Many people experience the unfortunate side effect of gassiness related to CPAP. This can feel embarrassing and even impact your daily life.
This tends to happen when air that normally goes to your lungs goes to your stomach instead. Air swallowing with CPAP is common and nothing that you can’t fix. This is often described as aerophagia or swallowing of air, though it’s not always active swallowing on your part.
The air in your stomach can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms in the morning. You might have a lot of burping, a bloated feeling, flatulence (farting), and even air vomiting. The symptoms can be so bad that many people feel that they can’t go to work without waking up early to relieve their gas.
CPAP and flatulence are common but don’t worry, there are some things you can try when CPAP is causing gassiness.
Make Sure Your Mask Fits
If your mask isn’t fitting properly, it might lead you to turn the pressure settings up to try to get more air in your lungs, which can lead to air swallowing with CPAP. Fitting your mask properly can make a big difference in your results for the same air pressure, which means you might be comfortable with lower air pressure.
Try a Different Mask
When the air becomes pushed through the mouth, it can cause gas problems. For other people, the problem is swallowing outside air. If you have a nose-only mask, try one that includes mouth coverage. If you have a mouth only mask, try moving to a nose-only mask, if you can adapt to these. In general, the mask shouldn’t make a difference, but sometimes it does.
Get Treatment for GERD
Many people with sleep apnea experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some of the symptoms of this may diminish with sleep apnea treatment, but the cause hasn’t necessarily gone away. A weak esophageal sphincter (valve) can cause GERD. Usually, the esophageal sphincter keeps air out of the stomach as well as keeping acid in. Some people report that GERD treatments reduce the amount of air they swallow.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Some people swallow more gas when they’re sleeping on their backs. Try sleeping on your side. If you have tried a few different positions without luck, try sleeping with your torso elevated. This can put a little bend in the esophagus, making it harder for air to get in there.
Bilevel positive airway pressure is a CPAP variation that uses variable air pressure to simulate (and stimulate) breathing. It can reduce the amount of gas you swallow because you won’t always have the same high level of pressure.
Switch to Oral Appliance Therapy
If CPAP-related gas is a major problem, consider oral appliance therapy. It holds your airway open without forcing air pressure into your esophagus. This could mean that you won’t swallow as much air, and, therefore, won’t have as much gas in the morning.