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sleep apnea machine

Common Issues with Sleep Apnea

If you are one of the 18 million Americans living with sleep apnea, your breathing can be obstructed up to 60 times per hour. You may choose to treat your condition with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, as these sleep apnea machines are designed to treat the condition by using forced air pressure to keep your airway from becoming obstructed.

While CPAP masks literally save lives, they can also be cumbersome to get used to. By educating yourself on what to expect from your mask, you can foresee and proactively avoid any potential issues. Check out these tips for any issues you may encounter with your new sleep apnea machine:

  1. Wrong style or size CPAP mask: Just as there are many different face shapes, there are many different shapes and sizes for CPAP masks. Be sure to work closely with your doctor and CPAP supplier to ensure that your mask is the right size and style for your needs.
  2. Getting accustomed to wearing mask: A great way to get used to having your CPAP mask on is to first get accustomed to wearing it for short periods of time. For instance, you may choose to wear your mask while watching TV for a couple hours. You can also try wearing your mask during the day with the hose and air pressure activated. If you’re able to become accustomed to wearing the mark while you’re awake, it will be easy to tolerate it while you’re sleeping.
  3. Tolerating forced air: Most masks will allow a “ramp” feature to be used. This modulates the air pressure from low to the necessary level over a gradual period of time, allowing the machine to slowly increase the level of forced air as you begin to fall asleep rather than immediately starting at the prescribed level.
  4. Dry or stuffy nose: Other than using a nasal saline spray or prescribed nasal steroid spray, you can purchase a CPAP device that includes a heated humidifier attached to the pressure machine. Also, make sure your make fits correctly to your face, as a leaky mask might be what’s drying out your nose.
  5. Induced claustrophobia: If you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s important to expose yourself to the mask while you’re awake so you can become comfortable enough to fall asleep in it. First, press the mask to your face without any attachments or other parts. Then, add the straps and press it to your face. Then, put it completely over your face with a low-pressure setting. Once you become comfortable while holding the mask to your face on a low-pressure setting, you can then attempt to do so while sleeping.
  6. Trouble falling asleep: Many patients will have trouble falling asleep when they're just getting used to their CPAP machines. After allowing your body some time to adjust, you should be able to fall asleep as easily as you did before starting the CPAP therapy.
  7. Leaky mask or skin irritation: When a mask doesn’t fit correctly, it will leak air, which means you're not receiving the air pressure you need. The leak can also cause skin and eye irritation. Luckily, you can adjust the straps and pads to get a better fit. However, if that doesn’t work, you can simply ask the supplier to help you find a different size or style.
  8. Dry mouth: For those who sleep with their mouth open or breathe through their mouths, dry mouth may worsen while using a sleep apnea machine. However, you can use a chip strap to keep your mouth closed while sleeping.
If you are just starting to use a sleep apnea machine or have been using one for years, you should be proud of the initiative you took to treat your sleep apnea. Unfortunately, an estimated 4% of Americans are suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea, leaving them more susceptible to heart disease and strokes. With the help of a CPAP machine, you acn treat your sleep apnea and avoid the related health issues.