Getting used to your machine — whether it be continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) or bilevel — is an important stage in your sleep apnea journey. Some of the more frequently asked questions (FAQs) on how to get used to PAP therapy can be found below.
Q. Why is my machine shutting off at night?
A. A number of reasons could be responsible — here are the most common:
- Make sure your therapy device is turned on. If you are experiencing high leak and Smart Start/Stop is turned on, it’s possible the device is stopping due to this. Try turning off Smart Start/Stop.
- Check that the power plug is fully and correctly inserted in the device. When it is correctly inserted, the power button will light up.
- Ensure that no blankets or other objects are covering the power supply unit.
- Check whether the filter is blocked. If so, replace the filter.
- Check that the therapy device’s humidifier tub is fully inserted.
- Make sure you’re not using the Start/Stop button to light the LCD during the night, as this will stop your therapy.
- If there’s a message on the screen, follow the instructions to clear the message or contact your equipment supplier.
- Try unplugging the device, then plugging it in again.
- From time to time there may be power disturbances that cause the device to power down. Check to see if there are other devices that may have powered off at the same time (eg, alarm clock).
Q. I’m experiencing a dry throat or nasal congestion while using my device. What are my options?
A. Try using a humidifier. Using a PAP machine or other sleep apnea therapy device can sometimes lead to drying and congestion of the throat, nose, and mouth because the airflow generated by the machine is often greater than what your body is accustomed to humidifying on its own. Humidifiers and heated tubes can increase the amount of humidity in the “inspired air” (the air which surrounds you before you inhale it) and may help counteract these symptoms and help make therapy more comfortable.
Talk to your healthcare professional about a nasal decongestant. Nasal allergies and congestion may result in “mouth breathing”' during the night, which dries the throat and mouth and can negatively affect your sleep apnea therapy. Talk to your doctor to find out if using a nasal decongestant or antihistamine may help alleviate this issue.
Talk to your doctor or equipment supplier about chinstraps. Sometimes, during sleep apnea treatment, people unknowingly open their mouths during the night, resulting in a dry throat and mouth. Using a chinstrap may help keep your mouth closed while you sleep.
Talk to your doctor about switching to a full face mask. Chronic nasal allergies or other nasal problems such as a deviated septum can make breathing through your nose difficult. A full face mask, which lets you breathe through your mouth during the night, could be the answer.
Q. I’m finding it hard to fall asleep when using my therapy device. Can you help?
A. All of your machine settings should be set according to the relevant user guide information, and should be discussed and confirmed with your doctor or sleep specialist. When this has been done, you can also consider the following solutions:
- Try using the "Ramp" option on your therapy device. Designed to make therapy more comfortable, the Ramp feature helps you ease into therapy each night by setting your device at a lower pressure than prescribed and slowly ramping up to your full therapy pressure over a maximum of 45 minutes. Using Ramp gives your machine more time to gradually reach your prescribed therapy pressure — and gives you more time to comfortably fall asleep. Always talk to your healthcare professional before making any changes to your therapy device settings.
- Try using an APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) therapy device. ResMed’s AutoSet™ therapy devices, are suitable for those whose pressure needs vary throughout the night. These devices automatically adjust pressure throughout the night to suit your unique breathing needs. Discuss this option with your doctor before making any changes to your therapy.
- Try the EPR feature. ResMed’s S9™ therapy device has an Expiratory Pressure Relief (EPR) feature that decreases pressure as you exhale. This can make breathing out feel more natural and comfortable. Ask your doctor or equipment provider whether an EPR function can be used.
- Remember, it takes time to get used to treatment! It takes a while for most people to get comfortable using a PAP machine and mask every night. Wearing your mask with your therapy device running during the day, for example while watching TV, may help you get used to it. Be very patient with yourself.
If you continue to experience difficulties falling asleep using your therapy device, check out WakeUpToSleep.com for more useful sleep apnea therapy tips and advice.
Q. How can I stop bloating?
A. Some people may experience bloating when using a PAP device, particularly when first starting treatment. All of your machine settings should be set according to the user guide information, and should be discussed and confirmed with your healthcare professional. Subject to your user guide and a discussion with your healthcare professional, you can consider the following solutions:
- Try to avoid swallowing air. If you’re new to sleep apnea therapy, you may be swallowing air rather than breathing normally, which can cause bloating. When using your therapy device, try to breathe as normally as possible.
- Try using an APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) therapy device. ResMed’s AutoSet™ therapy devices, are designed to better accommodate people whose pressure needs change throughout the night. These therapy devices automatically adjust the therapy pressure to suit your personal breathing patterns and, in the case of bloating, help reduce the periods when the pressure provided is more than what is necessary for effective therapy. Discuss this option with your doctor before making any changes to your therapy.
Q. How can I alleviate ear or sinus discomfort caused by therapy?
A. Nasal allergies and congestion may result in breathing through your mouth during the night, which can dry out your mouth and throat.
We strongly recommend that you always refer to your user guide when it comes to adjusting your therapy settings, whatever the medical equipment is (mask, machine or other therapy device). With this in mind, you can also try using an APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) therapy device.
ResMed's AutoSet devices are designed for people whose pressure needs change throughout the night, and automatically adjust therapy pressures to suit your unique breathing needs. This can allow for a lower overall pressure. Discuss this with your sleep specialist or doctor before making any changes to your therapy.
If none of the above help or apply to you, please visit your healthcare professional to have your treatment reviewed.
Do you have a question about getting used to CPAP that isn’t addressed here? Contact us.