Common CPAP Complaints
According to the Mayo Clinic, the complaint most often heard from new users is that the CPAP machine is hard to get used to. It is suggested that the machine be worn during the day for short periods of time while watching TV, or while taking a nap to ensure that the air pressure and mask fit is correct, but this must be done consistently in order to get used to the mask. If it is difficult to fall and stay asleep while wearing the machine, doctors may be able to prescribe a machine with a “ramp” feature, which increases air pressure gradually as the user falls asleep. More recently, Auto CPAP machines have been released that automatically adjust the air pressure of the machine to conform to what is needed, depending on the user’s stage of the sleep cycle. This kind of CPAP machine is helpful to those who experience discomfort with the steady stream of air provided by a normal CPAP machine. Lastly, it may take some time to get used to the noise that the CPAP machine makes. Most modern machines are almost noiseless, but if the machine is making noise, check to see if the air filter is clean and unblocked, or bring it back to a doctor so they can make sure the machine is working properly. If the noise continues to be a problem, it may help to wear earplugs, turn on a white noise machine, or talk to a doctor about getting more tubing so the machine can be farther from the bed.
New users of the CPAP machine may experience some trouble with the sleep mask itself. One of the most common problems associated with usage would be an ill-fitting mask. A mask that is too large or too small may cause skin irritation or pressure sores, so it is important to find the correct fit. There are many styles of masks available to fit an individual’s needs or preferences. These include full masks that cover the mouth and nose; these fuller coverage masks work well if the user tends to be a restless sleeper, or if the user prefers to breathe through his or her mouth during sleep. Another option includes nasal pillows with fewer straps. These are ideal if the user wears glasses and does not tend to move around during sleep. If the mask tends to fall off the face at night due to movement while sleeping, it may be better to have a full face mask that has more stable straps. It all depends on what is preferred or needed, and the range of different masks allows room for adjustment.
To get the best and longest use out of the CPAP machine, it is important to ensure that it is kept clean and well taken care of. On a daily basis, wiping down the mask with a damp cloth with mild soap will prevent facial oils and dead skin from accumulating, which would make it difficult for the mask to create a seal over the mouth and nose. Take special care to clean the mask and the tubes daily when ill. Every week, the mask, tubes, and head straps should be soaked in a mixture of warm water and ammonia-free soap for about 5 minutes, and then hung out to dry, making sure that all equipment is completely dry before the next use. The machine itself can also be wiped down with a slightly damp cloth. The main filter can be rinsed in warm water and blotted dry, but the white filter should not be washed- those should be replaced each month. If the machine has a humidifier, the water chamber should be washed out with soap and warm water once a week, and should also be disinfected once every other week. To disinfect, just fill the water chamber with 1 part white vinegar and 5 parts water, and then soak it for about 30 minutes. Rinse it out, and then put in the dishwasher to be washed thoroughly. Use only distilled water in the humidifier to help prevent mineral buildup in the water chamber. Keeping the CPAP machine well cleaned will help it run at an optimal level for a long time.