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CPAP Withdrawal – The Bad & the Ugly

CPAP withdrawal is bad; there is no other way to put it. CPAP therapy is for life, it is necessity to protect people who suffer from sleep apnea from potentially life threatening diseases. As of today other than surgery (which may not work) there is no permanent cure for sleep apnea. Usually CPAP therapy is prescribed, since research has proven that it is the current best treatment available for this condition.

What is CPAP Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is defined as “the symptoms a person will observe upon leaving or stopping any activity which the body is used to”. CPAP withdrawal is the same, as long as you are using the CPAP machine; you will be protected from the harmful side effects of sleep apnea such as not breathing for long periods of times. The second you stop using your machine, even if it is for a short period of time alone, you will start experiencing the withdrawal symptoms.

What are the CPAP Withdrawal Symptoms?

Suffering from Withdrawal symptoms?

A study was conducted where 41 sleep apnea patients were divided into two groups, in one the CPAP treatment was maintained for two weeks. In the second group CPAP withdrawal was done for two weeks.

The results of the above test were as follows:

  • Rapid Recurrence of OSA: Upon stopping CPAP therapy, within a few days the Obstructive Sleep Apnea which had completely vanished (when treatment was started), suddenly recurring. This recurrence took only a few days to start after stopping CPAP therapy.
  • Heart Rate: The heart rate of patients who were undergoing CPAP withdrawal was found to be higher than those of the control group who were still under treatment.
  • Sleepiness: One of the most annoying and irritating things about sleep apnea is that it will prevent the body from resting peacefully; this will have the side effect of causing tiredness and sleepiness during the day. Upon stopping CPAP therapy within the first two weeks this sleepiness during the day will return (at different levels for different people), but in two weeks it will not become bad enough to affect driving.
  • Blood Pressure and Endothelial function: The study also showed that the blood pressure was increased in patients; the functioning of endothelial cells was impaired.

The study basically shows what will happen if you stop using your CPAP machine (even if the period is as short as two weeks). It would be better if you never stop using the CPAP machine, even if you have  to stop using it for a few days, make sure that you return back as soon as possible.

One Comment

  1. i’m looking for info. re: nervous movements for cpap users during sleep. i have 2 family members with this issue.