There are many reasons why people give up on CPAP: a poorly fitting mask, feelings of claustrophobia, skin and airway irritation, and the inconvenience of having to put on an apparatus every night just before bed. But one thing can be said about CPAP: if you can use it, it will work. As a frontline sleep apnea treatment, your CPAP deserves a fair shot before you give up on it, especially if you have severe sleep apnea.
Here are some tips for helping you adjust to CPAP that you should try.
Make Sure You Have the Right Mask
There are many kinds of CPAP masks. Some of them look (and feel) like medieval torture devices. Others are less cumbersome and easier to use. Talk to your doctor about the options available for you, and make sure you’ve chosen the right one. Also, remember that masks come in different sizes and can be adjusted. If you’re having difficulty, ask to be shown again how to adjust it for maximum comfort.
Do You Have the Right Accessories?
Sometimes people need additional accessories to be fully comfortable with their CPAP machine. If you are getting dry nostrils or throat, check into a humidifier. Sometimes a heater may help, too. If you talk to your doctor about your symptoms, they may be able to help you find additional products that help you sleep while wearing CPAP.
As serious as the risks of sleep apnea are, you may not want to jump right into using your CPAP all night every night. Instead, gradually ease into using it. Start by trying to adjust to wearing the mask during the day. First put it on while you’re doing something distracting, like watching TV or playing video games. When you start to feel comfortable wearing it during the day, try wearing it at night.
Get the Right Pressure Settings
CPAP is always going to feel a little unnatural. After all, we weren’t born with forced air pushing down our throats. But there are ways to make it seem less so. Getting pressure settings that are appropriate can make you feel more comfortable (and reduce the risk of secondary central sleep apnea). There’s also Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP), which simulates breathing in and out with alternating pressure settings. Finally, some people like using a ramp setting on their CPAP machine to gradually increase pressure at night.
Older models of CPAP tend to be louder than new ones. If you picked up a used or reconditioned unit, it may be time for a new one. Noise may also be the product of a clogged air filter. Make sure you clean or replace filters regularly (depending on the model). Also check to make sure the CPAP machine isn’t sitting unevenly or on a surface that contributes to the noise.
Still Can’t Adjust?
If you’ve tried all these things and still can’t get used to CPAP, then no one can say you haven’t given it a fair try. It just means that CPAP isn’t for you. Fortunately, oral appliance therapy works great for most people who can’t benefit from CPAP. It’s also a great frontline treatment for some people who can sidestep CPAP and still get relief from sleep apnea.
Want to learn whether oral appliances are right for you? Please call 402-493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.