CPAP Machine Side Effects

As with any treatment of a disease or disorder, side effects are typical. The use of a CPAP machine to treat snoring or sleep apnea is no different. However, in the case of CPAP machines, it is far better to deal with the minimal side-effects than the potentially fatal alternatives.

Here are 10 side-effects to expect when using a CPAP machine and what you can do to help alleviate some of your un-comfort.

  1. Claustrophobia: Having to wear a mask on your face every night can be quite uncomfortable. Start off using it for as long as you can stand it, and gradually increase the length of time you wear it. Eventually you will be wearing it all night with no problems. Make sure that you’re not wearing it too tight, but it can’t be to lose either. Your doctor should fit your mask for you the first time. Use it while you’re watching TV or doing other busy work before bedtime for the first couple of days. This will help you get used to the feeling of not only the mask but also the sensation of the air pressure.
  2. Stuffy Nose or Irritation: The air that the CPAP machine pushes out is very dry. The first couple of nights you may be very uncomfortable the way you would if you went to a very dry climate. This can, in some cases, include nose bleeds and scabbing. Humidifiers are a great way to elevate some of this discomfort. Some machines have humidifiers built in. If your machine doesn’t you may want to look for one that does.
  3. No Breathe Nose: Sleep apnea and snoring are relieved by pressure to the throat behind the nose. If you can’t breathe through your nose or find it very difficult then the CPAP machine use may not be effective. Look for an over the counter allergy medication to relieve your breathing. If this does not work you may want to consult an allergy specialist for additional treatments.
  4. Hair: Patients with facial hair, beards and mustaches, and patients with dirty, oily skin may prevent the mask from sealing properly. There are many shapes and sizes of masks; you may need to try a different kind to help improve this problem.
  5. Headaches and Head Pressure: When using a CPAP machine, you must allow the pressure from the machine to escape you body cavities. Normally air will go through the ear, however if you have a cold or flu the blockage may prevent this from happening. You may to suspend the use of your machine until the symptoms clear.
  6. Machine Noise: Some older machines will have a humming or vibratory sound to them. Keep the machine as far away from you as possible if this is disturbing. If you are still having trouble sleeping due to the noise you may want to upgrade to a newer model or try noise cancelling headphones.
  7. Belly Bloating: You shouldn’t experience any stomach bloating from using a CPAP machine. However, if you find that you are feeling some bloating you should try using only one pillow, setting your machine pressure lower, or flattening your sleeping position.
  8. Tangled in Tubes: Getting tangled in your machine’s tubes while you’re sleeping can be a problem. The more you use the machine, the better you will get at sleeping with it. However, you can try using pillows or blankets to keep obstructions away from you and you can position the machine so that the tubes don’t fall on your chest or arms while you’re asleep.
  9. Bathroom Breaks: At night if you have to get up to use the restroom, do not remove your mask; only disconnect it from the machine. If you leave the mask on you will be more likely to resume use when you return to bed.
  10. No Improvements: If you are not seeing any improvements with your CPAP use, consider keeping a sleep diary, and always try to remember the positives about using the machine. Keep track of headaches and when you feel tired in the morning, or if you’re consistently waking up at night (remember to track the hour). If you sleep apnea is not improving after a month or so you should return to your doctor (and remember to take your diary with you).

Bio: Chris Vasta operates TheCPAPShop.com, a leading retailer of CPAP equipment, located in New Jersey.  He understands the importance of education about CPAP equipment so that CPAP users will make knowledgeable decisions regarding their treatment.

10 comments
CandyKwak
CandyKwak

Candria. Does anyone have problems with eyes. Watery and gettinf infected

casttt
casttt

My husband has gotten a condition where he keeps itching his face in the mask area until its so red. He does has a mustache and beard. He is African American so when you can see red on his face you know he has not been able to stop scratching. I hope u can help. He has tried all kinds of lotion. Now he is trying corn starch.

johnnysuth1
johnnysuth1

Hi ,

I have severe obstuctive sleep apnea , I must have had it years and on my sleep lab test i had 54 apnea's per hour . Anyway i now have a cpap machine set on 14 .. But im experiencing dizzy spells when im awake , and faigue / plus chest pains & headaches in the daytime ... I feel burn't out and exausted all the time , and I stuggle to get up and go ... Are these normal side effects ??? Or not ..

Warren
Warren

I've been using a CPAP for a couple of years now and I find that shortly after I remove the mask in the morning, my back aches and hurts like hell. Why does this happen and what can I do to prevent this? Sometimes, if I wake up before my alarm, I'll remove it and attempt to sleep the rest of the way, but my back hurts so much that usually I just get up.

C Karnas
C Karnas

I have the same problem with dry mouth even with a humidifier. I wake up several times with my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth.

david michels
david michels

What are the side effects considering dental problems? My CPAP makes my mouth so dry that my tongue actually sticks to the roof of my mouth.

SleepRT
SleepRT

@casttt Lotion can only be on the face during the day.  At night it is absolutely essential that his skin be squeaky clean and that the mask is clean too.  If he hasn't done a deep clean on his mask in awhile, you're going to want to soak it for at least 30 minutes in a mild mixture of warm water and baby shampoo (yes, baby shampoo) then wash with a clean cloth and rinse very, very well.  


The above cleaning procedure for his mask should take place at least once a week.  On a daily basis, he can wipe his mask down well with a clean cloth and plain warm water.  If the irritation continues, check out REMZZZS.COM for mask liners that can help people with sensitivities to silicone or gel masks.  Also, if he hasn't replaced his mask in awhile, he should.  Masks and headgear should be replaced every six months.  


I am a Respiratory Therapist and CPAP/BIPAP Specialist......and I also use a CPAP of my own. 

admin
admin

Hello Warren, That is an unusual issue and one we have not come across from others. The CPAP should not cause an issue with your back. However, if you are sleeping in an unusual position due to your mask, that might be the issue. Sorry we could not help further. The CPAP Shop

admin
admin

Hello, Although more details would be needed, it might be helpful to switch to a full face mask as your mouth may be open during sleep. If you would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to work through the issue with you. The CPAP Shop Team www.thecpapshop.com

admin
admin

David, Sorry for the delayed response. It sounds as though you need a humidifier. That should significantly help the dryness associated with using a CPAP machine. If you need further information, please contact us at www.thecpapshop.com The CPAP Shop team