a man standing before a large path going up a mountain that is actually a CPAP tube

Most Common Mistakes When Starting CPAP Therapy

It’s going to be easy!

I wish I had realized in the beginning that it was going to take time to adjust to therapy. I started off thinking it was going to be easy, and when the reality came that it wasn’t, I became discouraged and frustrated.

Your mask is too tight

So many people think the tighter your mask is, the better, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Having your mask too tight can cause pressure sores, skin breakdown, mask marks, and sore necks.

Your mask should be secure but not plastered to your face. Remember, it is NOT a gas mask.

Using the wrong soap (or not cleaning at all)

If you're like me, thinking an antibacterial soap is a good soap to use, you probably have run into the same issues I did. The cushion having a film residue, which then caused the cushion to break down faster. Or, maybe you weren’t instructed to clean your equipment frequently. I have had patients over the years who never cleaned their equipment.

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Wearing the wrong style or sized mask

Using the right mask style for you is so important to get the full benefit of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. If you have been using a nasal pillow or nasal mask and are a mouth breather, chances are that you are losing pressure out of your mouth.

The other common issue is not being properly fitted for your mask, resulting in the wrong size mask. Masks are just like shoes; you need the correct size.

Water gets into your tubing

A classic mistake when it comes to the machine is overfilling the humidifier chamber. So many people think to fill it to the top.

However, the issue with that is it can cause the water to get into your tubing. This leads me to the next problem – water in the tubing. You will know because of the sound of gurgling or the abrupt splash of water in your face.

Your machine won’t turn on

I wish I had a dollar for every phone call I get on this issue. It's likely that if you were dusting around your machine or moved the machine that the power cord came undone. It’s also common for the cord to come unplugged from the power pack. So check your power connection.

Start at the back of the CPAP and work your way down to the power pack and then to the outlet. The chances are that something has become loose or disconnected if you can’t turn your CPAP on.

I need to change the filter?

Yes, I have heard this so many times. Patients have no clue that their CPAP has a filter that needs to be replaced. I have pulled filters out of machines that are covered in dust and animal fur.

If you feel that your pressure has changed, check your filter. Not to mention, this should be something you are frequently checking.

Giving up too soon

CPAP therapy is an adjustment. Like I said above, I thought it was going to be easy. Boy, was I wrong. BUT this is something that people don’t do: give it time.

Too many people throw in the towel before they even give it a chance. The issue could be a need for a pressure change, a different mask, or simply talking to the doctor about the issue.

My best advice is don’t give up! My CPAP has been life-changing, and it can be for you too. Just give it a chance.

What advice do you have for others struggling with CPAP? Check out the questions in our forums and share your experiences with others.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SleepApnea.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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