Having trouble adjusting to CPAP therapy?

22 Jul Having trouble adjusting to CPAP therapy?

If you are beginning CPAP therapy and having trouble adjusting to either wearing a mask, the therapy pressure or just struggling overall with the treatment, you are not alone. Unfortunately this adjustment can be exacerbated from side-effects of the mask or therapy pressure. As fatigue and sleepiness can be common symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea you might still experience these after you begin CPAP therapy but previous research suggests that these symptoms should dissipate within two to three weeks. At first if you experience a dry nose or throat an adjustment to your humidity level may help. However, if you develop nightly nasal irritation or symptoms pertaining to sinusitis a nasal spray may be an effective treatment to ease this and keep your sinuses clear. Here are some useful tips on how to minimise the side-effects of CPAP therapy.

Mask claustrophobia

A technique to assist with feeling claustrophobic when wearing a CPAP mask is desensitisation training. This is where you become accustomed to having the CPAP mask on your face and eventually forget that it is there. This can be achieved by placing the mask on while awake and distracting yourself by watching TV or read a book.

Mask fitting

Correct mask fitting – a mask size that is too large may cause leaks and too tight may cause discomfort and leave unsightly strap marks in the morning. Check that your mask is not damaged at all, i.e. there are no tears in the mask cushion, the mask frame is intact and that the mask straps are still elastic.

How to adjust to wearing the CPAP mask and using the device

Once again practice wearing the CPAP mask for short periods of time while awake to grow accustomed to how the mask feels can assist with getting used to wearing the mask every night. Wearing the CPAP mask nightly will be a lifestyle adjustment for a lot of people so it is best to approach the therapy as “one night at a time”. The more positive your attitude is to your CPAP therapy the faster your adjustment time. If you decide to have a “night off” or only wear the mask on certain nights you only delay this process.

Pressure adjustment

Tolerating CPAP therapy when the pressure increases is one of the most difficult adjustments and as most patients will find unfortunately leads to fragmented sleep.  The CPAP ramp comfort feature allows you to start your therapy at a lower pressure and gradually increase to your required therapy pressure. This simple adjustment can make a big difference and enable you to fall comfortably asleep.

Once you have overcome some of these issues the positive outcomes that you were told to expect such as improved quality of life by having more energy and getting a better night’s sleep will hopefully start to take effect.