[VIDEO] - Side Effect & Common Problems Of CPAP
Below you can watch a video recently published on the CPAP Reviews Youtube channel. Also there is a transcription below.
Nick: Hi everyone. My name is Nick, and welcome to my channel, CPAP Reviews. For those of you who already subscribed, thanks for your support. I really appreciate it, and for those of you tuning in for the first time, this is an educational channel on snoring and sleep apnea and the products used to treat the condition. So, if you'd like to learn more, please consider subscribing and joining our little community.
Now, like most medical therapies, CPAP therapy does have a few side effects, unfortunately. Today, I'm going to be talking about three common side effects, and things we can do to help alleviate those side effects. Okay, so the first side effect we'll discuss is called aerophagia, and that's a fancy term for air building up in your tummy.
So, with aerophagia, instead of the air from the therapy going down into our lungs, it's basically going down our esophagus and into our stomach, building up in our stomach, and it can be quite uncomfortable. So, what's causing this? Well, it's normally caused by incorrect pressure levels.
So, if your pressure's excessively high and it's overwhelming your body's natural ability to breathe that air into the lungs, that can cause it. Alternatively, if the pressure's too low and we're still having apnea, those moments where you are having apnea and doing that gasping can cause that air to travel down our esophagus into our tummy also.
Another condition that can cause aerophagia is congestion. If you're really congested up in your sinuses, that can cause us to mouth-breathe and suck air in through our mouth, and that combined with the positive airway pressure can also lead to aerophagia as well. Now, with the mouth-breathing, if you are wearing a nasal mask and you're supposed to be breathing just through your nose, but over nighttime, you start breathing through your mouth as well, then that can also cause that air to travel down into your stomach.
Exhalation problems can also cause aerophagia. So, if you're struggling to breathe out against the pressure there because the pressure's too high, or your body's just not quite used to it yet, that can lead to you bringing that air into your stomach as well.
So, what are some of the solutions? Well, firstly, we need to have a look at our pressure settings and our pressure relief settings. So, we need to fine-tune this a little bit. If you are under high pressure, consider dropping the pressure down a little bit to see if that helps alleviate it. Also, try putting up the pressure relief settings on your device.
So, that's that exhalation relief that you get. Secondly, we want to have a look at our masks. If you're on a nasal mask, maybe consider trying a full face mask because there might be a chance that you're actually mouth-breathing over nighttime, and that's causing the air to go down into your stomach. Next, you can look at adjusting your sleep position, and sleeping a little bit of an angle upward, so a 30 to 40-degree angle should help improve that as well.
Lastly, we can try what's called a BiPAP machine, which is a machine that is a lot easier to use compared to your standard positive airway pressure devices. Now, the next side effect we're going to talk about is probably the most common, and that's a dry nose and throat. Really common.
Nearly everyone who tries CPAP therapy has this at one point or another. Now, what's happening here is basically all that airflow is just drawing out your upper airway. Really quite simple. So, the CPAP machines do have humidifiers, so it's really important that we learn how to adjust those humidification levels and our heated tube levels if we have a heated tube.
Dry Throat & Nose
So, if we're dry in the throat and the nose, obviously we want to add more moisture to the air which normally means increasing the humidity levels, and also normally increasing the heated tube level as well, especially if we're in a cold climate. But you really need to sort of tinker with those settings and make sure that they're working as optimally as possible if we are getting a dry nose and throat. Another thing you might want to look at is preheating your humidifier. So, that's actually making sure the water that's in your chamber is nice and hot before you start using the therapy.
We also want to look at the mask we're wearing. So, if we are wearing a nasal mask and we're breathing through our mouth over nighttime, that is going to cause a lot of dryness because that air will be shooting out of our mouth.
Next, if you don't have a heated tube, consider going out and buying an aftermarket heated tube or a heated tube if your machine can take a heated tube system. Heated tubes are great; they're the way to go. So, make sure you look at that. A great aftermarket heated tube is called Hybernite, and I'll put a link in the description of the video where you can pick that up from. All right, and the last thing is again, with the CPAP pressures. The higher the pressure, the more it's going to dry you out. So, we really need to aim at bringing that pressure down as low as we possibly can while still maintaining control of our sleep apnea. It's really easy to do, but you really need to learn that stuff.
Please, just don't go and take your MD or your GP or your sleep text word for it. Don't take our word for it. It's so easy for you to look at your own data over a week, in your home, and then use that to guide you as to where your pressure needs to be. As long as your apnea, hypopnea index, and your AHI is less than 5, you can keep bringing that pressure down. It's as simple as that. Just use that as your guide, all right? It's so easy. AHI less than 5 and you're on 13, try it at 12. If it's still, AHI less than 5, try it at 11, and you can keep bringing that pressure down as long as that number is less than 5. Real simple way; so simple sleep apnea.
Dry & Sore Eyes
The last side effect we'll have a talk about is dry sore eyes, and this is normally caused by mask leaks. So, instead of the mass sealing well, there's air leaking out, and over the course of a night, it's causing our eyes to dry out and overwhelming the eyes natural ability to stay nice and moist and lubricated. So, what can we do? Well, I think the first thing you want to look at is how you're obviously adjusting your mask, and maybe do what we call a mask-seal test before you actually go to sleep. So, that's actually running your machine at a higher pressure while you adjust it, so that when you fall asleep and you have your ramp period or the machine ramps up automatically to adjust for your sleep apnea, you know you've already kind of got it set for a higher pressure.
Secondly, we want to be, obviously, cleaning our masks. Making sure that seal is nice and fresh, and that we're replacing it at the recommended rate or or near about, which is probably two to three times a year. The longer you have that mask seal, the more it's going to start to leak over time. That's basically how it works, and obviously, your headgear and other mask components as well. So, make sure your mask is always kept nice and fresh, that you're adjusting it correctly, and that you're running that mask-seal test.
You can also look at getting some mask liners, which are like material liners that go sort of underneath your mask and then your mask goes on the top of them. Just Google CPAP mask liners and there'll be heaps that pop up there for you as well. If you're still not having much luck, you can look at getting some sort of artificial tears from your pharmacy. Make sure you get those nice thick ones. They're kind of like gel-based ones and they work really well as well to alleviate that dryness, and just help protect those eyes when you are sleeping. Obviously, turn off any fans, air conditioners and things like that as well.
All right, guys, well, that's it for today. If you are having some other side effects from your CPAP therapy, I'd love to hear about them. If you've also found ways to overcome those side effects, I'm sure the little community that we've built would love to hear it because you can guarantee that there's someone out there reading that, who's going to be suffering from the same problems. As always, thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed it, and have yourself a great day. See you later. Bye.
Also see our page on buying a sleep apnea without a sleep study.