How to get used to your CPAP Machine
You’ve been tested and diagnosed with sleep apnea and are ready to begin your treatment. One major concern you have is adjusting to your CPAP machine. We have put together a list of tips, used and recommended by drivers with sleep apnea, to help you get acclimated and get the most out of your treatment.
Find the fit
Finding a proper fit for your mask is the most important step you can take to ensure you successfully adjust to the machine. When it comes to CPAP masks, there is no “one size fits all.” There is a multitude of different mask shapes and sizes available. The mask should fit snugly to your face but not pinch or cause pain. If you are experiencing either of those symptoms, contact your provider immediately to get fitted for a different mask.
A few drivers we spoke with mentioned that they tend to get dry skin or chafing from time to time from the mask, especially during winter. Chafing mostly happened to men because of facial hair. If the mask is causing this, one easy solution is to place diaper rash cream on the area. Remember, you need to avoid petroleum-based products, such as Vaseline, on the equipment. Diaper rash cream helps build a barrier between your skin and the equipment, preventing the mask from irritating your skin. Also, you can also purchase mask liners that are placed around the edges of the mask. However, these can be expensive, so if you would rather save some money, just take an old t-shirt and cut it to fit around the edges of the mask. This will create a barrier between the skin and the mask.
One of the biggest causes of irritation and sickness is the cleanliness of the machine. When you have a cold or flu, it is crucial to clean the machine thoroughly because those viruses can remain in the machine, infecting you again. In addition, bacteria can form on the mask and cause irritation to the skin. At a minimum, you should wipe your machine down every day. Sensitive skin baby wipes are perfect for this because the wipes don’t contain harsh chemicals and are easy to carry on the truck with you. You should thoroughly clean your machine with soap, such as Dawn dish soap and water or water and vinegar mixture at least once per week. Doing so will disinfect the equipment and help you avoid illness and irritation.
Practice makes perfect
No matter what you do in life, practice makes perfect. Using a CPAP is no different. For some, it only takes a night to adjust. For others, it can take a couple of months. If you are having trouble adjusting, one way to speed up the process is to practice wearing the mask during your down time. When you stop for the evening, put the mask on while you browse Facebook, watch a movie, read a book, or whatever it is you do. Start with short periods and begin working your way up. While this activity does not count as therapy time, it will help you acclimate to the mask much quicker.
Attitude makes a difference
If you go into treatment with a poor attitude, it’s likely you will have poor results. The CPAP machine isn’t a torture device, and you shouldn’t begin your treatment with that mindset. Understanding that you will have an adjustment period and keeping a positive attitude about the process will ensure your success. Living with a CPAP machine is a change, but the benefits of treatment outweigh the adjustment period.
The best thing you can do if you are having problems adjusting to your CPAP machine is to ask for help. You are new to the treatment and may not be aware of what is preventing you from adjusting. Reach out to your care provider and discuss what you are experiencing. Solving issues early will make the transition much smoother.