Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

4 Ways You Can Accustom Yourself To Your CPAP Device

by Freddie Cox

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is an invaluable technology for coping with sleep apnea, a blockage of the airway that can interrupt your breathing hundreds of times each night. Sleep apnea has been associated with heart problems, high blood pressure, liver trouble and daytime fatigue, so a CPAP device -- which keeps the airway open by feeding it a constant supply or air -- can produce a notable improvement in a sufferer's health. If you're having trouble adapting to CPAP use, here are four things you can do to improve your experience.

1. Make Sure the Mask Fits

A typical CPAP device consists of an air hose terminating in a mask that fits over the user's nose and mouth. For most individuals, this mask would never stay in place on its own, so a CPAP chin strap is used to keep it secure. Unfortunately, an improperly selected and adjusted chin strap can cause its own issues. A chin strap that is too loose will allow the mask to shift and air to escape, while a chin strap that is too tight will produce pressure sores or around the nose. Some people also experience jaw pain.

  • If you have any of these symptoms, keep experimenting with chin strap tension and position until they subside. This process may take some trial and error.
  • If you can't relieve the pressure on your nose by adjusting the chin strap, purchase a nasal pad or mask liner. These products reduce the pinching effect on your skin without compromising the air-tight seal.
  • If you can't get comfortable with the chin strap no matter what you try, you can upgrade to a full-face mask that may prove more comfortable.

2. Adjust the Air Pressure

Every case of sleep apnea differs according to individual anatomy -- an air pressure that feels right for one user may cause problems for another. Too much pressure can create a uncomfortable suffocating sensation, while too little air pressure will fail to keep your airway open.

  • Before you start messing around with air pressure, make sure your mask is on correctly and the CPAP chin strap is holding it in place.
  • On a CPAP device that relies on a fixed air pressure system, try setting the air pressure at different levels each night until you hit on the sweet spot for both comfort and functionality. 
  • If no single air pressure setting seems to work for you, then you may need to exchange your fixed-pressure device for something called an auto titratable CPAP. This type of unit automatically adjusts the air pressure as needed based on such variables as breath alcohol level, changes in sleeping position, and changes in the airway itself.

3. Stop the Noise

Some people have difficulty ignoring a certain amount of noise that may come from their CPAP devices, spoiling their ability to get to sleep. If that problem sounds distressingly familiar to you, take heart, because there are a few things you can do about it.

  • First of all, check your CPAP chin strap and mask to make sure you have an air-tight seal. Some of the noise you hear may be air escaping around the edges of the mask.
  • If your machine is inherently noisy, try a different one. Many modern products boast "whisper quiet" designs that produce much less sound than their predecessors.
  • If all else fails, ask your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of taking a sleep aid at bedtime.

4. Deal with Dryness

The air pushed from a CPAP machine into your nose and mouth can be very dry, leaving you with an uncomfortable parched sensation when you wake up -- which could be the middle of the night, depending on your discomfort level. This problem may be resolved as easily as adjusting the CPAP chin strap to get a tighter seal, or by adding a CPAP humidifier to your setup.

From tighter-fitting masks to more humid air, there are many steps you can take to make your CPAP device work for you instead of against you in your fight against sleep apnea. Try some of these suggestions out tonight and see if you don't sleep better.


About Me

Coping with Chronic Health Conditions: Tips

Ever since I was a young girl, I have had bad asthma and allergies. I had to stay in the hospital several times when I was in elementary school just to help get my asthma under control and it seemed like I was trying medication after medication with little success. I don't remember all of my childhood health details, since I was so young, but my mother has "filled in the blanks" for me. Thanks to modern medicine and a natural remedy, my health conditions are currently under control and have been for a few years now. I am very grateful for my good health, and I want to "pay it back" to others by creating a blog where I will post my health tips. I hope I can help you learn how to achieve good health!