How to Solve Common Problems When Using CPAP Machines

Patients who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are usually advised by doctors to undergo continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) therapy. This treatment option requires patients to use a CPAP machine so they can breathe properly during sleep, and improve the quality of their life.

How Does CPAP Therapy Work?

When you have sleep apnea or when you struggle with snoring, your throat tissues collapse as you doze off. This collapse may block your upper airway, and reduce or completely stop your airflow while you sleep. CPAP therapy works by keeping the airway open, by pushing air into the back of the throat, so you can easily inhale and exhale at night.

You may see improvements in the quality of your sleep as soon as you start using the CPAP machine. It may even stop you from snoring, and you may experience more energy and attentiveness during the day.

CleanFlash CPAP BiPAP Cleaner Sanitizer - Common Problems With CPAP Machines


10 Common Problems You May Face When Using CPAP Machines

If you are using a CPAP machine, whether to treat sleep apnea or any other breathing condition, we’ve listed some of the common problems you may face when using this equipment. And of course, we’ve provided some tips on how to prevent them. You’re welcome!

1. Machine Noise

The latest models of CPAP machines are usually silent, but some equipment produce bothersome noise for several reasons. Before calling your CPAP machine provider to complain, be sure to check if the air filter, mask, or hose of the device is clean. Sometimes, dirty or blocked parts of the machine produce noise that may keep you awake at night. 

How to Solve This Problem

If the noise comes from dirt, regularly clean your CPAP machine using a CPAP cleaner as soon as possible to remove any particle that messes with your equipment. If the noise remains even after cleaning your CPAP machine, you can try placing the device farther away from your bed or you may also wear earplugs so the noise would be less noticeable. If nothing seemed to work for you, then it’s time to ask your CPAP supplier about the issue with the equipment or ask your doctor for other treatment options.

2. Dry Nose

The airflow of the CPAP machine can sometimes make it difficult for the nasal airway to sustain enough warmth and humidity. As a result, you may lose moisture in the airways and eventually experience dryness in your nose, even to the point of nose bleeding or inflammation. Also, both a leaky mask and having too much air pressure can contribute to drying out your nose and making it stuffy.

How to Solve This Problem

To prevent nasal dryness, you may tighten the straps of your mask to avoid leaks, adjust the air pressure setting of your CPAP machine or use a heated humidifier to get the right amount of humidity that your nose couldn’t supply. If the problem is not with your machine, apply a non-petroleum-based moisturizer on your nose before going to bed to avoid drying it out.

3. Loose CPAP Mask

Every person has a different face shape, so it’s understandable if you’ve bought a CPAP mask that doesn’t fit your face perfectly. And while CPAP masks are usually adjustable, the strap of your mask may also loosen up as you continuously use it.

How to Prevent This Problem

CPAP machines often come in different sizes, so be sure to ask for the measurements of the mask you’re planning to buy before completing your purchase. You may also ask your provider how to adjust the mask to fit your face, although this information is usually available on the instructions manual of your equipment.

4. Experiencing Claustrophobia

CleanFlash CPAP BiPAP Cleaner Sanitizer - CPAP and Claustrophobia

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable, claustrophobic, or anxious when wearing a CPAP mask for the first time. This may last from a few days to several weeks, depending on how you manage this problem. In fact, some people couldn’t properly sleep because of worrying about not being able to breathe while wearing the mask. If this sounds like you, don’t be too hard on yourself. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is by slowly introducing the mask to your daily routine.

Practice using the CPAP mask without any other part when you’re awake – probably while watching TV or doing meditation. Then, try to get used to wearing the mask with the strap on, and turn on the machine once you’re comfortable with it. Don’t force yourself to be perfectly comfortable using it right away as this may trigger more anxiety.

How to Solve This Problem

If you still suffer from claustrophobia and/or anxiety, even after slowly introducing the CPAP mask to your routine, you can try doing relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation. Your last resort would be to speak with your doctor or a CPAP supplier about this problem. They may advise you to try a different kind of mask, probably one that uses nasal pillows that allow you to make your preferred sleeping position compatible with your equipment.

5. Dry Mouth and/or Throat

If you sleep with your mouth open or if you breathe through your mouth, wearing a full-face mask is your best option since other types of a CPAP mask may lead to dry mouth and/or dry throat. This may also lead to infection on your throat or mouth.

How to Solve This Problem

If you’ve already bought a CPAP mask, consider using a chin strap to limit dryness. This strap can also help keep your mouth closed, and prevent more air from entering your mouth.

6. Leaks on the CPAP Mask

Unintentional leaks on your CPAP mask can affect the level of air pressure that comes through your airway. This can also compromise the effectiveness of the CPAP therapy, and eventually forfeit its purpose. Mask leaks can be bothersome as well because they produce a hissing or whistling noise that can keep you awake at night or even bother your roommate if any.

Some of the most common reasons for leaks on CPAP masks include:
  • setting the air pressure too high,
  • tossing and turning at night,
  • having the wrong sleeping position,
  • wearing an old mask that may have tears, cracks, or holes, and
  • having germs, dirt, and mold on your CPAP mask.
How to Solve This Problem

If your mask has leaks, the first thing you have to do is to figure out what’s causing it. If the air pressure is too high, ask your CPAP provider about adjusting the air pressure setting or try to adjust it on your own. If the problem lies in your sleeping position or with you tossing and turning, then try to correct it if you can. Meanwhile, if your mask is already worn out or has tears, then we suggest that you buy a replacement. And finally, if germs, dirt, molds, or other particles are causing the leaks, then clean your equipment right away using a CPAP machine cleaner that uses both ozone and UV light for more efficient cleaning.

7. Difficulty Tolerating Forced Air Pressure

Just like feeling claustrophobic, it’s also normal to take time to adjust to forced air pressure. One of the most common signs that you’re experiencing difficulty tolerating forced air pressure is having a hard time falling asleep at night with your CPAP mask on.

How to Solve This Problem

You may be able to overcome this problem by utilizing the ramp feature of your CPAP machine. This feature allows you to gradually increase the air pressure of the equipment, depending on what you can tolerate. If this doesn’t work, speak with your doctor about switching to a device, such as a BiPAP machine, that can automatically adjust the air pressure of the machine while you’re asleep. 

8. Dry and/or Teary Eyes

Having a leaky mask or improperly wearing your mask can blow air into your eyes which may lead to dryness and/or irritation. The constant blow of air on your eyes can also make you tear up throughout the night.

How to Solve This Problem

As usual, dealing with the cause is the baseline for solving this problem. If it’s a leaky mask, find out what’s causing the leak and do something about it promptly. If your mask is loosening up or is too tight, try to adjust the straps for a better fit. You may also consider home remedies for dry eyes such as trying out eye drops or ointments, taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and using a warm compress on your eyes.

9. Removing the CPAP Mask Unintentionally at Night

If you are used to moving a lot during sleep (even unconsciously), you may experience waking up in the morning without your CPAP mask. There’s also a chance that you’re unconsciously removing your mask at night due to nasal congestion. Dreaming and sleepwalking may also cause this struggle.

How to Solve This Problem

To prevent wasting hours of your CPAP therapy because it’s gone while you sleep, you can try setting several alarms at night to check if you still have your mask on. If this sounds like a hassle, you may consider buying a full face mask with straps that fit your face so you can freely move without losing your mask, or find possible remedies for nasal congestion.

10. Difficulty Falling or Staying Asleep

CleanFlash CPAP BiPAP Cleaner Sanitizer - Difficulty Staying Asleep

The most common problem issue people face when starting CPAP therapy is having a hard time falling or staying asleep. We’re not surprised though because all of the issues mentioned above can affect the quality and length of your sleep. Knowing the cause of this problem is the first step to finding a solution.

How to Solve This Problem

Aside from fixing the cause of your issue with sleep, it’s also recommended to exercise regularly and do things that can help you sleep better such as getting a warm bath or doing yoga or meditation before bedtime. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also be of help.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the most common problems you may face while using your CPAP machine. Whether it’s related to your health or just a malfunction on the machine itself, if any of our recommendations above didn’t work, please reach out to your CPAP machine provider or doctor to learn more about the best ways to deal with your condition.

Ultimately, if you’re using a CPAP machine, please remember to keep it clean at all times to prevent greater health risks that germs, viruses, bacteria, dust, molds, and other particles may cause. Also, you might want to know these things may happen if you won’t clean your CPAP machine.

Pro Tip: Use the CleanFlash CPAP Cleaner

Before we cap this off, we advise you to clean your CPAP machine every day using our CPAP machine cleaner. Here at CleanFlash®, we offer an easy-to-use CPAP cleaner that uses both ozone and UV light as primary cleaning agents for more efficient sanitation. It comes with a two-year warranty, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a universal hose adapter. Therefore, you can rest assured that it’s compatible with your CPAP machine. At the same time, our product is lightweight and portable, doesn’t require you to change cartridges, and is FDA, FCC and CE registered for legal compliance and for your safety.

To learn more about our CPAP cleaner, please visit our FAQ page or read some of our customer reviews.

Mayo Clinic
American Sleep Association

HealthLeaders Media
VeryWell Health
Advanced Sleep Medicine Services

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