With the correct use of CPAP there are very few potential problems. Most problems are related to the use of CPAP in certain types of lung disorders. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you should avoid CPAP due to other medical conditions.
The following information is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. It’s a source of education and shouldn’t be used to treat or make judgments on your condition. Do not stop or change any treatment plan without consulting your healthcare provider.
CPAP equipment is designed to be straightforward and used every day by people from all walks of life. Every piece of equipment comes with written instructions on use and care. We will teach you how to manage your first night at home - from setting up your system and fitting your mask, to helping you breathe easier while you fall asleep. Our regulated health professional will let you know what to expect as you continue with your CPAP therapy. Please call us if you need more help.
Clean equipment works better, lasts longer and will help prevent nose, sinus, throat and chest infections. Skin irritation may also be avoided. Keeping your equipment clean is an important time investment in your therapy.
Using your CPAP as prescribed is important.
You should use your CPAP every time you sleep. Without it, your OSAS is untreated and will cause the same problems as before.
You should take your CPAP wherever you need to sleep; whether you are working, vacationing, being admitted to hospital or just napping in your living room. Some healthcare providers feel using CPAP for at least four sleep hours is adequate early in your treatment. However, the goal is to increase gradually to a full night of CPAP.
Yes; if you’re using a full-face mask.
No; avoid mouth-breathing if you’re using a nasal mask.
If your mouth is open when using a nasal mask, the pressurized air stream from the CPAP unit will leak rather than reach your airway. This is not only ineffective it’s often uncomfortable and can cause awakening.
Many people using a nasal mask adjust naturally to keeping the mouth closed during sleep, others learn with a bit of practice. Our health professionals are knowledgeable in the different causes and treatments of persistent mouth-breathing and can help resolve this problem.
This experience is normal and expected when you begin using CPAP. Inhaling this air stream usually feels more natural than exhaling.
The air stream from the CPAP machine is pressurized and directed down your airway to keep it open. By relaxing, keeping your mouth closed, and concentrating on a slow, regular breathing pattern, you get accustomed to the different sensations of inhaling and exhaling. You should ask your healthcare provider for help if this problem persists. New equipment technologies are available to help improve your comfort.
The most common cause is often lack of humidity, which may also lead to mouth-breathing. If you have a persistent stuffy or runny nose before bedtime, or after a few hours of sleep, you should seek assistance from your local ProResp office.
The first step to treat this problem is ensuring you use a CPAP heated humidifier and properly clean all equipment.
If your nose is usually stuffy or runny (e.g. because of allergies), ask your healthcare provider about nasal irrigation or prescription nasal sprays. These nasal treatments can safely be used long-term to help keep your nasal passages clear, make breathing with CPAP more comfortable and prevent mouth-breathing. Non-prescription nasal sprays and ointments containing petroleum should be avoided.
Any issue with fit, function or comfort should be addressed at your ProResp office right away. Your mask is one of the most important aspects of your CPAP therapy.
If you’re a new CPAP user you should fit your mask just snugly enough to prevent leaks in all sleep positions. Mask fitting takes practice. Over-tightening the straps can cause or worsen a leak. Try readjusting the position of your mask before tightening the straps - gently pull the mask away from your face with the CPAP on, then resettle it until you find the right position. If that doesn’t work try adjusting the straps.
Your mask may need to be replaced if you’ve had it for some time and it becomes difficult to fit. Manufacturers generally recommend 3-12 months for mask replacement.
You may continue to snore if you’re having trouble with mask fit, stuffy nose, or mouth-breathing. Snoring may also occur if your CPAP pressure needs adjusting. Contact your ProResp office if you continue to snore.
Difficulty adjusting to CPAP - This is a normal experience for the new CPAP user and requires a little patience. You might simply need time to get used to using CPAP. New CPAP users sometimes have difficulty going back to sleep if they’ve awakened during the night. This can usually be remedied by ensuring proper mask fit and a relaxed breathing pattern.
Breathing difficulties - Stuffy nose, difficulty exhaling, or snoring may cause you to remove your mask while you’re asleep. We will work with you to resolve these issues.
If these steps don’t help and a return to sleep seems impossible, the only option may be to remove the CPAP for the last few hours of sleep. However, it’s preferred you use your CPAP as directed. Consult with your ProResp office to determine the problem and find a solution.
If your stomach feels bloated or you burp a lot after using your CPAP, you may be swallowing excess air during your sleep.
Sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting used to relaxed, regular breathing with your CPAP. Other times it’s related to a mouth-breathing issue that requires some form of treatment. In either case, it usually disappears once the cause is addressed. If the problem persists, or is accompanied by ear discomfort, inform your healthcare provider.
Dreaming is normal and good for you.
Untreated OSAS disrupts sleep so severely the dream stage is constantly interrupted or never reached. When the OSAS is suddenly eliminated by CPAP, dream sleep is restored. It may occupy much of your sleep time for the first few weeks. The dreams should taper off toward levels for normal, healthy adults.
It takes a average adult 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. Before using CPAP you likely experienced significant sleep deprivation caused by your OSAS. CPAP suddenly controlled the OSAS. This in turn allowed you to fall asleep very quickly for the first few weeks.
As your sleep pattern continues to stabilize, you naturally begin to take more time to fall asleep. Though this seems like a step backward, it usually means your CPAP therapy is working. If your CPAP is disturbing you during this time, or if it’s consistently taking you more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, adjustments to your machine may help you fall asleep faster.
You should not stop using your CPAP until your physician says to discontinue your therapy.
Stopping CPAP can allow OSAS to return with all of its negative effects, unless it has been controlled or eliminated by other measures. If you’ve lost weight, quit smoking, given up alcohol or sleeping pills, you’ve done yourself a big healthy favour and should feel proud. However, a repeat sleep study is the best way to know whether or not you still require treatment.
Constant air flow, especially at high treatment pressures, can lead to dryness, nasal irritation and nose bleeds. Humidifiers provide relief from nasal irritation and dryness by adding warmth and moisture to the air delivered by the CPAP or bi-level system. There are also water-based nasal lubricants available in most pharmacies to help treat and prevent dryness. If skin irritation problems worsen or persist consult your ProResp office
Until recently the benefits of humidification in CPAP therapy have been compromised by changing ambient temperature. Changes in temperature cause condensation and mask pressure instability in addition to humidity loss in therapy. Heated breathing tubes, adapted from sophisticated intensive care humidification, deliver higher and customized humidity levels that are maintained throughout the night, regardless of ambient temperature changes.
Humidification technology provides optimal patient comfort and therapy effectiveness through prevention of condensation and absolute mask pressure stability. It also provides optimal humidity delivery in all environments. Research shows CPAP users experience mouth leak up to 31% of total sleep time. Mouth leak can cause excessive drying of the nasal mucosa and congestion due to increased nasal airway resistance.
Yes. Distilled water will maximize the life of the water chamber and reduce mineral
deposits. Tap water may lead to mineralization of your water chamber and the potential for undesirable exposures and effects.
Possible causes of skin irritation could be:
Headgear strap adjustment is too loose or too tight;
Poorly fitting mask (either unsuited style or incorrect mask size); and,
Worn out or dirty mask. Silicone can absorb contaminants such as oils, sweat, dirt and creams from your skin. Extended contact with these contaminants during the night may irritate the skin.