Common Problems

6 Weird CPAP Side Effects And How To Handle Them

As a CPAP user, you’re familiar with the common CPAP side effects, but there are some lesser-known side effects that are less obvious to detect, but still can hinder your compliance with CPAP therapy. They may seem like minor annoyances, but they’re side effects you don’t have to deal with! With these remedies, we hope to have you snoozing soundly with your CPAP machine!

Headaches in the Morning

Headaches are not common in the way of CPAP side effects unless sinus related issues cause them or your pressure is too high.

When your CPAP is blocking a part of your sinus cavities, it can create pressure between your sinus cavities, leading to a headache.

Try over the counter medications to help open your sinus passageways and give you sinus congestion relief. Another solution could be to add a heated humidifier to open your sinus passageways during treatment. If you’ve tried these solutions and still have no relief, it may be time to contact your ENT for further advice.

Dry Mouth

If you’re waking up with a dry mouth, it’s likely you’re sleeping with your mouth open which can reduce the effectiveness of your CPAP treatment. Luckily, there are three easy solutions for CPAP dry mouth you can try right now. The first solution is to check your mask for leaks. If your mask is over six months old and leaking, you may want to replace it. If it’s brand new and still showing signs of a leak, try adjusting your fit. If you use a full face CPAP mask and see no sign of a leak, consider a heated humidifier to add moisture and relieve your dry mouth. If you’re using a nasal mask instead of a full face mask, try using a chinstrap to keep your mouth from dropping open as you snooze.

If none of these solutions work for you, try looking into masks recommended just for mouth breathers.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes may not seem obvious when thinking about common CPAP problems, but it can happen! If you’re waking up with dry eyes, you may have a leak in your mask at the bridge of your nose. This could cause the air to seep out right around your eyes, causing excessive dryness. This just means it’s time for an adjustment!

We don’t recommend tightening your mask, but rather adding a nose cushion or nasal pillow to help keep your mask flush to your skin.

If this doesn’t work, you may need to resize the mask, as your current mask may be too big or long for your face.

Bloating & Gasbloating with cpap

Nobody wants these CPAP side effects! If you feel bloated first thing in the morning, as if there is air in your stomach, you may be swallowing the CPAP air. While there’s not a medical solution for this, you can try adjusting your sleeping position.

The first position we’d recommend is laying as flat as possible – even without a pillow. If this doesn’t work, try sleeping on your side or elevated, whichever is different from your current sleeping position.

If changing your position doesn’t work and you’re still feeling very bloated, speak to your doctor about lowering the pressure in your CPAP treatment. While this may slightly increase your number of apnea episodes in a night, the relief it provides to your bloated stomach may be worth it!

Dry Nose & Congestion

As far as Sleep Apnea machine side effects go, this one is easy! Waking up with a dry nose or congestion are both common side effects of CPAP use and usually, just indicate a simple lack of humidification. The air your CPAP blows through your nasal passages can irritate your passages and cause them to dry out or bleed. Dry or cracked passages are definitely uncomfortable, but can also put you at a higher risk of contracting an infection. On the other hand, your nasal passages may try to protect themselves by producing excess mucus, leaving you with congestion.

For either of these CPAP side effects, a heated humidifier can add the moisture your nasal passages need to reduce or entirely eliminate the irritation.

If you’re already using a heated humidifier, try out a higher setting. If this doesn’t work, you can also try using a soothing nasal gel.

Breaking Out Around Nose

If you’re finding redness and bumps around your nose after using your CPAP, there are three things that could be happening. 1) Facial oils are building up under your mask, 2) your mask is too tight on your face, or 3) you’re having an allergic reaction to the mask material. Here are some possible remedies for these CPAP side effects.

To minimize facial oil buildup, make sure you’re washing your face prior to putting on your mask at night. In the morning, when taking your mask off, make sure you’re cleaning the facial cushion, so oils don’t sit on the mask and end up back on your face. If, after a while, you’re still getting breakouts, try out a nasal pillow mask that is designed to have less direct contact with your skin or a mask liner.

If the redness and bumps are found below your nose, or around the bridge, it could mean your headgear straps are too tight. The pressure of this tightness will create sores and possibly a bruise, even open sores if left untreated for too long. If you’re over-tightening to prevent a leak, you should consider switching masks. When adjusting your mask, make sure to make small and consistent adjustments, working clockwise around the mask, to prevent uneven tightness.

Finally, if you’re experiencing breakouts with a new mask, your skin could be having a reaction to the chemicals used to manufacture your silicone mask.

Most of the time, these chemicals degrade over time and eliminate the problem on their own. However, the easiest solution is to soak your mask in warm, soapy water to help remove the chemicals prior to use. This method works with all types of masks and can be used with replacement parts as well, but prolonged soaking could reduce the lifespan of your silicone.

We hope these solutions to less common CPAP side effects help ease your discomfort. Remember, your CPAP therapy is worth a few minor inconveniences!

Tell us about your experience with side effects from CPAP therapy in the comments below.

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Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.

29 Comments

  1. Most of my 34/hr OSA events were hypopneas during my limited sleep study (maybe 3hrs of actual sleep, no REM, tried additional meds on this the 2nd attempt). I had to get a CPAP machine to trial. I never got a single minute of sleep with it. Tried to use it while sitting in front of the TV to acclimatise. Adjusted settings to the lowest with maximum exhale relief (c-flex aPAP), slower ramp. About 30mins and the pressure in me had built up so much: headache, nausea, lightheaded, gas in stomach, heart was pounding trying to push blood against an unknown pressure, diastolic pressure increased by 20mmHg or more. I could consciously try to breathe with it but when I relaxed the CPAP pressure would stop me from breathing out. It was making me hyperventilate if I went with the flow (@volume*rate not normally associated with hyperventilating) and then it thought I had stopped breathing when I was trying to breathe out slowly (my natural rate). It made it easier to breathe in (inhale), but much harder to breathe out (exhale). No panic, no anxiety, I knew all about CPAP and the value of it from my brother so problems were not expected. Lung Xray, PFT and heart tests indicate all good, except: the peak flows were really high (150% of predicted), low resistance (sRAW 41%) and lower ERV/RV (63/79% of predicted). For a 38yr old with Asthma, hiatus hernia, reflux and a BMI of 26, They said I should be fine and didn’t understand my symptoms apart from insisting CPAP would be good fo me. Suspected anemia/thyroid tested but results were normal. PB typically 110/70 but sometimes as low as 90/55. These medical/OSA/CPAP textbooks don’t seem to have enough detail regarding the rare cases.

    • Timc, have you seen an EMT? I had OSA due to lack of space. I had a tonsilectomy, uvulectomy, pharyngoplasty and my tongue shrunk. Cleared the OSA right up.
      Good luck, I know how horrible both OSA and CSA treatment can be, just keep pushing for something that works for you.

    • I am also experiencing extreme shortness of breath not as much breathing in as I am trying to push the breath out. This goes on throughout my days. My original diagnosis is IPF and real bad sleep apnea. I can’t find any proof of this as a side effect from CPap usage. I was thankful to see your mentioning not easily expelling your breath. This goes on every day and I have contacted my Pulmonologist and asked to f this was possibly caused by the CPAP and they weren’t aware. I also called sleeping center and they suggested ramping, turning the level 10 lower or try BiPAP. How long have you experienced this side effect before you were able to figure out it was a CPAP side effect

  2. Henry Bernacki Reply

    My cpap experience landed me in the ED with Hypoxia. severe head ache nausia tunnel vision dizzy.. They could not determine what caused it. i know what caused it the damn cpap machine suffocated me by not allowing enough air to escape when exhaling so I kept breathing carbon dioxide back in. Know I have a duo pap the high tech multi function more advanced version woke up with a headache again some disorientation.again lasted all day. Can’t get any straight answers.

    • Hey Henry, sounds like you had an extremely scary experience with your CPAP Therapy. Hopefully, your doctor will be able to provide you with some straight answers soon for what is causing your headaches and dis-orientation.

      You may want to confirm with your doctor that your pressure settings are at an optimum level for you.

      We wish you the best!

  3. I love my cpap machine, however, I wake up in the middle of the night with the most powerful farts. I could win a fart competition with the power of the 3-5 continuous loud farts. I don’t use my machine when my girlfriend spends the night because of this. Any recommendations to stop these loud farts?

    • Hi Michael, I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing some bloating and gas problems with the use of your CPAP machine. You may want to try changing your sleeping position, even sleep on your stomach if you are not already. If the problem persists, you should speak with your doctor about your symptoms, as the pressure on your machine may need to be adjusted.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com with further questions, or concerns.

      We wish you the best!

  4. I’m having chest pains and trouble breathing throughout the day since I started using my machine. I’ve only used it for 2 nights and I’m struggling with it. My chest feels like someone has punched me and I’m bruised. I have headaches which I never get, dry throat and feel horrible. I have a collapsed lung so I’m wondering if the extra air I’m getting is expanding my chest that’s why I’m feeling so sore??

    • Hey Kellie, i’m sorry that you are having some problems with tolerating your CPAP Therapy. I would encourage you to speak with your doctor about the way you have been feeling and your breathing troubles. While, it may take some time to get comfortable using your CPAP machine, it could be that you need to have your settings adjusted.

      If you would like to speak with us further, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

  5. I restarted using my cpap after several years. It’s a new machine, same company make but it’s an updated machine. It’s day 2 and my muscles ache and I have muscle soreness too. Yesterday it was horrible, today not as bad. I don’t know if the pain is related to cpap use or if it’s a coincidence. Have you ever heard of this before?

    • Hi Sharon, I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing some soreness. I have not heard of muscle soreness being a symptom of CPAP use although, it could be. It may take some time to get re-acclimated with using your CPAP therapy. Are your settings on your new machine the same as the old one? You should consider speaking with your doctor about the soreness that you are experiencing as well. It may not be related to your CPAP therapy at all.

      Please feel free to reach us with further questions, or concerns at: 1-800-356-5221, or email us: cpap@cpap.com.

      Enjoy your day!

  6. Carole yemma Reply

    My atrial fibrillation has increased. I am having more episodes. I sent for a man fitting and I was told the mask was too small for my face. I have been using this mask for 2years. Could this cause my afi to get worse?

    • Hi Carole, I am sorry to hear about your increased Atrial Fibrillation. I am not able to answer your question with certainty, but it is a possibility. My suggestion, would be for you to speak with your doctor, as there are many reasons that you could be experiencing an increased Atrial Fibrillation.

      I would also recommend, that you change to a different sized mask. If your mask is too small, this does interfere with your CPAP Therapy. If you need assistance with selecting a different mask, or determining which size mask would best suit you, please feel free to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      Have a great day!

  7. Lately I have been experiencing a daily odor and my tongue has actually become quite sensitive
    I have tried to rule out things in my environment that may be causing this and now I’m wondering
    if it may be related to the CPAP machine.
    I do have a SoClean machine that I use on a regular basis..
    The odor is stronger in the AM and my tongue is much more sensitive then also

    • Hi Bob, I am sorry that you are experiencing such problems. I would definitely, recommend that you speak with your doctor/dentist about your symptoms. We have a CPAPtalk.com Forum, http://www.cpaptalk.com/viewtopic/t56558/lung-odor.html that shows other CPAP users have experienced odor also. Not sure if the information may be helpful to you, but it is a good place to hear what others are saying.

      Also, we do not sell the SoClean therefore, we have very little information on the effects of using it. You may want to speak with whomever you purchased your SoClean from to see if that cleaner may have a bearing on the odor that you are experiencing.

      We wish you the best!

  8. Carolyn Foster Reply

    Since started using my cpap machine I have to fallen out of bed 3 times. On 2 of those times I hit my head really hard. I am 65 and afraid of hitting my head so much.

  9. SUSAN SCOTT Reply

    Yes can the straps on my full mask cause my head to break out with these pimples like the pressure of the straps thanks Sue

  10. I have recently developed a large amount of peeling on the bridge of my nose. The mask does not touch this area, but the air from the mask does put air pressure inside my nose. What can be done to prevent this?

  11. I’ve been using the CPAP for 4 months and I read another note about odor. I also have noticed that there is a bad odor in my nose. Can’t figure out what causes it. Doesn’t seem to be many others experiencing it. I’m keeping it clean and only using distilled water. I’m going to start using saline solution before bed. Any other ideas?
    Carl

    • Hi Carl, i’m sorry to hear about the odor you are experiencing. I would recommend you making sure you are changing your filter on a regular basis. If you are using a machine which requires disposable filters, be sure to change them every 30 days. Make sure you are keeping your hose clean, each day you should hang over a shower rail, or a door to let it dry completely and be sure to clean it with vinegar and water every 7 days, or you can use some Control III Solution also. You should change your hose every 6-12 months.

      I am not certain which mask you are using, but for Nasal and Full Face Masks, the cushion should be cleaned daily and changed every 3 months. If you are using a Nasal Pillow, most time you need to change the cushion every 30 days and wash them daily.

      If you are already performing all of the maintenance above, I would recommend you speaking with your doctor about the odor you are experiencing. It is possible that you are suffering from a sinus infection, or possibly some other medical condition.

      For further questions and concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

    • Hi Katie, what type of mask are you currently using? Is it a Nasal Pillow, or a Nasal Prong?

      If you use nasal pillows, try the smallest size available that seals around your nares. Your nose might also be sensitive to the presence of the nasal pillows, and it might take time for your nose to “toughen up” and adjust to the nasal pillows. Try switching back and forth between the nasal pillow mask and a nasal mask.

      Please see the link below with a Nose Lubricant, that may provide you some relief. If you aren’t currently using a humidifier, you may benefit from one and if you are, please try increasing the humidity level, as this may reduce dryness that may be contributing to the nose sore.

      https://www.cpap.com/productpage/CPAP-Moisture-Therapy-Cream-1-oz-Tube

      https://www.cpap.com/productpage/neilmed-nasogel-tube

      For further questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

  12. I had a bad episode sleeping with CPAP. I woke up, but still half asleep, and felt short of breath. SoI was trying to get my breath and as I was doing that all of a sudden my whole body became tingly and I couldn’t lift my arms. I couldn’t really do anything. Could barely talk to let my husband know. Ever since then I’ve felt weak, but getting a little better each day. But the day before I was put to sleep for a procedure I needed and was instructed to not take any sleeping pills the night after the procedure bc of the anesthesia. And I didn’t. I don’t take any sleeping pills, but do take a medicine, Seroquel, for anxiety that is sedating. Is that considered a sleeping pill? But anyway, I didn’t take the night of procedure, but took the next night when I took the episode. Was it the CPAP or was it probably the pill and maybe the anesthesia still maybe in my system? Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Angela, that sounds like a really scary episode! We’ve never heard of a CPAP machine causing your symptoms, but we are not medical professionals. In this case, I would recommend you speaking directly with your doctor about the incident and the weakness that you have been experiencing.

      Please feel free to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221 with further questions, or concerns.

      We wish you the best!

  13. I have successfully used a CPAP for about 2 years. I don’t like using the heated tube with the humidifier. I much prefer cool air. Will there be any humidification benefit if I don’t use the heated tube but place water in the chamber? I do sometimes awaken with dry mouth and also have phlegm in the back of my throat.

    • Hi Sharon, my apologies for the delayed response. The heated hose is optional, if you decide to use your regular hose instead you will still receive moisture with your therapy, minus the heat.

      For further questions, or concerns, please reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or e-mail: cpap@cpap.com.

      Have a great day!

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