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Common Problems of CPAP and Tips to Avoid Them-Part 1

As you all known, CPAP is the best non-surgical treatment option available for Sleep Apnea. The device itself functions by using pressurized air to keep the air passageway open to allow unrestricted flow of air. This article will give you information on the common problems faced by CPAP users and tips on how to avoid them.

frustrated cpap patient

The Most Common Problems Faced

  •  The Size or Style of mask is wrong: This is a common problem faced by many new CPAP users. Every person has a different face shape and thus a different style, size mask will be required. What works for your friend may not work for you. So work closely with your sleep specialist or CPAP supplies to ensure that your needs are met.
  • Mask Styles: Many types of CPAP masks are available in the market. Some are designed to cover the nose and mouth with straps around the head to keep the mask in place while being used. But these full face masks tend to make people claustrophobic, in such cases you can go in for a nasal pillow etc. Make sure to research the various CPAP masks and then purchase one based on your comfort.
  • Size is important: Most masks come in a variety of sizes. Just because one size of a specific type of mask fits you, it does not mean that another mask of the same size will fit you. But most masks are adjustable so make sure to ask your doctor to show you how to adjust the mask to fit you perfectly.
  • Getting used to the CPAP mask: When starting newly, try to wear the CPAP mask for short periods of time during the day when you are awake and free. You can wear it while listening to music or TV. Once you are used to the presence of the mask, try wearing the mask with the air pressure turned on. Once you get accustomed to the device, start using the device before you go to sleep. The best way would be to stick to it and use it rigorously for a few weeks, since inconsistent usage will delay you getting used to it.
  • Tolerating the Pressurised Air: At first, breathing the pressurised air will feel weird. You can use the “ramp” feature on the CPAP machine to overcome this. This feature will start off with a low air pressure, and over a period of time it will gradually increase the air pressure. Since the rise in pressure is very small, you will not feel the change, thus getting used to it faster. If this does not help, then talk to your doctor to switch to a unit which provides a bi-level positive airway pressure or one with a variable pressure contour.
  • Stuffy or dry nose: If you notice that you regularly suffer from a dry or stuffy nose due to CPAP usage, consider purchasing a CPAP machine which has a heated humidifier. This attachment will greatly lower this problem. The level of humidification can be adjusted according to your need. Otherwise you can also use a nasal saline spray before going to bed to prevent this problem.
  • Claustrophobic Feelings: To overcome this fear, start by simply holding the mask without any attachments to your nose and breathe. Once you get over your fear and anxiety, attach the straps and continue to breathe without attaching to the CPAP machine. Follow this by attaching the hose to the device, set it to a low pressure setting without attaching the strap and try breathing the air. Finally you can attach the strap and use it while sleeping.

The above problems are some of the things which people new to CPAP face. In my next article I shall continue with other problems which are generally faced.


  1. And I thought I am strange for feeling claustrophobic when using my CPAP mask. Good to know it is not strange! 🙂

  2. I just can’t seem to get used to my CPAP mask. I don’t know if its just a matter of time or I need to go check with the doctor for another one.

  3. hi Lina, no the claustrophobic feeling is not strange at all. I also used to have that with my CPAP, but over time I just got used to it and now it doesn’t bother me anymore.

  4. ya my first CPAP mask totally didn’t agree with me even though I was certain it was really the best one, then I talked with my doctor and changed it and didn’t have any issues afterwords

  5. from someone who never heard about CPAP I think I became a CPAP expert 🙂
    thanks for the article