After a diagnosis of sleep apnea, a debilitating cause of sleep interruptions, one of the most effective treatments currently available is the CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machine in conjunction with a face mask.
Many patients will notice an immediate improvement in their sleep patterns and a reduction in other symptoms after just one night of use. For others however, a little time may be required to get used to the process and to curing the sleeping disorder.Regular communication with your doctor is vital, especially to ensure the machine is set up correctly, for example he will check to see if the pressure is too high or too low
It is estimated that 60% of CPAP users are still using the machine after a few months. By addressing the most common side effects that stop the use of the machine it is hoped you will get a better nights sleep and say goodbye to sleep apnea and drastically improve your life and safety while driving etc.
Here are ten side effects or problems you may notice when using a CPAP machine
Claustrophobia – it can take some time getting used to having a mask over your face. Start of slowly if necessary, an hour at a time and increase the duration of use every night even if it’s only a minute or two.
Try using the mask before bed for an hour or two to get used to it. Drugs can help if the anxiety gets too much but this is to be avoided if possible.
Try not to overtighten the straps on the maskThe purpose of the CPAP is to allow you to get a good night’s sleep so tell your doctor if the machine is preventing this.
Nasal irritation and congestion – the air from the CPAP machine can dry out your nasal passages. This may irritate the area and trigger a response, often a runny nose, sneezing, congestion or a burning sensation. Nose bleeding can also be expected.
Most machines will come with a humidifier, when used properly this should alleviate your nasal irritations by moistening the airways as the pressured air passes through. A heated humidifier can make the treatment much more comfortable
Uncomfortable Mask or pressure loss – the mask does not have to be uncomfortable. If it is causing you discomfort, tell your doctor or CPAP machine specialist as there are many mask shapes and sizes. Some fit around the nose and some include the mouth. Some are wider and some are deeper.
Try different masks until you find the one that is most comfortable. You may need to use the machine everyday for the rest of your life so a good fit is essential. Advancing technologies may require an upgrade every few years.
Beards, mustaches and other facial hair along with a dirty or oily face may prevent a proper air-tight seal. Good hygiene and facial maintenance will ensure pressure can’t escape through the mask. If the seal become worn, see you doctor.
Sleep interruption and lack of progress – The CPAP machine may be uncomfortable at first, but it relieves your symptoms of sleep apnea and will help with the sleeping disorder. Remember to accentuate the positives of the treatment, think about waking up headache free, work at sleeping through the night.
Set goals for yourself, try to wear the CPAP machine mask for a longer duration every night, even if only for a few minutes. If your health is not improving or you’re finding sleep even harder than usual, be sure to see your doctor
Difficulty breathing though the nose – CPAP is usually applied through the nose. Your sleep apnea is responds best to pressure in this area. If you find it difficult to breath through your nose than the treatment may not be particularly effective.
Try treatments for allergies or congestion initially and consult your doctor. If there are larger structural problems with your nasal passages or septum then surgery may be recommended. There are a range of full face masks that may be more suited to you
Headaches and ear pressure – The CPAP machine will increase the pressure in the airways. If your ears or sinus are blocked due to allergys or cold and flu congestion than a pressure difference can develop between your differenct body cavaties. This pressure difference will cause discomfort and even pain, similar to diving deep into a pool.
Over the counter decongestion medication may relieve the symptoms and allow the contual use of the CPAP amchine. If there is no improvement don’t use the device for a few days until the cold passes.
If there is no improvement after a prolonged period and it is preventing you from using the CPAP machine, consult with your specialist.
Air in the stomach – Some people may find in the morning that they are experiencing gas or a bloated stomach after sleeping with the CPAP machine in place.
This suggests a poor alignment between the intake (your nose) and your respiratory system. Try not to use pillows that are too high, this can cause the chin to tilt down and block off the airways we are trying to keep open. Talk to your CPAP specialist, a lower pressure may be benefitial.
Noise – The CPAP machine can be noisy, especially older models. Try placing the machine further away from the bed, or mask the machine noise with a fan or other source of white noise. If it becomes a serious issue ask your doctor for suggestions for a newer quieter model.
Bear in mind that the machine noise is probably far quieter than your snoring!
Tube gets in the way – Finding a position for the tube to sit so that it avoids your own arms and those of your partners as well as allowing you to make your natural shifts in bed at night.
Many people find that the CPAP tube sits bets running directly from the mask to the headboard or top of the bed and from there to the machine
Taking off the mask at night and not replacing it – Try to take the mask with you if you get up during the night. Unhook the tube at the machine and take it with you.
Keeping the mask on will greatly increase the chance that you will keep using the CPAP machine after an interruption during the night.