Getting the most out of CPAP therapy
Introducing CPAP therapy into your bedtime routine is not always easy. Leaky masks, trouble falling asleep, and dry mouth or nose can be troublesome to new CPAP users. It’s important, however, to understand that most people need to make adjustments before they are completely comfortable using their CPAP.
The first step when starting CPAP therapy is to make sure you have the right size and shape CPAP mask. There are several styles of CPAP masks and pillows. Some cover your nose and mouth. At first, a full face mask may make you feel claustrophobic. Try wearing it while you are awake to get accustomed to the fit. Relaxation exercises before bed can also help reduce anxiety and relax muscles.
If you stay more still when you sleep or if you sleep on your back, a mask with a nasal pillow that fits under your nose may work well for you. Mask size is important, too. Keep in mind that stated sizes among different mask styles are not always uniform. Most CPAP masks are adjustable. Be sure to work with your doctor and CPAP supplier, and read the manufacturer’s information to help you adjust your mask for the most effectiveness and comfort.
It may take some time to get used to the forced air that a CPAP delivers. To help your body adjust to this, most CPAP machines have a ramp feature that gradually increases air pressure as you fall asleep. The ramp rate can be adjusted for your comfort. Other CPAP machines automatically adjust air flow pressure while you sleep, providing more pressure when you inhale and less when you exhale.
If you wake with a dry mouth or nose after using your CPAP, you may want to ask your doctor about using a nasal saline spray or a heated humidifier accessory. A leaky mask can also cause this dryness.
To keep your CPAP system working its best, be sure to replace components when needed. Generally, nasal cushions, pillows and masks should be replaced every three months. Tubing should be replaced every two months. Filters should be replaced every two weeks. It’s important to inspect your mask and accessories on a regular basis to make sure they are clean and working properly.