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How to make friends with your CPAP machine

Getting to know your CPAP therapy can be awkward and uncomfortable, just like it can be when you are getting to know a perfect stranger.

However, the benefits to a positive relationship with your sleep apnea treatment far outweigh the risks of untreated sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic sleep disorder that requires treatment, and there is no cure for it. Though CPAP side effects may dog your initial efforts at therapy, they can be addressed.

CPAP is still the most commonly prescribedof all the sleep apnea treatment options. It’s in your best interest to give your treatment for sleep apneathe benefit of the doubt, even if, at first, you aren’t feeling the love. Over time, your CPAP therapycan go from being a perfect stranger in your life to a favored sidekick.

Here are some ways to “make friends” with your CPAP machine and equipment.

Spend quality time together

Wear yourmask at othertimes

If you have some time during the day, when you’ll be doing something quiet like watching TV, wear yourCPAP mask (without the therapy) to get used to the way it feels on your face. CPAP acclimation problems are typically temporary; eventually you do adjust to wearingthe mask.

Be loyal and regular

Wear your mask and use your machine every night, and use it for as long as you are able. At first, this might be only half time, but eventually you’ll achieve full-time usage. Taking it slow is acceptable.

If you travel, there’s no reason not to take it with you. Most CPAP machines come with travel cases and are portable and lightweight. Invest ina portable CPAP machine if you’re frequently away from a reliable electrical source.

Don’t keep secrets

Be honest

It’s almost impossible to mischaracterizeyour usage these days;the new CPAP machines come withwireless remote tracking to measure your complianceand record therapy readings.

Still, if you aren’t using your machine as much as you know you should, ask yourself why. And then, ask for help. Most problems with CPAP usage can be fixed with the help of a savvy sleep specialist.They won’t mind answering your questions. Many of these people are CPAP users, themselves. They get it!

Be open about your CPAP problems

Don’t be ashamed if your first weeks using CPAP aren’tperfect. It can take a couple of mask trials and multiple adjustments in pressure settings and even delivery systems to find the perfect match.You should be comfortable, your mask should fit, and you should have fewto no problems using it on a nightly basis. If this isn’t the case, ask for help.

Sometimes people will be afraid to admit that they’ve forgotten operatinginstructionsgiven to them at the sleep clinic, or haveconfused the steps for turning on the machine.

Even if yoursleep clinic provided diagrams or videos to help you at home, if you can’t make sense of them, call your doctor and get more training.

Bring a loved one with you, if that helps.

Listen closely

When something’s wrong, look into it

If your machine readings suddenly show problems with leakage or higher-than-acceptable apnea counts, don’t just ignore these changes; beproactive and ask for advice and support.

Also, ask for help if any parts are not working right. If anything makes a funny noise, or you feel air leaking out of the mask or the tubing where it shouldn’t be, or if your nightstand is flooded every morning, call your durable medical equipment (DME) provider. They have mostreplacement parts and CPAP filters available and are trained to help you with mask fit or compliance issues.

Listen to yourintuition

Ideally, over a few weeks’ time, you should feel more energized during the day and symptoms of other health concerns might also find some relief. However:

  • If you notice you have more gas and feel more bloated, this is a sign you are swallowing air. This is a problem with a solution. Ask for help.

  • If you have irritated red markings on your face every morning, this is a sign the mask is too tight or ill fitting. This is also a problem with a solution. Ask for help.

  • If you feel even more sleepy during the day, it could mean your pressure settings are inadequate. Talk to your doctor about any continuing physical complaints following the use of your CPAP that you feel should have improved.

Be a thoughtful user

Practice mindfulness

Be precise about positioningthe mask. Learnto work withCPAP tubing to preventtangles.Don’t overstretch headgear purposefully. Keep a calendar for replenishing CPAP supplies. Use the ramp feature, whenavailable. Every morning, make sure allis in working order forthe nextnight.

If you struggle, find a support system. Users who’ve been in the trenches for years have invaluable experience they would gladlyshare with you.

Be a sleephygiene hero

If you really want to get a good night’s sleep, you should think about improving your overall sleep environment and sleep habits. Treating sleep apnea involves more than just using the therapy. Poor sleep hygiene can be to blame for many sleep problems. For instance:

  • Is your bedroomproperly dark and quiet?

  • Did you put away your cell phone before bedtime?

  • Are you still enjoying late-night meals, bedtime smokes, and evening cocktails, even though theycan disruptsleep?

  • Is the room too warm or too cool?

  • Is your pet keeping you up all night?

Practicing good sleep hygiene allows yourCPAP therapy a much greater chance of success.

Be faithful

Don’t give up!

Your CPAP is not a sometimes therapy, but one you need every time you sleep. Sleep apnea doesn’t go away on its own, but can get much worse, requiring a therapy like CPAP for treatment. But it can’t help you ifyou don’t use it.

CPAPcan take some time to adjust to,however. It’s the rare patient who is a perfect user after just one night. The transition into CPAP therapy is generally a window of around 90 days. This is a more reasonable graceperiod for those new to using CPAP. If you can stay faithful to it, thereality is this:the longer you use it, the more successful you will be in both treating your sleep apnea and feeling better overall.

Infidelity is dangerous

Sleep apneamachines are set to specific pressures as determined by individualusers; somebody else’s CPAP settings are not going to be any good for your sleep apnea. You could actually do more harm than good by using anything but the CPAP equipment and suppliesgiven to you by your sleep specialist.

In addition, serious hygiene problems cancome with using other people’s equipment. If you are struggling withCPAP, go to your sleep specialist first, not your friends or family. You aren’t simply “stuck with” your therapy. If it’s not working for you, your doctor can help youfind a better, safer match.

Practice the golden rule

Do unto your machine as…

This means following a protocol for cleaning CPAP and performing regular maintenance. It also means being aware that some parts of your system require replacement and replenishment. In addition, be a guardian angel and keep your sleep apnea machine out of the reach of pets and small children.

Remember why you came togetherin the first place

If you want to live a healthier, longer life, you can do so with the help of sleep apnea solutions such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The risks of untreated sleep apnea far exceed any challenges you may experience while adjusting to your treatment.

Be kind to your therapy because it is not only helping you correct your sleep breathing disorder, but it is also going to offer you relief for related problems (such as daytime sleepiness or high blood pressure ) and may even prevent other even more serious ones (such as depression, brain damage, or heart disease).

There’s so much you can do to achieve success using CPAP as your sleep apnea treatment, but it still requires you to be proactive with your therapy. With patience and vigilance, you will adapt and mayeventually never want to sleep without your machine.

Further Reading

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