Common Problems and Solutions

I’m having trouble exhaling against the pressure, it feels like I’m going to suffocate.

This is a completely normal feeling for new CPAP patients. The CPAP machine literally forces a strong flow of air down your airway, which you breath out against. Imagine your breathing airway is a tunnel, then the CPAP’s airflow would be the pillars that insure it doesn’t collapse. It may seem like you will never be able to get used to it, but for most people who put in the effort it eventually becomes second nature.
The best thing you can do for yourself is relax and try to breath as naturally as possible. Try not to fight against the pressure, or alter your normal breathing patterns. Using your machine’s ramp feature can make acclimating easier. With the ramp, the machine will start at a lower air pressure, and slowly work it’s way back up to your prescribed pressure. Another thing that helps many patients is to use therapy while reading or watching television. Therapy is only necessary while you’re asleep, but wearing it while you are distracted by these other activities helps keep your mind off of the air pressure while you attempt to get used to therapy.

Is it normal that I am getting a dry nose, mouth or throat?

CPAP therapy commonly causes a dry nose, mouth or throat in it’s users. Because of this, most doctors will prescribe a humidifier to pair with the CPAP, which helps combat the dryness. First try increasing your humidifier setting. What setting a patient needs to use is subjective to your own comfort, but there are a few things to watch for:

  • If you’re feeling dried out or congested, turn the humidifier setting up. Keep in mind that your humidifier setting is also effected by the relative humidity around you, so you may have to adjust again as weather changes.
  • If you experience “rain out”, or water gathering in the hose, it is a sign you need to turn the humidifier down. Most newer CPAP machines can use a heated tubing, which can greatly reduce the risk of rain out.

Sometimes though the humidity level is not the issue, especially when the dryness is in the mouth or throat. Usually what this means is that you’re experiencing a mouth leak. Essentially all the air you’re taking in through your nose is cycling right back out of your mouth. In this case, a chinstrap will need to be worn. The majority of patients only need to wear the chinstrap for about 2 to 4 weeks, by which time keeping their mouth closed while sleeping becomes natural. Occasionally though, a patient will require a chinstrap as long as they use the CPAP.

I feel air coming out from the front of the mask, should that be happening?

Air coming out from the front of your mask is completely normal. Every CPAP mask has an exhalation port that allows CO2 to escape the breathing circuit so you do not breath it back in. However, if you’re losing air from the sides of your mask, or through the nasal pillows, the mask will need to be adjusted. Make sure that any adjustments you make are even on both sides, and be wary of over or under tightening.

The pressure is too strong, can I lower it?

No you cannot adjust your own pressure, the setting is a prescribed pressure that must be set according to the doctor’s prescription. You can try increasing the ramp time to allow yourself to be in a deeper sleep when you get to your full pressure. The prescribed pressure is what your body needs to maintain your airway. For most patients it is normal for the exhale to feel resistant. After using therapy for a few days to weeks the pressure will no longer feel too strong, because your body becomes adjusted to breathing on the pressurized air.

How often should I replace my supplies?

Most patients receive a stock of fresh supplies every 90 days, and the majority of insurances cover these supplies. If your using a nasal mask or pillows, the cushions or pillows should be changed every two weeks. If it’s a full face mask, the cushions will last about a month. Your machine’s filters should be changed every two weeks, and your hose should be replaced every three months. To help you stay on schedule every three months Advanced Homecare sends our patients:

  • 6 Nasal Cushions/Pillows or 3 Full Face Mask Cushions
  • 1 Mask Frame/Short Tube
  • 1 Breathing Tube
  • 6 Disposable Filters

Every 180 days we will also include:

  • 1 Headgear (The Velcro straps)
  • 1 Pollen Filter (If required by your CPAP machine)