6. Leaky mask, skin irritation or pressure sores
A leaky or an ill-fitting mask means you're not getting the full air pressure you need, and you may be irritating your skin. The mask can also blow air into your eyes, causing them to become dry or teary.
Try adjusting pads and straps to get a better fit. If the device fits over your nose, make sure it doesn't sit too high on the bridge of your nose, which can direct air into your eyes.
You may need to ask your supplier to help you find a different size mask, particularly if your weight has changed a lot. Or try a different style device such as a nasal pillow. If you develop skin deterioration or sores, such as on your nose, tell your doctor promptly.
7. Difficulty falling asleep
Wearing the mask alone for some time during the day may help you get used to how it feels and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
Machines with the ramp feature that slowly and gradually increase the air pressure to your prescribed pressure setting as you fall asleep may make you more comfortable at bedtime.
Following good general sleep habits also are helpful. Exercise regularly and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Try to relax. For example, take a warm bath before you go to bed. Don't go to bed until you're tired.
8. Dry mouth
If you breathe through your mouth at night or sleep with your mouth open, some CPAP devices may worsen dry mouth. A chin strap may help keep your mouth closed and reduce the air leak if you wear a nasal mask.
A full-face-mask-style device that covers your mouth and nose also may work well for you. A CPAP-heated humidifier that attaches to the air pressure machine also may help.
9. Unintentionally removing the CPAP device during the night
It's normal to sometimes wake up to find you've removed the mask in your sleep. If you move a lot in your sleep, you may find that a full face mask will stay on your face better.
You may be pulling off the mask because your nose is congested. If so, ensuring a good mask fit and adding a CPAP-heated humidifier may help. A chin strap also may help keep the device on your face.
If this is a consistent problem, consider setting an alarm for sometime in the night, to check whether the device is still on. You could progressively set the alarm for later in the night if you find you're keeping the device on longer.
10. Bothersome noise
Most new models of CPAP devices are almost silent. But if you find a device's noise is bothersome, first check to make sure the device air filter is clean and unblocked. Something in its way may worsen noise. Ask your doctor or CPAP supplier how to properly clean your mask and hose.
If this doesn't help, have your doctor or CPAP supplier check the device to ensure it's working properly. If the device is working correctly and the noise still bothers you, try wearing earplugs or using a white noise sound machine to mask the noise. Placing the machine as far away from the bed as possible also may help make any machine noise less noticeable. Ask your doctor or CPAP supplier if extra tubing is available and right for your machine.
Time and patience are key to success
Using a CPAP device can be frustrating as you try to get used to it, but it's important you stick with it. The treatment is essential to avoiding complications of obstructive sleep apnea, such as heart problems and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Work with your doctor and CPAP supplier to ensure the best fit and device for you. Regular visits to your sleep doctor are important and can help troubleshoot any problems and adjust settings, if needed. It can take a while to find the correct settings and get used to the mask.
With time and patience, CPAP can positively affect your quality of life and health.
Oct. 26, 2017
See more In-depth
- What is CPAP? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cpap/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
- Weaver T, et al. Adherence with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
- Choosing a mask. American Sleep Apnea Association. http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/treatment-options/positive-airway-pressure-therapy/choosing-a-mask.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
- Positive airway pressure therapy. American Sleep Apnea Association. http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/treatment-options/positive-airway-pressure-therapy.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
- When things go wrong with PAP. American Sleep Apnea Association. http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/treatment-options/positive-airway-pressure-therapy/when-things-go-wrong-with-pap.html. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
- Cao M, et al. Continuous positive airway pressure therapy in obstructive sleep apnea: Benefits and alternatives. Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine. 2017;11:259.
- Lebret M, et al. Factors contributing to unintentional leak during CPAP treatment: A systematic review. Chest. 2017;151:707.
- Johnson KG, et al. Treatment of sleep-disordered breathing with positive airway pressure devices: Technology update. Medical Devices: Evidence and Research. 2015;8:425.
- Troubleshooting guide for CPAP problems. American Sleep Apnea Association. https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/cpap-therapy/troubleshooting-guide-for-cpap-problems/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2017.
- Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 27, 2017.