Why Do I Feel Worse After CPAP Treatment: What To Do
Approximately 22 million people in the US suffer from sleep apnea. About 80 percent of these cases are undiagnosed. The use of a CPAP machine is designed to alleviate apnea. so why do some people feel worse after CPAP treatment?
Momentary pauses in breathing during sleep characterize this disorder. The duration of these pauses varies between a few seconds to even a minute. This may occur up to 30 times an hour.
Sleep apnea causes the individual to not get enough sleep, thus impeding their daytime functions.
While the individual may not know that they have the condition, the disorder causes them to have deep snores as well as frequent loud snorts during the night.
As a result, their partner’s sleep may be deeply affected. A past study revealed that a lot of bed partners had been driven away from the bedroom due to their significant other’s apnea symptoms.
The most common treatment for treating sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP).
It uses a machine comprising of a hose and mask/nosepiece to deliver constant and steady airflow to the individual during the night.
This ensures that they do not go without air, thus countering apnea symptoms.
However, some individuals have complained that they feel worse after CPAP. This article will discuss what to do about it.
Why You Feel Worse After CPAP
There are a lot of reasons to why you may feel like your CPAP therapy is not effective. Let us look at some of these problems and what you can do about them:
1. The Wrong Style or Size of CPAP Mask
It is essential that you work with your doctor as well as CPAP supplier to ensure that you get a mask that fits you appropriately.
Facial features are different in everyone. Therefore, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of mask. As such, if you are having problems with your mask, you should consider:
Trying a Different Mask
CPAP masks come in a wide variety of styles. For example, some are designed to cover your nose and mouth, with straps stretching across your cheeks and forehead. This might make some people feel claustrophobic.
Nonetheless, they are appropriate for people who tend to breathe through their mouths while sleeping. They also do not slip out in case you move a lot during sleep.
Other masks come with nasal pillows that fit under your nose so that less of the face is being covered. In addition to being less cumbersome, they allow you to wear your glasses or even read with the mask on.
Choosing the Right Size
There are different sizes of CPAP masks. As such, do not get one without confirming that it is the right fit for you.
Nonetheless, most of them are adjustable. As such, ask your doctor or provider to show you how to adjust the mask.
2. Having Difficulty Getting Used to CPAP
Having a contraption on your face is something that you will need to get used to. As such, the initial feelings of discomfort are normal.
When you get your CPAP mask for the first time, try and wear it for short periods at a time while you are awake.
After a while, wear it with the mask and hose with the device switched on. After getting used to the feeling, start using the device any time you sleep. This will help you get accustomed to having something on your face.
3. Hard Time Tolerating Induced Air
To counter this problem, get a machine that has the ‘ramp’ feature. This feature allows you to start with low air pressure. The device will then gradually adjust the air pressure to the appropriate levels as you fall asleep.
If you are still having problems, you can talk to your doctor about changing to a machine that constantly adjusts the air pressure as you are sleeping.
For example, the bi-level positive airway pressure machine (BPAP) works to deliver more pressure when you inhale, and less as you exhale.
4. Dry or Stuffy Nose
If you have this problem, check to see whether your mask fits you well. Masks that have leaks can dry out your nose. If you must tighten your straps to prevent leakage, there is a good chance your mask doesn’t fit.
However, if that is not the problem, then consider getting a CPAP machine that has a heated humidifier. This feature allows you to set the level of humidification in your mask so that you do not run dry.
If that is not possible, you can use a nasal saline spray before getting into bed, so it keeps your air passages moist.
5. Feelings of Claustrophobia
This is yet another reason for practicing using your mask while you are awake.
Start by holding the mask up to your face without any of the other parts. Once you get used to it being close to your face, try and strap it on.
When you get the hang of it, attach the hose but hold the mask on your face without the straps. Turn on the device. Now, try and do this with the straps on. Finally, attempt to sleep with the mask and device on.
You can also utilize exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation to help lower the anxiety that comes whenever you want to put on the CPAP mask.
If all of that doesn’t work, talk to your doctor and CPAP provider to help you choose a mask that does not cause intense feelings.
6. Leaky Mask, Skin Irritation, Or Pressure Sores
An ill-fitting mask will cause air leaks thus ensuring you do not get enough air pressure. Additionally, the leaking air might irritate your skin, or blow into your eyes, making them dry and heavy.
If you can, adjust to get it to fit properly. Also, talk to your provider, so they look for a new mask for you, especially if you have had changes in weight.
For skin sores, go for masks that have nasal pillows. These will cushion the edges of the mask against your nose. However, if the sores get worse, ensure to report to your doctor.
7. Difficulty Finding Sleep
Again, practicing by wearing your mask during the day will help you get used to it so you can fall asleep much easier at night. Additionally, use a machine that adjusts your air pressure automatically to alleviate some of the discomforts.
Also, look into good sleeping habits. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol before bedtime. Regular exercise is also recommended to make your body crave for sleep.
You can also look into relaxation techniques such as meditation or even a warm bath before going to bed.
8. Dry Mouth
If you are used to breathing through your mouth at night, or just sleeping with your mouth open, it is probable that some CPAP devices can worsen dry mouth.
To mitigate this situation, consider utilizing a chin strap to help keep your mouth shut. It will also reduce the air leak of you are wearing a nasal mask.
You may also consider getting a CPAP mask that covers both your mouth and nose. Consider getting one that has a heated humidifier.
9. Unintentionally Removing Your Mask at Night
It is not uncommon for sleep apnea patients to remove their masks during their sleep. This often happens to people who tend to move a lot during their sleep. If this is the case, then a full face mask will suit you better.
Another reason why people remove their masks is nasal congestion. If so, consider getting a heated humidifier to help clear the congestion, so you do not involuntarily remove the mask.
A chin strap should also be beneficial in ensuring the mask does not come off.
However, if despite your efforts, you just can’t help but remove the mask, consider setting the alarm for a certain time at night to check whether the mask and machine are still on.
If, in time, you find that you are keeping the mask on for longer, progressively set the alarm for later hours in the night.
10. Bothersome Noise
Fortunately, most CPAP machines of being produced today make little to no noise. However, if you find your machine’s noise to be bothersome, consider checking its air filter to ensure that it is clean and unblocked.
A blockage can result in the noise. As such, ask your provider for instructions on how to properly clean your device.
If cleaning doesn’t help, ask your doctor or provider to check the machine to ensure that it is functioning correctly.
If the device is okay, but you just can’t stand the noise, consider wearing earplugs. A white noise sound machine can also help in masking the noise.
Additionally, you can try and place the machine as far away from the bed.
If You Feel Worse After CPAP Treatment, Patience Is Key
If you feel worse after CPAP, there’s no way around it; it will take time getting used to your CPAP device. Nonetheless, it is important that you stick to it, not only for your health but for your partner’s quality of sleep too.
Ensure that you work with a doctor to help you get a CPAP device that is the best fit for you. In time, you will get accustomed to it. This will result in a better overall quality of life since you will be getting sufficient sleep.
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