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Jul - Aug 2019
The Newsletter for Bariatric Patient Education and Motivation

When Do I Need My CPAP Mask Adjusted?

By Marilyn Giordano, RN


People who have sleep apnea frequently stop breathing while sleeping because their airways become blocked. They suddenly wake from sleep gasping for air for a brief moment and without realizing it they fall back to sleep within seconds. The cycle repeats itself throughout the night which can cause sleep deprivation (copyright 2008 by Sauder Group UC).


People who think that they have sleep apnea or are diagnosed with sleep apnea often seek options for treatment. One well known treatment for people with sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP. This option uses a machine and is attached to a CPAP mask to increase airway pressure in the throat so the airway does not collapse during sleep.


Wearing a CPAP mask at night can help sleep apnea suffers to feel better and may reduce the risk of life threatening health issues like heart attack and hypertension, that are associated with this sleep disorder but many people find it difficult wearing a mask during sleep ( how-does-the-cpap-mask-work/).


When wearing a CPAP mask, you want to make sure that you know how to adjust your CPAP mask when needed.  


1. A leaky or non-fitting mask means that you are not getting the full air pressure needed. It may also irritate your skin causing bruising and if left untreated it can cause an open sore. It can also blow air into your eyes causing them to become dry and teary.


2. Try adjusting pads and straps to get a better fit.  If the device sits over your nose, make sure it is not too high over the bridge of your nose; this will prevent air from leaking into your eyes. If you unintentionally find yourself removing your CPAP mask at night, it is normal and it is most likely because your nose is congested. You want to make sure you have a good mask fit and add a CPAP-heated humidifier.


3. You may also find using a chin strap will hold your mask in place. If the CPAP headgear is too tight you may want to loosen the straps a bit.


4. Many times, CPAP headgear is tightened to prevent air leaks which is acceptable to a minimal degree but may also indicate that the CPAP mask may be too large, too old or the wrong style.


5. If your CPAP mask is not holding a seal and it is causing an air leak you may need to replace the cushion especially if your CPAP mask is about six to nine months old. A new cushion will make your CPAP mask fit tighter and therefore prevent an air leak.


Using a CPAP device can be frustrating but try adjusting your CPAP mask when needed and give it time. Make sure you stay with it. The treatment is important to avoiding the complications of sleep apnea. With time and patience, CPAP can positively affect your quality of life and health.