A CPAP machine is used by those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. By increasing the air pressure in the individual's throat it allows them to breathe with greater ease whilst preventing the airways from collapsing.
Though there are many benefits of using a CPAP machine, there are also several side effects associated with its use. These side effects can differ in severity though most are typically minor. Some may be felt more by those that are new to using a CPAP machine. Acting upon any of the following issues will allow you to establish the necessary solutions.
Discomfort or irritation is typically the result of an incorrectly sized CPAP mask. There are many styles of masks available although some will have a bulkier construction than others. When in contact with your skin you may experience some irritation.
For some, the hose may restrict them from enjoying a comfortable night's sleep. If you are experiencing any sort of discomfort, it may be worth trying a different style mask.
Aerophagia refers to the swallowing of air and is often caused when the pressure of the machine is too high. Essentially, the air enters your stomach through your esophagus instead of your upper airways and can lead to bloating and gas. To resolve this issue, you will need to alter the pressure of the CPAP.
Nasal Congestion or Nose Bleeds are another common side effect. These issues are caused by the pressure and constant flow of air into your nasal passages. It may also leave your mouth feeling a little dry.
Some users struggle with the feeling of claustrophobia when wearing a CPAP mask particularly if it is rather snug fitting. This issue will likely resolve itself as you become familiar with wearing the mask. If it doesn’t you may wish to consult your doctor.
If your CPAP machine isn’t cleaned regularly, it may lead to the development of lung or sinus infections.
Other possible side effects include; headaches, possible mask leaks, and bloating.
Does wearing a CPAP cause hair loss?
There is a possibility that wearing a CPAP may cause hair loss. This is because several sections of the mask will be in direct contact with your head. As the mask rubs against your hair, it produces friction which may result in hair loss.
The severity of this issue will be heightened for those who are prone to moving around a lot as they sleep. Essentially, this increased movement will create more friction between your hair and the mask.
Implementing minor tweaks to your mask provides a viable solution. You may wish to invest in mask and strap liners which will provide a protective layer between your hair and your mask whilst reducing the pressure and friction that is created.
Alternatively, you can wear a hair wrap that will cover your head so that the mask rubs against the material rather than your hair. It can also be beneficial to follow an effective hair care regime as this will strengthen the condition of your hair and as a result, it will be able to endure the pressure and friction caused by the mask without breaking or falling out.
Although hair loss is a possible issue, it isn’t necessarily going to be experienced by all users. In fact, some may use a CPAP machine for several years without experiencing any problems of this kind.
Can CPAP cause facial swelling?
Regularly using a CPAP machine may have some effects on facial structure, however, there are few reported cases concerning such issues.
Periorbital edema refers to swelling around the eyes and this can be caused by an incorrectly fitting mask that leaks air around your eyes resulting in possible puffiness, or an obstruction to your venous system or lymphatic draining system.
The most common cause of this issue tends to be a mask that fits too tightly. Should any users experience issues of this kind, they should seek advice from their doctor who will be able to provide them with a more appropriately fitting mask or one of a different style that doesn’t obstruct or put pressure onto these areas of their face.
It is also advised to monitor children who require the use of a CPAP mask to prevent any issues with facial growth problems. This will typically be an effect of the pressure of the mask against their nose. Again, finding the best style of mask for their requirements will help to ease such issues and also using nasal pillows which will help to relieve any pressure.
As mentioned, there aren’t a lot of reported cases regarding this issue and you will typically find that most users try out a range of different masks before settling on the style that they consider the most comfortable.
Damon Wiseley is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist.