Adjustment Tips For New CPAP Users

If your sleep study results in a sleep apnea diagnosis, your physician may recommend a CPAP device to help you rest. While a CPAP can make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep, it can require a significant adjustment. Understanding the most common problems that can occur through this adjustment period will help you to be prepared and respond accordingly. Here's a look at three common problems you might have.

Difficulties Adapting to the Air

The first few times you use the CPAP device, the feeling of the air being forced through the mask can be a bit uncomfortable. If you are having trouble with the sensation, talk with your physician about using the ramp setting. The ramp setting lets you start the system on low pressure, and it will increase the pressure gradually in response to your breathing.

If the ramp setting doesn't help, you'll have to inquire about changing the CPAP to one that shifts the air pressure throughout the night. These are called BiPAP device, and they adjust the pressure based on whether you are inhaling or exhaling. You may find that these are more comfortable, because they ease the pressure on exhale, so you aren't breathing against the pressure of the machine.

Ill-Fitting Mask

CPAP masks are available in many sizes and shapes. If the mask you received doesn't seem to be fitting comfortably or feels as though it's pinching or irritating your face, you might need a different mask. Ask your physician about a nasal pillow mask instead of the full-face style. Sometimes, this improves the situation because the pillow mask only has straps on the bottom. This makes it more comfortable for sleeping in some cases.

Dry Nasal Passages

One of the most common complaints from new CPAP users is dryness in the nasal passages. The air pushing through the mask can cause this. If you find that you're having difficulties with dryness in your nasal passages, your physician may be able to change the machine to one with a warm-air humidifier built in. This adds moisture to the air, which helps ease that dryness. You can get more benefit by also using a saline spray every night before bed and again in the morning.

For people with sleep apnea, a CPAP device is helpful for getting a more restful night's sleep. Talk with your physician about these issues if you're struggling with them, because that's the best way to get the most benefit from the system. He or she can ensure that you get the right CPAP supplies.