Troubleshoot your CPAP

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is when a mask is worn, attached to an extremely quiet, small, pressure pump to completely abolish sleep apnea. CPAP is a safe form of therapy, however as with any treatment there are potential side effects. Minor discomfort and complaints concerning the CPAP equipment are fairly common and often manageable with experienced and the correct advice.

We offer CPAP troubleshooting at our clinics with our highly trained Sleep Technicians. If you have any problems or concerns, book in to see a Sleep Technician or Physiotherapist by contacting us. When renting our equipment all troubleshooting consultations with the Sleep Technician are FREE.

The most important thing is to be patient and give your body time to acclimatize to the unusual sensation of CPAP therapy. Be persistent but seek help if issues are ongoing. Don’t give up just because the therapy feels strange or uncomfortable at the start.

It is not uncommon to have difficulty with tolerating the “forced air” feeling of using a CPAP device and this may be attended to by adjusting the Ramp or EPR/C-flex feature or even the pressure itself. The Ramp is a setting that starts the CPAP device on a low pressure and gradually increases air pressure over your Ramp Time. Increasing the Ramp Time to a length of time that allows you to fall asleep before the device has reached higher pressure might help. Some models of CPAP machines have an automatic ramp that senses when you are asleep.

If the device wakes you at night try turning your device off, then back on again to restart the Ramp feature to allow you to fall asleep more comfortably.

Alternatively CPAP devices often have an expiratory pressure setting (EPR or C-Flex) whereby the device will monitor your breathing and provide less pressure when you exhale. Talk to one of our staff members, or your Physiotherapist about adjusting this setting.

Each mask type will have a slightly different vent design but every mask WILL have vent which will be letting out air during the night. It is there to prevent the build up of carbon dioxide inside the mask. If you have tried a variety of masks you may have noticed that a full face mask will let out more air then a nasal pillows mask.

There are four main reasons dry mouth may be occuring:

If you are waking with a dry mouth, air may be leaking from your CPAP device through your mouth while you sleep. If you are using a mask that sits in the nostrils or over the nose, you can use a chin strap to keep your mouth closed. Alternatively a full face mask can be used to cover your nose and mouth. We recommend you check any change to your set-up with your healthcare professional as adding a chinstrap or a change to a full face mask may mean that your machine setting will need to be changed. If you are undertaking a trial of CPAP at one of our clinics a chinstrap or full face masks can be provided to try and is included in your rental fee.
In some cases dry mouth might be caused by the pressue being too low causing you to gasp for air or too high and air is excessively being forced out of the mouth. Talk to one of our staff members, or your Physiotherapist about adjusting this setting.
Dry mouth can often be precipitated as an interaction between your medications and the CPAP machine. Have your doctor review your medications to ensure they are optimized to reduce side-effects.
In some cases dry mouth might be due to a blocked nose. You should discuss with your docotor about strategies for unblocking the nose such as steriod and/or anti-histamine sprays or even consider surgery on the nose which can be very effective in improving CPAP adherence.

To assist with these symptoms or help if you are suffering from a cold, make sure your Humidity Level is turned up to its maximum level. If your equipment was provided by us and you are unsure as to how to do this on your CPAP device, please contact us.

This issue is called “rainout”. If the air becomes too humid and your tubing is not warm enough, condensation can occur, causing water droplets to form. This may also create a ‘gurgling’ sound when the air rushes past the water collecting in the tube.

If you use a CPAP device with a heated tube, try increasing the temperature. You might find you do this seasonally, as the bedroom will be colder in winter (more likely for condensation to occur) than in summer. Some CPAP devices, such as the ResMed S9 or AirSense10 may allow you to set them to an Auto Climate Control whereby you only choose the temperature and the device will determine the optimal level of humidity to deliver.

If your CPAP does not have a heated tube, try decreasing your humidity level or trying to keep your tube warm. You can get tubing wraps to cover the tube, alternatively you can try placing the tube in bed with you to keep it warm or increasing your bedroom temperature.

A leaking mask can have a variety of causes. If you have not previously had problems with the seal of your mask it could be time to replace any worn or deteriorated parts – the silicone seal and the straps wear the fastest. See our online store or visit us in person for any replacement parts.

It is also important to keep your mask clean and oil free to stop unnecessary movement and leak.

If you are just trying a new mask, it could be ill-fitting and we would suggest returning to the clinic to have it assessed. Masks come in a range of sizes and styles and one size in one brand may not correspond to the same size in alternative brands or styles. The good news is that if one CPAP mask doesn’t work for you, you have other options which our staff can discuss with you.

This is called “aerophagia” and can be caused by swallowing air at night. Often this side-effect will reduce rapidily on its own after a week or so, however, if it continues or is uncomfortable using a chinstrap can help keep the mouth closed and reduce swallowing. Also try sleeping on your left side as this will compress the stomach, and drinking peppermint tea or taking peppermint tablets to help relax the stomach. In some cases your CPAP pressure may need to be adjusted and we suggest seeing on of our staff members to discuss any changes.

Brands and models of machines will differ, however, after you press the stop button, your CPAP device will run a cool down. Your device will blow a very minimal amount of air for up to 20 minutes and will stop automatically when it is done.

Sleep apnea can have serious medical consequences and should be investigated and managed whenever it is suspected. Call 02 6162 1802 or fill in our contact form to see how we can help you.