While using a CPAP machine is vital for helping manage your obstructive sleep apnea, some users initially find the flow of pressurized air to be uncomfortable. The discomfort from this constant flow of air can make it hard to fall asleep. Some people even end up removing their mask during the night (sometimes deliberately, sometimes unconsciously).
Needless to say, such actions will make it hard for you to get any kind of benefit from your CPAP machine.
The good news is that you don’t have to fight against uncomfortable air pressure settings, nor do you have to give up on CPAP therapy entirely. There are several options available that can help you get the sleep apnea treatment you need while also enjoying a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Here are some key options to consider to address air pressure discomfort.
1. Double-Check Mask Fit
Quite often, the issue isn’t with your CPAP machine’s air pressure settings — instead, you simply might not have the right mask for your needs. This is especially common if you use nasal pillows. Though small and unobtrusive, nasal pillows are known to be uncomfortable for users who require higher air pressure settings. Because the flow of air is going directly into your nostrils, the higher air pressure can be a bit more than you can handle. This can also dry out your nasal passages, increasing the likelihood of getting a nosebleed.
For users with especially high pressure settings, a full face mask is generally recommended. A full face mask covers both the mouth and nose, which causes the air to be more evenly dispersed. At the same setting that is uncomfortable with nasal pillows, a full face mask will feel much more comfortable.
Another mask-related issue that can sometimes contribute to user discomfort is a mask that is leaky or too tight. When your mask isn’t tight enough, air can leak from around the edges, causing air to blow on your face. However, if the mask is too tight, it can irritate your skin and contribute to headaches. Make sure you have a snug, yet comfortable fit.
2. Make Use of Added CPAP Features
Many modern CPAP machines have introduced several user-friendly features to make nighttime breathing more comfortable, even if you require a higher air pressure setting. Equipment like the ResMed AirSense S10 CPAP w/HumidAir Heated Humidifier utilize heated humidification, expiratory pressure relief, and ramping features to enhance user comfort.
Heated humidifiers add moisture to the air delivered by your CPAP machine, reducing the likelihood of developing a dry mouth or sore throat. Moist, warm air is more comfortable than the cold dry air you’ll get without a humidifier. Most CPAP machines allow users to choose from multiple humidity settings to find their ideal comfort level.
Ramping features allow you to ease into your prescribed air pressure level each night. The setting starts by delivering air at a low pressure when you first turn on your device. This pressure gradually increases over time so that shortly after you fall asleep, your machine will deliver your prescribed air pressure. While some CPAP machines use a timer for the ramping feature, others can automatically detect sleep onset to determine when and how to adjust air pressure.
Finally, expiratory pressure relief (or EPR) helps make exhalation more comfortable by slightly reducing air pressure when you are breathing out. As with other comfort features, this can be adjusted or even turned off to help you find the right fit.
3. Consider Switching to a BiPAP Machine
While EPR features on modern CPAP devices can help many users enjoy more comfortable breathing, for others, this still isn’t enough. If you’ve tried the previous options on this list and still find your prescribed air pressure to be too uncomfortable, it’s probably time to talk to your sleep specialist about changing your treatment setting or switching to a BiPAP machine.
BiPAP machines provide more significant pressure adjustments for when you exhale, making this part of the breathing process more comfortable. The ability to decrease pressure beyond what is possible with a CPAP’s EPR feature will make breathing much more comfortable for users who require a high pressure setting. In addition, this smart equipment continually monitors your breathing throughout the night, measuring your tidal volume so that it can adjust your delivered air pressure as needed.
This smart monitoring system allows BiPAP machines to be used for other breathing disorders, including central sleep apnea and COPD. These machines include all the user-friendly features you’ll find in a standard CPAP machine, but with added functionality to improve comfort and treatment compliance.
Finding Comfortable CPAP Treatment Solutions
It’s perfectly normal for it to take some time to get used to using a CPAP machine at night. While you may experience some discomfort at first, the most important thing is to stick with your treatment. Doing so will help you get your sleep apnea under control so you can avoid the long-term health consequences of interrupted sleep.
Of course, affording the CPAP equipment you need for your treatment can sometimes be a challenge, too. That’s why Help Medical Supplies offers equipment from leading brands like ResMed and Philips Respironics at big discounts. You can save hundreds of dollars off select models, and with free shipping on orders $89 and up, you don’t have to worry about surprise fees at checkout.
Let us help you get the right CPAP equipment for your needs, and you’ll be able to breathe comfortably and sleep soundly.