Common Questions and Troubleshooting

What is CPAP?


CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep your throat open while you sleep. CPAP treatment is used for people who stop breathing while asleep, a sleep disorder called “Sleep Apnea”.

            The treatment is done using a CPAP machine. CPAP machines have 3 main parts:



·Motor (that pumps the air)


The mask or other device fits over your nose and mouth. Straps keep the mask in place while you’re wearing it. The tubing connects the mask to the motor. The motor blows air into the tube through a heated humidifier. The humidifier prevents irritation by adding water to the dry air creating humidity. Most of the CPAP units come with a heated humidifier. Overall the CPAP machines are small, light weight and fairly quiet.


The benefits from using the CPAP machine include:

·Keeping airways open while you sleep

·Correcting snoring so others in your household can sleep

·Improving the quality of your sleep

·Relieving symptoms of sleep apnea, such as excessive daytime sleepiness

·Decreasing or preventing high blood pressure and help control your blood        sugars


Many people who use CPAP report feeling better one they begin treatment. They feel more attentive and better able to work during the day. They also report fewer complaints from bed partners about snoring and sleep disruption.


Who Needs CPAP?


If your doctor has given you a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea then CPAP therapy would be recommended as the best treatment. In obstructive sleep apnea your throat muscles relax causing a blockage. This blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring, snoring that may disrupt others.


Selecting A CPAP Machine And Mask


CPAP units come with many features designed to improve fit and comfort. can help  you select a machine based on your prescription and the features that meet your needs.



There are many types of CPAP masks. The fit of your mask is important, not only for comfort, but also to keep air from leaking out. A mask that fits will maintain proper air pressure and keep your airways open. CPAP masks come in different shapes, sizes and materials. Some fit over your nose and mouth; others only cover your nose. Nasal pillows may be used instead of a mask. Nasal pillows are small, flexible mushroom shaped cones that fit into each nostril. Eyeglasses can be worn with most pillow masks.

CPAP therapy is not an overnight adjustment. We understand that every individual has different needs and different compliance times.


Common CPAP Questions


1.  Why is there water in my tubing?


Answer:  This occurs when the tubing cools signficantly when leaving the CPAP unit.  This results in rain out.  This can be quite frustrating due to noise due to the "Swishing" of the water as well as having water around your nose.


2.  How do I prevent this from happening?


Answer:  The key is to reduce the temperature difference from when the air leaves your heated humidifier and the mask.  You can help reduce this by: Raising the temperature of your room, Turning down the level of the humidifier, Using a tubing blanket to keep your tube warm or using a CPAP unit that has a heated tubing or humidity sensor.  Most new CPAP units have minimal to no rain out.


3.  What is the best type of mask?


Answer: No such thing!  Everybody has a different facial contour and preference.  Some individuals are sensitive to masks that cover their nose while others can not tolerate anything that goes into their nostrils.  Mouth breathers or anyone has any nasal passage problems (eg. Allergies, colds) tend to tolerate a Full Face Mask Better.


4.  What is an auto CPAP unit?


Answer:  Almost every brand of CPAP will have a fixed pressure unit or auto unit.  The fixed pressure unit is a CPAP unit in which you will receive the same set pressure.  This will be determined by your physician, sleep specialist or provider.  An auto CPAP unit will constantly adjust the amount or pressure required to keep your airway open.


5.  What is Flex technology or EPR technology on my CPAP unit?


Answer:  One of the biggest challenges of CPAP Therapy is backpressureBreathing out becomes more difficult especially during higher CPAP pressures.  Most of the new CPAP units have a feature that reduces the amount of air being pumped when you exhale.  This is FLEX or EPR technology.  This can be set at various levels or even turned off to provided optimal comfort.


5.  Why is my mouth dry?


Answer:  This can occur when your mouth is opening up during the night.  Turning up the humidity might help with this but the most effective way to eliminate this from occuring is by trying to prevent the mouth from opening.  This can be done by using a chinstrap in conjuction with your nasal mask or using a full face mask.


6.  What are side effects of CPAP Therapy?


Answer:  Common side effects include nasal congestion, nose bleeds and headaches.  Almost all of these can be prevented by using a heated humidifier.  The dry air can cause drying and irritation to the mucous membranes resulting in congestion and rarely nosebleeds.  If this does not correct your issues, try using a saline rinse or nasal spray to help alleviate these issues.  If none of these work, please see your sleep specialist.


 7.  Why do I feel bloated and have stomach discomfort when CPAP therapy is used?

Answer:  This occurs when air is going into the digestive tract.  This is a very difficult problem to correct but the following should be tried:  A change in sleep position, if you sleep on your back, try lying on your side, or if you sleep flat, trying elevating your body a little.  If this occurs, please see your sleep specialist.


8.  Why am I having dry eyes in the morning?


Answer:  This is most likely caused by an air leak around your mask.  You may need to adjust your nasal mask to prevent air from leaking out the top into your eyes.  If you are using a nasal pillows mask, make sure it is sized properly from preventing it from coming out of your nostrils and blowing into your eyes during the night.  If it has been 6-9 months since you have changed your mask, make an appointment with your provider to see i the mask is still providing an optimal seal.


9.  Why is my nose sore in the morning?


Answer:  This is most likely due to the mask being on too tight or an improper fitting of your nasal pillows mask.  Try adjusting the mask tight enough to remove any leaks.  This can be done by putting your CPAP mask on loosely and adjusting it slightly to take away any leaks.  Having any type of mask on too tight will result in sores and blisters in the long run.


10.  Why am I more sleepy after using CPAP Therapy?


Answer:  Sleep "debt."  Your body has probably forgotten how important sleep is and is wanting more.  This does happen and we encourage you to continue with your therapy.  It may take days to weeks for your body to recover its sleep debt and eventually you will feel more rested.


11. How often should I change my mask?


Answer:  It is recommended that you replace your mask every 6 months.  If your mask is used consistently and cleaned constantly it should only provide an optimal seal for that length of period.  Also, it has been shown that most bacteria and fungi cannot be removed after 6 months no matter how much it is cleaned.


 What Are The Risks of CPAP?


CPAP therapy is a safe, painless treatment. Side effects and other problems are usually minor and can be easily treated or fixed. Talk to your doctor if you’re having problems using CPAP. He or she can suggest ways to handle or treat these problems.


Although these problems can be frustrating, stick with the treatment. The benefits of CPAP are worthwhile.


Side Effects of CPAP Therapy


            Mask Allergies and Skin Irritation


CPAP masks may cause skin allergies or skin irritation.  A different mask may be required to address these issues.


CPAP masks come in different shapes, sizes and materials. Some have fewer straps and less contact with your face. Certain masks may irritate your skin less than others.


            Dry Mouth


Dry mouth may be due to the CPAP itself or from breathing through your mouth at night. A CPAP machine that has a heated humidifier may help relieve this side effect.


If dry mouth persists, we may recommend a chin strap to keep your mouth closed or a different type of mask that covers both your nose and mouth allowing you to breathe through your mouth. Talk to your sleep specialist if dry mouth continues. It could mean your mask is leaking air or the sir may be going into your open mouth and causing dry mouth.


Congestion, Runny Nose, Sneezing, Sinusitis, and Nosebleeds


Congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sinusitis, and nosebleeds can occur while using CPAP. A CPAP machine that uses a heated humidifier can help relieve these side effects. Also, make sure that your humidity level is set appropriately and that the mask fits properly.


Some people find that using a saline nasal spray at bedtime helps prevent these side effects. If these steps don’t work, talk to your sleep specialist. He or she may prescribe a steroid nasal spray.


             Stomach Bloating and Discomfort


Stomach bloating and discomfort may be due to a problem with the air pressure setting of your CPAP machine. If you have stomach bloating and discomfort, talk to us. We may adjust the settings of your machine to relieve these side effects.

 Who Is Going To Cover CPAP Unit and Accessory Costs?


If you do have an extended health medical provider, please contact them to see if CPAP therapy is an eligible benefit and what information they require from you to process your claims request.  Your extended health may help cover all or a portion of your CPAP unit and accessories.


           Other Sleep Hygiene Tips To Help Optimize Symptoms


            It is important to remember that CPAP therapy will effectively treat your obstructive sleep apnea. However, some individuals do not feel significantly well rested and have expectations that CPAP therapy will give them more energy. Most people do feel an immediate positive response while using CPAP therapy but to improve symptoms even more, follow these tips:



·Try and set a regular bedtime schedule and wake up time schedule

· Get enough sleep with CPAP (Greater then 7.5 hours)

· Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before going to sleep

· Avoid caffeine at least 4 hours before going to sleep

· Avoid eating heavy, spicy and sugary foods at least 6 hours before going to       sleep

· Avoid exercising 2 hours before going to sleep



· Have a comfortable bed or bedding

· Avoid noisy sleep environments

· Find a room temperature that allows you to fall asleep and stay asleep



            Preparing for Bedtime

· Try and clear your mind of stress or worries

· Set a regular routine such as reading (avoid television) or taking a warm bath

· Try relaxation methods such a deep breathing or yoga



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