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Troubleshooting CPAP Therapy

I wake up with water spraying all over my face and the CPAP machine is making a loud gurgling sound. What’s happening?

When the temperature drops in the fall and winter time, many patients experience water condensation in their tubing and masks. The air from the CPAP is heated by the humidifier so its warmer compared to the room temperature. As a result, condensation builds up inside the tubing and sometimes in the mask as well. When the air blows through the wet tubing, it creates a loud, gurgling sound.


I’ve been waking up with a stuffy and runny nose. Is the CPAP giving me an infection?

Nasal congestion and runny nose are symptoms of a dry nasal passage. The pressure from the CPAP can be drying to your airway. When your nasal passage becomes dry, it becomes inflamed and produces more mucous. As a result, patients may experience nasal congestion, or a runny and itchy nose.

I just started on CPAP therapy and I have trouble catching my breath when I’m using the CPAP. Is the pressure not strong enough?

In the beginning of therapy, it is common for patients to feel claustrophobic or feel that they are not getting enough air. These sensations may not necessary mean that you are not getting enough air, but that you are not yet accustomed to the CPAP pressure. The first 2 weeks is the toughest time for most patients. Practicing wearing the CPAP while you watch TV is a good way to allow your body to adjust to the sensation. When you sleep with the CPAP at night, try to wear it as many hours as you can and remove the mask and try again the next night if you cannot tolerate it anymore. As long as you keep practicing using it, you body will gradually adjust to the pressure and having the apparatus on your face and eventually your usage time will increase.

Since starting on the CPAP, I’ve been having more stomach and gas pain. What should I do?

Occasionally, CPAP users will experience air trapping in the stomach and wake up with stomach pain or gas. First, make sure that you sleep with your head aligned with your body or try to elevate your head in bend with a wedge pillow. Lowering the CPAP pressure can also help. However, it may compromise the effectiveness of your therapy. In these cases, patients may find it helpful to try pressure relief features such as C-Flex/A-Flex or EPR. 

I started developing a rash on my face and behind my ears, could I be allergic to the mask?

CPAP masks are made of a medical grade silicone and are hypoallergenic. It is important to wash your mask with soap and water regularly to prevent oil build-up. The natural oils from our skin can cause the mask to deteriorate before its time and also cause skin irritation and mask leaks. If you find that the headgear is irritating your skin, you can try to put a cosmetic sponge underneath the straps or slip a silk scarf underneath.


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