CPAP Mask Problems? 12 Best Solutions
So you’ve had a stressful day at work, and all you want is a good night’s sleep to forget about the stress. But you come home to find something wrong with your CPAP mask.
Before you throw your mask in the trash, remember – Health Sqyre is looking out for you! Try these simple tips on solving your CPAP mask problems to go back to your peaceful sleep.
Problem: Why won’t my mask stay on my face?
Either your mask is trying to flee from your breath or it’s one of the following:
Your mask may have fallen off if you move around in your sleep often. If you aren’t already, you can switch to a full face mask that might stay on your face better. Using chin straps can also help to hold your mask in place.
Your mask may be leaking, preventing a good seal between the mask and your face. Check out our detailed blog post on how to deal with mask leaks.
You may have gotten tangled in your tubing, pulling it off during your sleep. One solution to this would be to hang your tubing over the headboard of your bed. Another solution, again, would be to use a full face mask or a chin strap.
You may have removed the mask during the night because of discomfort, like nose congestion. If you find that your nose is congested, using a humidifier will help decongest your nose! See “I can’t breathe through my nose, what do I do now?” below for more information.
If you just don’t feel comfortable with your mask at all, see “I can’t get used to my CPAP mask, what do I do?” below.
Otherwise, it may be the case that your mask isn’t fitted properly or isn’t the best choice for you. Find the best mask for you using our quiz!
Problem: Why are my mouth and nose so dry when I use my CPAP mask?
Are you an open-mouthed sleeper and do you use a nasal or nasal pillow mask?
Try using a chin strap to hold your jaw closed while you sleep and prevent a dry mouth.
Problem: Why do I feel claustrophobic?
Feeling claustrophobic while using CPAP masks is common, and it will take some time getting used to the mask.
Try wearing your mask, unconnected to the machine, for short durations while you are awake. First hold the mask up to your face without the straps. If you feel comfortable, use the straps and put on the mask. Practice getting comfortable with your mask while you watch TV, read a book, search the internet, knit – whatever will get your mind off of the mask. Then try using the mask connected to the hose, then to the machine with a low-pressure. See “I can’t get used to my CPAP mask” for more information.
Problem: My CPAP mask hurts, what do I do?
You may be over tightening your mask! This will cause pressure sores or skin irritation. Try loosening the straps on your mask. If this problem persists, then your CPAP mask is probably too small for you. Check our quiz to find the right size mask for you.
There is also a chance that you may be allergic to your mask if you use an older CPAP mask. Most masks today are latex free, but that may not be the case for older versions of masks. If you do experience an allergic reaction to a mask that you wore that night, contact your doctor.
There are also different accessories that you can use to resolve pain that you may be experiencing while wearing your mask:
- Mask liners can prevent skin irritation and mask leaks. Placed right onto your mask cushion, the mask liners absorb the oil and moisture your face is producing while you sleep, and they also resolve noisy mask leaks.
- The Gecko nasal pad is a gel pad that is applied to your noise bridge under your mask. It helps reduce irritation on your nose bridge and mask leak. The nasal pad is especially useful if you have a narrow nose bridge.
Problem: I can’t breathe through my nose, what do I do?
Is your nose congested?
Try turning up the heat and humidity on your humidifier, or try using decongestants.
You can also switch to a full face CPAP mask so you can breathe through your mouth without waking up with a dry mouth.
Problem: I can’t get used to my CPAP mask, what do I do?
You may feel uncomfortable wearing your CPAP mask now, but don’t worry – after some time and practice, you’ll be sleeping in no time!
Follow these steps to get accustomed to your mask:
- Wear your mask while you’re awake for short periods of time.
- Now wear the mask connected to your machine while you’re awake. Wear it while you’re watching TV or reading as a distraction. Make sure to start off with a lower pressure.
- If you’re comfortable, use your CPAP machine while you’re sleeping, even during naps. The more you wear your mask, the more you’ll get used to it!
Remember, practice makes perfect!
You can also use the “ramp” feature on your CPAP machine, which starts with a low air pressure and gradually increases to the prescribed pressure while you fall asleep.
And don’t forget to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed! Relaxation exercises can also help you fall asleep more easily.
If you’re still feeling uncomfortable, you can try using a BiPAP machine or an APAP machine, which monitor your breathing on a breath by breath basis and adjust the airflow automatically.
Problem: Why are my nostrils sore when I use my CPAP nasal pillow mask?
You can get sore nostrils when your nasal pillow mask isn’t fitted correctly in your nose, causing your mask to leak.
To fix this problem, turn the base of the nasal pillow mask so that the pillows are angled at a better position for you nose.
If your nasal pillow mask continues to leak, consider changing to a larger mask.
Problem: Why is my CPAP mask making a whistling noise?
Your mask may make whistling noises if the small group of holes on your mask are clogged up.
These holes are called exhalation ports, and they let out the carbon dioxide that you exhale.
To unclog these holes, use a toothpick. Remember to clean your mask once every so often to prevent CPAP mask problems!
Problem: Why do I have dry, swollen, or irritated eyes?
This means that you aren’t getting the full air pressure that you need.
To fix this problem, adjust the mask pads and straps. Make sure not to over-tighten, as this will cause skin irritation or pressure sores. If you have to keep adjusting the straps of your mask over and over again, the mask is not the right size for you. Take this quiz to find the right size mask!
Also, make sure to lower the mask so that it isn’t sitting too high on your nose and creating a mask leak.
It could also be the case that your mask cushion is worn out, in which case you should replace them.
Problem: Why do I feel bloated or full?
You may feel bloated or full if your air pressure is at a high setting, causing you to swallow too much air.
In this case, contact your doctor so you can change the air pressure settings.
Don’t choose the wrong mask.
Let our algorithms and mask specialists find the best two masks for you.
About the Author
Dr. Nicholas Walter, MD is a Geriatric Medicine Specialist in Phoenix, AZ who has over 7 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from the School of Radiologic Technology at Saint Josephs Medical School in 2013. He is affiliated with Banner Boswell Medical Center.