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August 18, 2020 7 min read

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?
OSA is a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly through the night. Breathing stops because the throat or "airway" collapses and prevents air from getting into the lungs. Sleep patterns are disrupted, resulting in excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day.

What are potential consequences of untreated OSA?
There is possible increased risk for:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Heart disease and heart attack
  3. Stroke
  4. Fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents
  5. Decreased quality of life

How does "CPAP" therapy work?
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) treats OSA by providing a gentle flow of positive-pressure air through a facial mask to keep the airway open during sleep. As a result:

  1. Breathing becomes regular during sleep
  2. Snoring stops
  3. Restful sleep is restored
  4. Quality of life is improved
  5. Risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and motor vehicle and work accidents is reduced


When do I need to use my machine?
Ideally you should use the machine whenever you are sleeping. This includes daytime naps.
The more you are able to use the machine when sleeping, the more benefit you can gain from the therapy
Long periods without using the machine means that y our sleep disorder is not being treated. This will lead to return of symptoms and may make it difficult to readjust to the therapy when restarted.

How long will it take to get used to using the mask and machine?
It can take a while to adjust to the therapy; however most people find they are sleeping more comfortably within the first 1-2 months.
Difficulty adjusting to therapy may be due to minor problems that can be easily fixed.
Go to the bed when you feel sleepy and put the machine on straight away, If you find you are lying awake tossing and turning, then get out of bed, have a warm non-caffeinated drink, partake in a relaxing activity like reading until you are feeling sleepy, and then return to bed.

I am a mouth breather, Will I be able to use a nasal mask or will I have to use a full face mask?
When obstructive sleep apnoea is untreated, the flow of air to the lungs is blocked. One of the body’s automatic responses to this blockage is to open the mouth in an attempt to increase air intake.
Once optimal pressure is being used for treatment, many people automatically close their mouth and commence breathing through their nose.
A chin strap may be utilized to assist in keeping the jaw closed when using a nasal mask.
Some people are more comfortable with the use of a full face mask which allows breathing through the nose, mouth or both.

Do I need to take the CPAP machine and mask to hospital?
YES, you should always take the machine to hospital with you. Your admission may be lengthened if you don’t use your treatment while in hospital.
If you are having a surgery you must advise the doctor/dentist that you are on CPAP therapy as this may change their management of you

I find that using the machine makes my nose run/block, what can I do?
It is common when commencing therapy to experience a small degree of nasal irritation resulting in a running nose/slight nasal congestion.  This is mainly due to the effect of cold air on the lining of the nose. For most people this settle once they are used to using the therapy.
If symptoms are prolonged then measures to warm the air in the tubing may be of benefit. Adjust the heated humidifier of your machine if available.
A nasal spray may be necessary. There are 4 types of nasal sprays – nasal decongestant, salt water sprays, nasal lubricants and inhaled steroids. NOTE: decongestants work quickly, but overuse can result in a return of congestion once they are ceased or used for long periods
If you have a head cold or chest infection, you may need to stop the therapy until the infection has cleared. NOTE: this may result in return of symptoms like you had prior to commencing therapy.
Sometimes I wake up and find I have removed the mask in my sleep. Why does this happen and what can I do to stop it?
Removing the mask in your sleep can be an indication that there is insufficient pressure to control your sleep apnoea. This maybe due to mask or mouth leaks, or because the pressure being delivered is inadequate.
Pressure maybe inadequate because the machine is faulty or there has been a change in your condition, like weight gain.
Other symptoms that may indicate inadequate pressure are snoring on treatment, waking feeling that you are not getting enough air while on the therapy or return of symptoms.
If you have the above listed symptoms or are removing the mask unknowingly in your sleep, please contact Blooms the Chemist Bundaberg or organize a review appointment.

I wake up with a dry mouth, what can I do?
Dry mouth may be caused by opening your mouth: adding a chin strap may help.
The coldness of delivered air may also be a factor, so warming the air can help. This can be achieved by adjusting the heated humidifier if available

I wake up with a bloated stomach and belch/pass a lot of wind in the morning, is this normal?
This may occur when commencing treatment and will settle as you get used to the treatment
The use of the RAMP function or addition of a chin strap may assist.
If the symptoms persist the pressure may need to be decreased slightly. NOTE: this is a common problem when significant weight loss has occurred.

I wake up with a sore nose/red marks on my face. What can I do?
This is generally caused by an ill fitting mask or an over tightened mask. Loosen the head straps and refit the mask and allow the air to inflate the air cushion. Then gently adjust the head straps in small increments to stop leaks
REMEMBER: an over tightened mask creates more leaks by preventing the cushion from inflating properly.

Device therapy tips

When should I start feeling better after beginning to use my CPAP?
Most people begin to feel better within the first week of use, though for some people it may take a little longer.

What if I still snore while using my CPAP?
Snoring while on CPAP should not occur. If it does, contact your doctor. Your pressure level might need to be adjusted.

If I need to be hospitalised for any reason, should I take my device with me and use it at night?
Yes. Also, if you are having surgery, it is important to tell the surgeon and the anaesthesiologist that you are using CPAP at home. You should also inform the doctor treating you for sleep apnoea that you are going into the hospital.

I just can’t seem to adjust to my CPAP therapy. What should I do?
Most people will adjust to CPAP in one to two weeks. Occasionally, it may take a little longer if, for example, you are very sensitive to the feel of the mask on your face or the sound of the device. Call our pharmacy and ask for any of our CPAP consultants if you continue to have problems beyond two weeks.

What is the role of tubing used with a therapy device?
The tubing is used to carry the air from the therapy device to the mask. You should clean and inspect your tubing at least once a week to make sure it is clean, pliable, and free of tears. If you think your tubing is ready for replacement, contact our CPAP consultants.

Masks tips
How can I tell when my mask is worn out?
Because masks are disposable, periodic replacement is needed when the mask shows signs of wear and tear. Inspect your mask for stiffness, cracks, or tears.

My eyes are sore, dry, irritated or swollen. What should I do?
The mask may be leaking into your eyes. Try pulling the mask away from your face and repositioning it. The mask may be too tight so try readjusting your headgear straps.
My mouth is dry. What should I do?
You may be sleeping with your mouth open. Try a chin strap. If a chin strap is not helpful, a full-face mask may be considered.  Contact our CPAP consultants if problem persists.

My mask seems to be leaking. What should I do?
Check all the connections. If your mask has a forehead arm or adjustment feature, try readjusting that first to correct the leak. If there is no improvement with the above steps, readjust the headgear straps. The mask should be as loose as possible while still creating a seal. A mask that is too tight against the face can cause leaks to occur by creating folds in the material. Talk to our CPAP consultants about trying another mask size or type if necessary.

My mask seems dirty. How can I clean it?

  1. Cleaning your mask is a very important part of mask maintenance. Here are three easy steps to keep your mask clean:
  2. The mask should be disassembled per the Instructions for Use. Wash the mask components in warm water with mild soap and air dry out of sunlight. Avoid soap with moisturisers. Do not use bleach, alcohol, or cleaning solutions containing alcohol.
  3. Wash your face thoroughly before using your mask. Avoid using skin lotions before putting on your mask.
  4. Inspect your mask. Replace the mask if the cushion becomes hardened or if any parts become damaged.

What cleaners should I not use when cleaning my mask?
Avoid soap with conditioners or moisturisers. Do not use bleach, alcohol, or cleaning solutions containing alcohol.

How do you know when you should replace your mask?
Replacing your equipment is an important part of being successful with your sleep therapy. There are several factors you need to watch for related to replacing your mask:

  1. seal deterioration in the mask,
  2. an improperly fitting mask, and
  3. a mask damaged by improper cleaning.