CPAP therapy is the “gold standard” for treating obstructive sleep apnea, also called OSA.  For some of the people who use CPAP it is very difficult to use every night.  There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is a lack of education.  With this in mind there are five things that you can try that may help you being more successful with your CPAP.


  1. You can start using it little by little.  For the first couple of days try wearing you CPAP while watching the evening news.  Make sure you are in a comfortable position such as sitting in your recliner.  The reason for this is because it is less intimidating then lying in a dark room telling yourself you must fall asleep with this strange machine attached to you.  Once you have been able to sit for 30 minutes increase it to an hour.  Usually if you can use the machine for an hour you can move to the bed and all asleep with it. 
  2. Clean the mask properly.  Many people are not taught how to properly clean their mask.  Using the improper technique can lead to your skin breaking down, red marks on your face or a rash where the mask and headgear sit on your face.  You should wash the part of the mask that sits on your face every day with a gentle soap like ivory, rinse it very well then air dry it.  Your headgear, hose, humidifier chamber and the full mask is washed once a week.  Again you should use a gentle soap, rinse well and then disinfect it.  Many companies sell a product you can use or you can use the old fashion method.  Use 1 part white distilled vinegar and three parts water, soak for 20 minutes, rinse well then air dry.  Just make sure you rinse the equipment well enough or you will smell the vinegar all week.
  3. Humidification is essential to reduce swelling and congestion in the nose.  Many people do not use or underuse their humidifier because of rain out or water in the tubing.  If you create a sleeve for the tube using flannel and some fabric glue you can help to reduce the rain out. 
  4. Leaking masks do not help anyone sleep better.  Many people will put their mask on before turning on the machine.  They then tighten the mask down too tight.  This actually increases the leak rather then decreases it.  Most of the new masks are designed to create an air seal against the skin.  If the CPAP is not on this pocket does not inflate.  If you over tighten the mask it will crush this pocket keeping it from keeping it from sealing properly. 
  5. Ask for help.  You have a team that is supporting you.  Take advantage of that team especially if you are having problems.  Talk to your DME provider, your sleep lab or your sleep specialist.  They are there to help you be successful.  If you need a new mask or have questions they are there for you.  They can get you a new mask if you need one.  They may also be able to look at other therapy for you including BILEVEL therapy or oral appliances.  Find support websites and local support groups.  These will allow you to talk to someone who is outside your care group and will also allow you to find other patients who may be able to share what they did to overcome your problem. 


CPAP therapy is designed to help you live a healthier life.  It is long term care for the person who is using it and for the person who sleeps with him or her.  It reduces snoring, apnea, and airway resistance.  It does take some getting used to but in the end the energy and better health you experience from using your CPAP on a regular basis will be worth it. 


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