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What Are The Side Effects of Using a CPAP Machine?

This post was originally posted on May 5, 2020 and updated on February 25, 2022.

A CPAP machine offers a lot of benefits from improved sleep to feeling more alert and rested during the day. Because frequent lack of quality sleep can also contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and early onset of dementia, there are long-term health advantages to CPAP therapy.

However, like any medical treatment, your CPAP machine may also have some side effects. Most of the side effects of using a CPAP machine come from the mask and the air pressure. Trying out different types of masks and adjusting air pressure are easy ways to resolve unpleasant CPAP experiences.

Types of Negative Side Effects of Using CPAP Machine

Dry Mouth

Dryness in the mouth usually occurs with mouth breathers. As your mouth hangs open your CPAP machine loses pressure leading to a parched mouth in the morning. Using a full face mask to completely cover the mouth and maintain consistent pressure during the night can help prevent mouth dryness.

Runny Nose & Dry Nose

You may experience nasal congestion or nasal dryness with the use of your CPAP mask. Airflow from a CPAP machine can be dry and eventually dries out your nasal passages. Your body may also overproduce mucous to compensate for the dryness, giving you a runny nose. Humidifiers are a great way to alleviate some of this discomfort. Selecting a CPAP machine with a heated humidifier can keep airflow through the tubing moist and warm to help prevent these side effects.

Skin Irritation

Rashes and red marks on your face are the results of a poorly fitting mask. The issue can be resolved by experimenting with different types of masks to find the best fit. Try a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask to minimize facial contact and red marks. 


The close fit of a CPAP mask can sometimes make you feel claustrophobic when you first use it. Try wearing the mask for extended periods of time until you become more accustomed to the fit. Eventually, you will find yourself wearing the mask without any issues. Also consider a nasal pillow mask as an alternative, which does not cover the mouth and nose like a full face mask and may feel more comfortable.

What are the Causes of CPAP Machine Side Effects

Air leaks are one of the most common causes of many CPAP machine side effects. Making sure that your mask fits securely and replacing cushions regularly can help prevent mask leaks. You can also reduce air pressure to prevent forced air from escaping from around the edges of the mask.

Reducing air pressure can also help with discomfort during exhalation. Ramp from a lower pressure at first and see if your breathing comfort improves.

How to Prevent CPAP Side Effects?

The best approach to managing CPAP machine side effects is to select a machine and a mask that work for you. Choose from several CPAP mask options to find one that fits comfortably. Your choice of CPAP machine also matters. 

Many machines come with heated humidifiers to help with nasal dryness. Auto CPAP machines automatically adjust pressure levels to fit your changing needs and ensure you’re receiving the lowest pressure necessary, which can help you get used to therapy more easily.If you still have questions, our customer care team is here to help and offer advice on what equipment best suits your individual needs. Give us a call 866.414.9700 or email us at contact@thecpapshop.com.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.