Sleep apnea is a big problem for many people. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition where people stop breathing multiple times while they are sleeping. By depriving the brain of oxygen during the night, a host of medical problems can develop. Sufferers of sleep apnea who do not receive treatment are at least three times more likely to develop heart disease than people who do not have it. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the gold standard in treatment for sleep apnea. Many people have trouble with this system and as a consequence there are a lot of options. From CPAP nasal pillow masks to other kinds of CPAP masks, there are ways to make this system more comfortable.
- Get the right size. One of the main problems that people have using a CPAP machine is that they get CPAP nasal pillow masks that just do not fit correctly. It is important to find the machine that works best for your specific needs and that fits your face. There are masks that cover the entire face or you can opt for CPAP nasal pillow masks that are paced under the nose and cover much less of the face. What kind of mask or pillow you get is all up to you. The key here is to find one that is comfortable and that fits your face. If you get one that does not meet this criteria, you will not use it and you will not get the benefits from the CPAP machine.
- Work at getting used to your CPAP device. It can take a lot of time and some effort to get used CPAP nasal pillow masks. There are ways to make that process go easier and smoother. One thing some people do is they wear their full face CPAP masks or their nasal pillow masks while they are awake. They do this without attaching the mask to the machine and just wear it to get used to having something on their face. This can be done while watching television. After you have gotten yourself used to wearing the mask without the pressure, you can start getting used to the device while the pressure is on. After you are ok wearing the mask with pressure while you are awake, you can start trying it when you are asleep. This is important because many people remove their nasal pillow masks or full face masks when they are asleep because they are not used to having something on their face. This negates any benefit of the CPAP machine.
- Work on getting used to the pressure system. It can be a challenge to get used to something forcing air into the body. There are often mechanisms on the CPAP machines that allow users to gradually get used to the pressure system from the mask. They have what is called a ramp up feature. This lets patients begin with a lower pressure setting and the machine will increase the pressure gradually and automatically as you are falling asleep. Your sleep doctor will have prescribed a certain setting for your machine with the pressure setting that is right for you and your situation. If you still have problem with the pressure, you may want to talk to your physician about a different kind of machine. Some will start ramping up the pressure after you have fallen asleep. There are different types of machines that are available for sufferers of sleep apnea. A bi-level airway pressure machine is similar to the CPAP but has different ways and mechanisms to control the pressure of the air being delivered.
- Avoid having a stuffy or dry nose. This is a common complaint among users of CPAP machines. The good news is that it is easily corrected with the addition of a humidified to the unit. You can adjust the humidity level to what you need. If that remains an issue, you can add a saline nasal spray. This can make a big difference in how comfortable the nasal pillow masks and full face masks feel.
Using a CPAP machine is important for anyone with sleep apnea. These tips can help make the experience comfortable.