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Readers Respond: Top Ways to Overcome the Problems with Using CPAP to Treat Sleep Apnea

Responses: 46


Updated May 15, 2009

Must be a better way

I've been a cpap user for about 3 years now. It has helped me tremendously, however I am starting to experience more pain, discomfort, than I can stand. I have a deveated septum which makes using a nasal pillow very hard to use without using afrin. So that has left me limited to a full face mask. When I use it it leaves my nose red and scarred. I have learned a neat trick for someone trying to keep your mouth closed without using tape (was tempted to try, but never did it), I took one of my wife's stockings and used it to tie up my chin, try it it works well. Now for the problem with the nose I can't solve. Iv'e tried band aids but they don't help.
—Guest Patrick

Another open mouth problem

I find that when my mouth opens when I sleep I end up swallowing air. This doesn't seem to affect my sleep (I NEVER sleep without my CPAP now that I have it), but can lead to an uncomfortable couple of hours when I get up. Just using the CPAP has cut down on an open mouth about 95% or more, but the pressure still will open my mouth enough for the air to go in and then I automatically swallow unless I'm awake enough to realize it.

Don't jump to conclusions on mask choice

It is a fact that nasal pillows are far more comfortable than any other. They are light and unobtrusive. Unfortunately those of us who have sever apnea at our titration are used to breathing through our mouths just to be able to breathe as our air passage via our nostrils is closed. Thus we are usually prescribed a full face mask which we then struggle to come to terms with and many quit out of frustration. I found that the cpap machine after opening my nasal passage allowed me to breathe through my nose with no problem and I have used a nasal pillow mask fro one week after starting cpap with much greater comfort. So my advice is be prepared to change mask design to one that is the most comfortable and ignore the numbers for the first few weeks. You will not be sorry. A CONTINUOUS CPAP USER
—Guest Ron H

Trying CPAP a second time

Well guys.. I'm in..I tried the cpap in feb. of this year and I felt it kept me up so I returned it. I was prescribed meds to go to sleep and that didnt help. Then I went to an acupunturist, hpynosis and testosterone therapy and nothing put me to sleep. I'm going to try the CPAP again because the alternative is not good. I also have a oral appliance that took me from Mod-severe sleep apnea to Moderate. I'll be reading your writings to get some input. I'm still on A sleeping aid and hope to get off it once the cpap takes hold---I did have one good experience with the machine where I slept with it all night at a sleep study however they had to give me drugs to put me out. Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated...thx
—Guest Joe

CPAP Experiences

My husband and I both use a CPAP and it has changed our lives. I am not overweight but had a bad snoring problem. We were both so tired all the time. The CPAP has really enriched our lives. It didn't take too long to get used to the mask probably less than three months.
—Guest Charlotte Coffey

My solution to mouth breathing

Gentle, first-aid quality paper tape. No I do not tape up my mouth completely; I just use a small strip down the center from my nose to chin. This encourages my mouth to stay closed. Other types of tape leave sticky residue and I have reactions to the adhesive. One night while fumbling on the nightstand for my tape, I asked my dog where I had put it. He leaves the room and promptly comes back with a roll of duct tape. I swear its true. I guess I snore too...
—Guest irpgal

sleeping with mouth open

It's easy, not trying to be funny but after trying everything. I cut two pieces of Walmart's "Duck Tape" across my mouth and after licking my lips glue them on from the nose to the chin and voila! Take off in the morning with no problem!

Mouth Breathing

I have tried both the mouth and nose mask, and the chin strap. I find that the mouth and nose mask works the best, however it does not seal as well as the nose mask, even though they are made by the same manufacturer (there just isn't enough inflatable skirt, like on the nose mask). The chin strap is very hard to use, because most have one strap that goes over the top of the head. All I can say is GOOD LUCK IN KEEPING IT IN PLACE. Most of the chin straps I have seen or used, definately need more thought in their design, especially considering what we pay for them.
—Guest Martin Siml

How to prevent mouth breathing

I use a full face mask, works a lot better than the nasal only for those of us that breathe that way.
—Guest Mike

Response to solving her own problem

Suzy, Not everyone who wears CPAP is overweight. I am built very nicely infact. I do not have sleep apnea. I have sleep hypopnea which means that I am unable to take a deep enough breath. This was due to an accident. Congratulations on your weight loss, but please know that there are other factors to CPAP usage.
—Guest dawniekate

It Worked it's Way Out

I used to snore terribly and found myself my own 'cure.' I'm not even sure if I had Sleep Apnea. But I do know that if my snoring kept up, I would, have had to, eventually, order a machine to help me breath and/or breathe better. I ended up not needing any of that after I lost 85 pounds! I think it's true that heavy folks do snore more than thinner people. I couldn't believe the difference though when I was heavy compared to the weight of a more typical person who stands at 5'5".

trouble shooting

You must have the correct mask. I suggest the swift.. they have a brand new one that is just hitting the market. Truly lightweight and barely know it is there. Perhaps you need to update your cpap machine as mine is very compact and makes no noise nor does it put any heat into the air. Resmed is the very best of equipment.
—Guest dawniekate

CPAP problems and solution

* Those with congested nasal passage ways may need to take antihistamines and decongestants before sleeping. * cold ambient room air temperature can make make the air from the CPAP irritating. The CPAP humidifier can heat up the air. * noise from the cpap machine is less if you put the machine on the floor underneath the bed. * the mask fitting is important. If the mask has an air leak it makes a loud noise. Learning to adjust the mask strap as loosely as possible without loosing the air seal on the mask is an important skill. When the mask is on too tight it makes it harder to fall a sleep.How the straps fit behind the mask is just as important as how the mask fits over the face.
—Guest still struggling with CPAP Therapy


I had a heck of a time during the sleep study with the CPAP...When I received my own machine... I said I would give it an honest 2 weeks. I used it the first night and slept well. I woke up feeling like a brand new person.... I have never gone without it. The secret is to get just the nasal pillows... they don't cover the whole face as I am claustrophopic. Get the proper fit and have the machine set for ramping. My machine is also set to decrease the pressure as I exhale. I love my CPAP.... I have my life back. I have hypopnea, not apnea. I had a constant headache for one year. A day after the CPAP and the headache was gone. Now all of the symptoms of which I was experiencing are gone. I was in an auto accident.... I saw 3 neurologists and they couldn't figure out what was wrong. My PCP figured it out and ordered the initial sleep study. He saved my life. I am now off all medication and doing quite well. I should be a CPAP spokesperson....lol

Air Blowing in Face

From my experience, the initial thing that bothers people the most is having air blowing in their face. It can be quite uncomfortable to try to breathe out against this pressure. I have found that practicing while you are awake, and not intending to sleep, is best. Try breathing with your CPAP while you are relaxing and watching television. Hold the mask to your face rather than strapping it on. If it becomes bothersome, take it away. With continued practice, most people can overcome this initial anxiety.

What I learned when I started CPAP

1. A sleep study is in no way comparable to using CPAP every night. 2. Getting the right fitting mask is the most important aspect if you want to succeed in using CPAP. 3. "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you are probably right" (Henry Ford I think)OR "Do, or not do, there is no try" (Yoda) 4. Your snoring is almost always louder than the CPAP machine. 5. Those that matter don't care how you look, just that you regain your health, so stop worrying about how you look, and concentrate on how you will feel. 6. CPAP is the gold standard therapy for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is why all the alternatives offered prey on people who are struggling with consistent CPAP use. Yes, they are all second best or worse. 7. CPAP only works when it is used. 8. The first month of CPAP is a pain, as you get used to the habits of using CPAP, but after only three months of using it every night I had turned back into a functioning human being.

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