Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses a hose connected to a mask or nosepiece to provide constant and steady air pressure to help you breathe while you sleep.

CPAP side effects include a leaky mask, trouble falling asleep, stuffy nose, and dry mouth.

However, if CPAP masks or machines is not suitable for you, you do have other options. Most CPAP masks may also be adjusted to make them more comfortable.

Here are common CPAP mask problems and their fixes:

CPAP masks of the wrong kind or size

Working together with your physician and the CPAP masks provider will ensure that you have a CPAP mask that fits properly. You may not be able to use a mask that is the right size and style for someone else since everyone has a different face structure.

Look over a few CPAP masks.

There are several CPAP masks. For instance, some CPAP masks feature straps that cross your forehead and cheeks, cover your lips, and cover your nose. 

These work well if you like to breathe via your mouth when you sleep, but other people could feel claustrophobic in them. They also provide a snug fit if you move around a lot when you sleep.

Other masks come with straps that don’t completely encircle your face and cushions that go over your nose. These could be less demanding.

Some nasal pillows may be helpful if you wear glasses or read while wearing the mask since they don’t totally obscure your eyesight the way full face masks do. This style of mask may not be an option for you if you move around a lot when you sleep or prefer to sleep on your side.

Keep the size in mind.

Most masks come in a variety of sizes. Just because you are a certain size in one mask doesn’t mean you will always be that size in others. The majority of best CPAP masks may be altered.

Ask your doctor or CPAP provider to show how to adjust your mask so that you have the best fit possible. To help you do this, you may also receive instructions from the device’s manufacturer. A properly fitted mask shouldn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable.

Finding it difficult to get used to using the CPAP masks

Start with wearing the CPAP masks by themselves for short intervals while you are awake, such as while you are watching TV. When you are awake the whole day, try using the machine while wearing the mask and hose.

As soon as you become used to that feeling, start using the CPAP machine every time you go to sleep, even during naps. If you only use the CPAP machine rarely, it could take more time for you to adjust to it. Persevere for a few weeks or longer to see if your mask and pressure are perfect for you.

Issues with surviving brisk air

You may be able to get around this by using a machine with a “ramp” feature. You might start off with minimal air pressure if you choose this option. The device then gently and automatically increases the air pressure to the optimal amount while you drift off to sleep. Your doctor may adjust the dose.

Talk to your doctor about switching to a device that continually and automatically controls the pressure while you sleep if this feature proves unhelpful. An example is a bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) device, which raises pressure during inhalation and lowers it during exhalation (exhale).

A congested, dry nose

Make sure your mask is snugly fitting. A leaky mask could cause your nose to get dry. If you often need to tighten the straps to avoid air leaks, the mask does not fit properly.

Using a CPAP machine with a heated humidifier connected to the air pressure machine may be beneficial. Changes may be made to the humidification level. By utilizing a nasal saline spray right before bed, you may also get relief from a dry, congested nose.

Feeling confined

Wear your mask around the house while you’re still awake. Start by simply holding the face-only piece up to your face. Once you feel comfortable doing that, try wearing the mask with the straps.

Try the mask on your face next without using the straps or the related hose. Start the CPAP machine and, if necessary, enable the ramp feature. Next, use the straps while doing this. One last time, try sleeping with the mask and machine on.

CPAP-related anxiety may be lessened with the use of relaxation methods like as progressive muscle relaxation.

If your claustrophobia persists, see your doctor or CPAP provider. It can be beneficial to try a different kind of mask, such one with nasal cushions, or to buy a mask in a different size.

A leaky mask, skin discomfort, or pressure sores

You cannot get the essential amount of air pressure with a leaky or improperly fitting mask, and it may also irritate your skin. As a consequence of the airflow from the mask, your eyes might get dry or watery.

Try adjusting the straps and padding to obtain a better fit. Make sure the mask does not sit too high on the bridge of your nose if it covers your nose since this might result in air getting in your eyes.

For instance, if your weight has changed drastically, you may need to get in touch with your CPAP provider for help finding a new size mask. Try a mask with a different design instead, such one with cushions for the nose. If you have skin aging or sores, especially on your nose, call your doctor straight away.

Having issues with sleep

If you wear the mask by yourself for a time during the day to get used to how it feels, it could be simpler to fall asleep at night.

If the machine offers a ramp option that gradually increases the air pressure to your preferred pressure level while you go off to sleep, you could feel more at ease in bed.

Healthy sleeping practices in general are also beneficial. Avoiding coffee and alcohol before bed and engaging in regular exercise Try to relax. For instance, take a warm bath before bed. Do not go to bed until you are really worn out.

Forgetting to use the CPAP masks at night.

Sometimes you may notice that while you were sleeping, you removed your mask. If you move around a lot while you’re sleeping, a full face mask could stay on your face better. It’s conceivable that you removed your mask because you were uncomfortable while you were sleeping. Consider experimenting with an alternative mask design that could fit you better.

Your congested nose may be the reason why you’re yanking the mask off. If so, using a mask that fits correctly and adding a humidifier that is heated by CPAP may be helpful. A chin strap might help the mask remain on your face.

Consider setting an alarm for a certain time at night if this is a recurrent problem so you can make sure the mask is still on. You may progressively set the alarm for later in the night if you find that you’re wearing the mask for a long amount of time.

How can I get used to using a CPAP mask?

To get acclimated to using your CPAP masks, you must start small.

Try putting on the mask while reading a book or watching TV throughout the day. You may sometimes get acclimated to wearing the mask at night by just wearing it while you cook or even browse the internet.

Wear the CPAP masks every time you go to bed at night and even during naps if you’ve become used to how it feels on your face.

The truth is that it will be more difficult to become acclimated to wearing the mask the less often you use it. Use the device for a few weeks or longer to check whether the recommended mask and pressure settings are still effective for you.