Sleep Apnea sufferers are also at higher risk for stress, anxiety, and depression for a number of reasons, including low self esteem, and poor sleep when their machine isn’t functioning properly. Common side effects can also pop up even if your CPAP use was going well previously. CPAP support
Keeping a support system on hand to help you troubleshoot any technical problems or help you deal with the physical and mental stress of using a CPAP will help you maintain your sleep quality and overall help.
Below I’ll discuss three types of support systems you can utilize and point out some of the Do’s and Don’ts of CPAP use to ensure your continued success.
Professional and Technical Support Systems
When it comes to technical support, your first line of support should be the manufacturer of your CPAP machine. While doctors and sleep technicians are extremely knowledgeable about most CPAP machines, they won’t necessarily know all the fine technical details. Most CPAP manufacturers have excellent troubleshooting guides on their websites and have easily contactable customer support. So, if your machine is acting up or you suspect damage, contact the manufacturer right away.
If you suspect your CPAP is not appropriately treating your Sleep Apnea or you’re still having symptoms of sleep deprivation, like daytime sleepiness and fatigue, it’s important to contact your sleep specialist or primary care physician. While inappropriately treated Sleep Apnea can certainly cause these issues, it’s important to investigate other reasons why you’re not getting quality sleep. This can range from issues like stress, secondary sleep disorders, or certain medical conditions.
If you’re experiencing excessive side effects from using your CPAP, you will almost always be recommended to speak to a sleep technician at the laboratory where your sleep study was performed. Sleep technicians are trained to guide patients through the adjustment period and have dozens of ways to help you reduce common side effects such as dry mouth, cracked lips, and chronic lung irritation. Technicians are usually available by phone, email, or appointment.
If using a CPAP is increasing your stress or causing a decline in your mood, speaking with a mental health professional, such as a therapist, can teach you techniques to help you reduce the effect CPAP has on your mental health. Psychologists use a wide range of clinically validated methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy to help you adjust.
Because sleep apnea sufferers are at an elevated risk for depression and anxiety, it’s important to speak with your doctor about getting additional medical help if your mental health starts affecting your health, safety, and wellbeing.
Personal Support System
When using a CPAP, your personal support system will consist of a small group of individuals that you have a close relationship with and that understand your sleep disorder and treatment. These individuals could be a partner, family member, friend or coworker.
The people in your personal support system should have a good understanding of how having sleep apnea and using a CPAP both positively and negatively affects you and are welcome to offer emotional support if things get difficult.
It’s important to note that the people in your personal support system shouldn’t be relied upon for troubleshooting technical issues and side effects. Leave those up to the professionals!
One of the most useful support systems is community support from groups and forums dedicated to other Sleep Apnea sufferers. This might include social media groups, online message boards, or Meetup groups. Community support groups are excellent because the members know exactly what you’re going through. They can also offer lots of helpful tips and tricks to keep your CPAP use going smoothly.
The Do’s and Don’ts of CPAP Use
- Don’t use incompatible parts and supplies with your machine. Examples include using inappropriate tubing or filters.
- Don’t use tap water in your humidifier. Not only can the minerals in tap water damage your machine but it can also raise your risk of developing lung infections. Only use distilled water purchased from a store.
- Don’t change your mask without consulting with a professional first. Not all masks are created equal and some masks may not be appropriate or effective for you.
- Don’t give up on using your CPAP before consulting with a professional first. Sleep experts have an arsenal of techniques to help you get used to sleeping with your PAP. If you’re finding it impossible to fall asleep after one week of use, speak with a sleep specialist or technician.
- Don’t attempt to fix your CPAP without speaking to the manufacturer or your sleep care team first. Making any alterations to your machine can cause additional damage and void your warranty. Always adjust or fix your machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do give yourself 4-6 weeks of time to adjust to using your CPAP. Research has shown that sleeping at least 4 hours a night with your CPAP for at least 4 weeks massively increases your chance of using CPAP successfully.
- Do thoroughly clean your machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions at least once a week. Cleaning your CPAP machine will keep it functioning normally and will also reduce your chance of getting an infection.
- Do change out your filters consistently and in accordance with the manufacturer. Changing the filters will help keep your machine free of debris and will prevent debris from entering your lungs.
- Do wipe down your mask daily to prevent dirt and microorganisms buildup. Most masks can be cleaned with dish soap and water but ensure you are following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do speak to your doctor if you are still experiencing apneas or excessive daytime sleepiness. Your machine may need a pressure adjustment.
- Do speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing any negative side effects like dry or sore throat, nose bleeds, cracked lips, or chest infection.