Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is considered the gold-standard treatment for sleep apnea, a disorder that affects approximately 25% of adults in the United States. While patients who undergo CPAP therapy tend to note significant improvements in their quality of life, there’s no denying that a CPAP machine can take some getting used to.
If you’re just getting started, here are some CPAP tips for beginners that'll help you learn to love your CPAP:
Find the right mask – and make sure it fits. There are several different types of CPAP masks, and there are some that will fit your face better than others. If your mask leaks or irritates your skin, it could simply need to be adjusted so that it fits properly. However, if you still can’t seem to get comfortable, you may need to try a different model. Many manufacturers offer a trial period for this very reason.
Consider using a heated humidifier. CPAP air has a tendency to dry out the airway, which can result in swelling and discomfort in the nose and throat. Never a fun feeling. If you notice this happening, a heated humidifier could become your new best friend. These devices attach to your machine and add moisture to the airstream, reducing irritation. Many CPAP users swear by heated humidifiers, claiming that the devices enhance their CPAP experience significantly.
Ease yourself into it. Using a CPAP machine is a serious adjustment, and it helps to ease yourself into it gradually. Start by wearing your mask at night before bedtime to get used to the way it feels and practice breathing with it. Many machines even come with a ramp feature that increases the pressure slowly to give you time to fall asleep before it starts working full strength.
Clean your CPAP equipment daily. Your CPAP equipment is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, and you certainly don’t want to be breathing those germs in every time you go to sleep. Many of the CPAP-related problems that sleep apnea patients experience (e.g. sinus infections, colds) are the result of a dirty mask, so it’s important to be diligent about keeping yours clean. Washing your equipment by hand can be time-consuming, but products like the SoClean Automated CPAP Equipment Cleaner make it fast, easy and effective.
Stick with it. Most longtime CPAP users will tell you the same thing: Sleeping with your CPAP gets easier with time, and regular use is the best way to get accustomed to it. So stick with it and soon enough you’ll start to realize just how much treating your sleep apnea improves your quality of life!