Some helpful advice about living comfortably with your CPAP device.
Using a CPAP machine or the mask for the very first time can be extremely frustrating. Patients generally complain about feeling confused, uncomfortable and even scared. However, thanks to today’s advanced technologies applied in medicine and the field of oxygen therapy, patients can feel extremely comfortable while enjoying required therapy with the help of a CPAP machine. Once you get over the first few CPAP therapy sessions, you will acknowledge that CPAP therapy is very helpful in your battle with sleep apnea or COPD, and you can shortly see the good results of using such therapy.
Below you will find a few tips that are meant to help you live better while using a CPAP machine. Learn to get the best of your therapy each time and always stay updated with the latest news regarding better technologies, more comfortable accessories and to enjoy an overall better experience.
1. CPAP options for traveling
If you are a frequent traveler, you should know that there are many small sized, portable CPAP machines available. Such a CPAP will allow you to enjoy the best therapeutic experience wherever you are. These CPAP machines are extremely compact, with a stylish non-medical design and they are highly user-friendly. Many patients opt to have different CPAP equipment- the regular CPAP for home use and one travel CPAP. Some of the best models of travel CPAPs include- Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto, ResMed’s AirMini, Somnetics Transcend 365 Auto Mini CPAP machine or HDM Z2 AUTO CPAP.
2. Choose a mask that is comfortable
One of the biggest problems users face is an uncomfortable mask. If your mask cuts into the skin of your face or if it makes you feel claustrophobic, it will be extremely difficult to become compliant with the required therapy. This is why you should choose a CPAP mask that fits comfortably, and one that allows you an unobstructed field of vision. You will feel less claustrophobic and thus you will get used to therapy much easier. Both ResMed and Philips Respironics are market leaders in designing some of the most intuitive, minimalist and highly efficient full face and nasal masks. Have a look at their large offer of CPAP masks and feel free to replace your old mask if needed.
3. Solving the dry mouth problem
Luckily, the majority of modern CPAP machines come with an inbuilt humidifier. This humidifier helps delivering to the mask air that is comfortable and moist. This way, you will not have to face the dry mouth or dry nose issues anymore. All you have to do is full the humidifier with distilled water and then operate your CPAP machine as usual. The machine will deliver air at the most comfortable temperatures and the air will be moist so that irritations and dryness are prevented successfully. Look for a CPAP machine with a humidifier system in case you struggle with such problems.
4. Difficulty falling asleep against high pressures
Many patients require higher pressure settings in order to get efficient therapy. In such cases, using the Ramp feature on your machine can be extremely helpful. When Ramp Time is on, the machine will start delivering lower pressures for the first 30 minutes or 45 minutes, just so that you can comfortably get to sleep. When the Ramp time is up, the machine will gradually increase the air pressure to prescribed levels, so that you can enjoy highly efficient therapy. Ramp is an extremely helpful feature for patients that find it difficult to tolerate higher pressures at the initial phase of the treatment or those who simply cannot fall asleep tolerating higher pressures.
5. Get yourself in the routine
This is an extremely important tip that will help you get into the daily routine of using a CPAP. Make sure to use your CPAP every night, and even during your daily naps. This will help you become accustomed to therapy and will allow you to test which features work best for you. Do you sleep better with Ramp on or off? Do you enjoy better therapy with a humidifier or you do not always need it? Especially in the beginning period of your therapy, use the machine as often as possible. You will notice that with each time that you are using your CPAP you are feeling more confident and more compliant with your new therapy.
6. Regular disinfection/cleaning is the key to living with a CPAP
Many patients consider disassembling the CPAP parts and cleaning them with water a true nuisance. The good news is that you can now find plenty of automatic CPAP cleaners that will thoroughly disinfect your equipment within minutes. These cleaners are designed to help you enjoy clean therapy every time, and you are encouraged to use your cleaner at least twice a week, and even on a daily basis when the flu season is on. Examples of the best CPAP cleaners include: Sleep 8 CPAP Cleaner, SoClean 2, SoClean 2 Go Travel, VirtuClean 2.0 and many others. These cleaners use Ozone or “activated oxygen” in order to thoroughly disinfect your mask, the tubing and the water chamber of your humidifier. These cleaners help to eradicate up to 99.9% of all the viruses, bacteria and mold that might reside inside your CPAP equipment.
If you do not use a good disinfection solution for your CPAP equipment you expose yourself to the risk of several illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses residing inside the tubing which are then inhaled through the mask.
7. Skin irritations, pressure sores & leaks
An ill-fitting mask can cause skin irritations and rashes, pressure sores and also mask leaks. You can avoid all these three problems by truly paying attention to how your mask is fitted. Every day, make small adjustments to your mask in order to find that perfect fit. It is recommended that you make certain adjustments in front of a mirror, see how your adjustment works while in therapy and continue with more adjustments until you find the perfect fit.
When the mask does not fit well you are not receiving the required pressure into your lungs. An ill-fitting mask can also blow some air towards the eyes area and this further accelerates your discomfort. Your eyes can become teary or dry and then you need to remedy this problem too. Adjust the pads and straps of your mask to get the best fit. If your mask sits over your nose, ensure it will not sit at a point too high on the bridge of your nose, as this can lead to air becoming directed towards your eyes. You could also try different Mask styles, such as switching from a full face mask to a nasal pillows mask, or vice versa. See what works best for you, make the adjustments and you will ultimately enjoy comfortable therapy.
8. Noisy CPAP – Bothersome sleeping
Indeed, if you have to sleep all night with a noisy CPAP, it is almost impossible to wake up refreshed in the morning. Carefully check your CPAP unit for any blockages that might be present and cause the machine to operate louder than normal. Then, maybe it is time for an upgrade and then purchase a CPAP machine that is more silent and more efficient for the purpose. The device air filter must be clean, because a dirty filter can also lead to a louder machine.
It is also possible to mask the noise by listening to white noise or by wearing earplugs. If nothing helps you may ultimately have to make a change and purchase one CPAP unit that operates more silently. One of the quietest CPAP machines available on the market is the DreamStation auto with a noise output of only 25.8 decibels. DreamStation Auto is offered by Philips Respironics and it is an extremely popular and highly rated CPAP unit. It is described as an ultra-quiet machine, with a useful therapy data tracking app and great pressure relief features.
Hopefully all these tips will help you enjoy a better night of sleep and required therapy. In the beginning it might be difficult to adjust to wearing a mask, and hearing a constant noise coming from the machine but over time you will get used to them. The market is abounding in accessories that will help your CPAP experience quieter, more comfortable, cleaner, etc. For example, patients who tend to sleep with their mouth open found that using a chin strap resolves the leak problems. Or, by using regularly a disinfecting machine, patients found that they are not struggling with the flu so often.
Stay updated with what’s new on the market and try to upgrade every time you can afford to. Often times, getting rid of your old mask is a life changer. You can find a mask that fits better, feels more comfortable, is more silent and offers you a better field of view. With one simple change, you can rule out so many bothersome details when it comes to CPAP therapy. Implement a few or all of these tips to enjoy a truly comfortable and efficient therapy.