5 Common CPAP Mask Problems and What You Can Do About Them

5 Common CPAP Mask Problems and What You Can Do About Them

by Americare Respiratory Services

Many people suffer from sleep apnea, a condition where during sleep your air ways can become partially or completely closed off. This condition robs you of the deep rejuvenating sleep you need every night. One of the ways to fix sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. If you are one of the estimated 18 million people that must use a CPAP and you are having difficulties, read on. 

Many of the problems are associated with the mask. Some people experience difficulty in staying on their CPAP therapy because the mask that is worn can be uncomfortable, claustrophobic, can cause dry mouth and skin irritations. The mask can leak air out, thereby reducing the amount of pressure, and the tubes can become full of condensation (rainout). Maybe we can offer a few new ideas to help make it more tolerable.

Here are five common problems with a CPAP mask and suggested solutions:

My mask leaks air.

  • First, be sure your mask is fitting properly by adjusting the straps. Most often leaking air is due to an ill-fitting mask.
  • You may need a different size of mask. You must be sure the mask seals properly around your nose or mouth.  A trained specialist can help you find the right one.
  • Be sure your mask is in good condition. If it is worn or torn or old, it should be replaced. 
  • Another option is to use RemZzzs liners to help create a good seal. You can purchase CPAP mask liners from us!
  • Last, there are several different types and brands of masks. They come in all different shapes, sizes and materials.  You might need a full face mask, or one that is just for the nose (nasal mask).

Different types of CPAP masks - Full Face Mask, Nasal Mask, and Nasal Pillow Mask

The mask makes me feel claustrophobic.

  • Start by wearing the mask on your face during the daytime to get use to how it feels.
  • Wear the mask for short amounts of time and build up to a seven or eight-hour night.
  • Use a CPAP machine that has a ramp feature. This allows the amount of pressure to start out low and increase slowly, ideally after you have fallen asleep.
  • Using relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing, meditation, listening to relaxing music, all while you have the mask on can help you become accustom to the mask.

My mask irritates my skin.

  • Be sure your mask is in good condition, no tears or breaks in the cushion. You can replace the cushion if necessary.
  • Do not over tighten your face straps. This could cause irritation to your skin. You don’t want to wake up with red marks or sores on your face.
  • The use of the mask liners can help protect the skin and help insure you have a good seal.  It is important your mask is the right size for the bone structure of your face.
  • It is possible to have a reaction to the type of material the mask is made of.
  • And of course, keep it clean.

CPAP therapy gives me dry mouth.

  • This is usually due to sleeping with your mouth open. Using a full face mask might be best solution for this problem. 
  • If you use a nasal mask you may also want to use a chin strap to help you keep your mouth closed while you sleep.
  • Using a CPAP machine with a heated built-in humidifier could be a big help as it puts warm moist air into the air way.
  • You can also try using Biotene gel or mouthwash.  This is a product that can help relieve dry mouth symptoms. 

What if I have a stuffy nose?

  • Using a machine with a heated humidifier and one that’s adjustable, as mentioned above, can be a big benefit due to the warm moist air.
  • Along those same lines, using a saline nasal spray before bedtime could help keep the air ways moist.
  • If the stuffiness becomes worse or you develop a cold, using a well-fitting full face mask is best along with the humidifier.   

Learning to sleep with a CPAP mask and machine is challenging. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious complications on your daily life such as excessive drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating as well as high blood pressure.  Most of the problems with the comfort of the CPAP mask can be solved by having the correct style and fit for you. Successful CPAP therapy is very important to your health.

Americare Respiratory Services is the number one choice for CPAP.  We have all the supplies and resources available to help you find the right mask for your CPAP machine, including RemZZZ mask liners. Our CarePlus Program specialist are exceptionally trained and experienced in all the different types of machines and equipment to help find the best options for you. Don’t give up! Give them a call today or go online to read and learn more about CPAP.