The adjustment process for each patient starting CPAP therapy for sleep apnea is unique, just as each patient’s experience with sleep apnea is a unique combination of symptoms and consequences of the disorder. Most patients will require a period of adjusting to the presence of the CPAP mask on the face and the feel of the air pressure delivered by the CPAP unit. The time of this adjustment is variable – anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. I have had some patients take months to adjust to CPAP. The most important recommendation for any patient starting CPAP therapy is to not give up. Persistence really does pay off. Ask your sleep medicine clinic or laboratory for help if you have persistent difficulties.
Most patients will encounter side-effects from the CPAP machine at some point in their experience with it. The most common CPAP side-effects are mask or pressure related. Some patients will experience claustrophobia to the CPAP mask. Some patients will develop nasal congestion while others may experience rhinitis or a runny nose. While CPAP side-effects are a nuisance, serious side-effects are very uncommon. Furthermore, research has shown that CPAP side-effects are rarely the reason patients stop using CPAP. Simple things may really help with minimizing side-effects of CPAP: Here are a few tips.
* Make sure the mask you have is fitted appropriately. A mask that is too large or too small will be uncomfortable.
* Nasal symptoms frequently respond to heated humidification of the CPAP air. Most CPAP machines come with heated humidifiers but many patients do not use them.
* Do not overtighten the mask. This common mistake leads to mask discomfort and damage to the skin. If uncomfortable air leaks occur, think about changing to a different mask.