Common Problems

Ask CPAP Expert Carol: Common CPAP Mask Problems

Young Man Holding CPAP mask

Have a question but can’t find the answer? Our CPAP experts are here to help! Every month our CPAP Expert Carol will answer four of your questions chosen at random from the previous months’ post. Are you interested in having your questions answered next month? Be sure to leave a comment below. 

This month CPAP Expert Carol will be tackling your questions on how to troubleshoot common CPAP mask problems.

Question: “I have been using a CPAP machine for a year now. The first six months were great but the last six months I’ve . been waking up with bags under my eyes. My doctor has no answer. Hoping you might have an idea what to do. I use the CPAP pillow, full face mask, and am a side sleeper.”

Answer: I am sorry to hear that! There could be a couple of reasons that you see bags under your eyes. First, Have you changed your mask cushion within the last three months or your mask within the previous six months? It may be that you have a mask leak, which has been known to cause bags.

Second, It could also be that the mask/headgear that you are using is too tight. If too large and you have to pull the headgear too tight to avoid leaks, this may be the cause. Also, please keep in mind that bags under your eyes could be occurring naturally and not related to your CPAP Therapy at all. 


Question: My son started using his CPAP three weeks ago. He takes his mask off and doesn’t remember doing it. Do you have any suggestions to help? Is it unusual that he is removing the mask after three weeks? How long does it normally take before this passes?

Answer: Thank you for reaching out. I am so sorry that your son is having trouble keeping his mask on. It is relatively common for new CPAP users to remove their mask during the night unintentionally. Unfortunately,  there is no specific time frame we can give to can say that it will pass. However, I do have a few suggestions!

For starters, ensure your son is using the correct size mask; if not, he will have a difficult time getting used to it. I also would recommend having him try different masks to see what feels the most comfortable. Be sure to stop by the CPAP.com Store if you are in the area to try a few on!

Some CPAP users find wearing a chin strap in conjunction with their mask to keep then from easily removing the mask at night. Another option is to try adding tape to the headgear, in areas that will not affect his CPAP therapy, some people have even opted to apply band-aids on the mask strategically and find that helps.

Lastly, he can try wearing the mask while he’s watching television, playing a video game, surfing the internet, or just relaxing. This will encourage him to get used to wearing the mask in general.


Question: Is it common to get eye infections from CPAP use?

Answer: I can’t say for sure that there is a direct correlation between eye infections and CPAP use. However, it may be air from your mask blowing into your eyes that is causing the irritation, if that sounds like it could be the case then you probably have a mask leak. Mask leaks are 100% preventable and easy to fix. I would recommend reading through this article the dives into the possible causes of masks leaks to help you determine the source.


Question: Lately, when I exhale the little flipper on my full face mask sounds like a loud heartbeat, making it impossible to fall asleep. I have used this machine and mask for about four years and have never experienced this before. My supplier is telling me all full face masks have a flipper and nothing can be done. What do you suggest?

Answer: I am very sorry that you are having that issue with your mask. My first suggestion is to check the bottom of your mask to ensure that the ports are completely pushed in—sometimes those can come loose.  Alternatively, a part may be out of place on your mask, and that may be causing the noise. If that is the case, I recommend checking out the video below which features a step by step reassembly of your CPAP mask:


It’s your turn! We want to hear what questions you have regarding your CPAP machines and treatment. Our experts are here and ready to help! Comment your questions below. 

30 Comments

  1. Brad Stossel Reply

    Hello; I’ve had my cpap machine now for almost 2-weeks. I’m definitely getting more sleep, which is great! However, I’m on my 2nd mask due to irritation on and around my nose.

    I got a mask fitting at my local sleep clinic and found that the nasal pillow was my most comfy option. However, I was fitted in a recliner, not a bed. I’m a side-sleeper, have been all my life. The N30i by ResMed was the best option because it allowed me to sleep on my side without obstruction the mask due to its design. The hose on top was also ideal because I tend to turnover to get comfy.

    After first 5 nights, I was losing more than 24/L of airflow each night which has been the basis of my point loss so far. Also, I realized the N30i had thick plastic connectors by my nose which dig into my cheeks and bridge as I slept.

    So I bought the P30i and have used that last 6-7 nights. It seems to be a bit better, less mask off instances, but now, my nose is suddenly breaking out, the inside and outside edges of nostrils are raw and hurt throughout the day because of it. I’ve not returned the N30i until I know this P30i one works…but little bumps around my nose and raw, scabby irritation is now even more disruptive to my sleep and during the day.

    My score is averaging 90 and majority of point loss is from adjust and mask off. I’m getting 7+ hours of sleep, my events are down from 8.2 baseline to under 2 consistently. What masks will benefit my sleep habits and not cause irritation. I’m confident the sizes are right but I’m open to suggestions.

    Thanks.

  2. I am a new CPAP user. I am on mask #2. Need full face mask. Started out with AirFit F20, but developed pressure sores/breakout on bridge of nose the first night. Just started using mask#2 AirFit F30, Medium size, and no irritation, Yay. However, I am waking up around 5:00 am with air blowing a little on my cheeks. I assume this is air leak, though my dream station app reports 100% mask fit. My pressure seems to be higher, at around 14 at these times. I have to fully get up, and go in the bathroom and adjust the mask in the mirror again and make it much tighter for the air to stop blowing on my cheeks. This of course is disruptive and I don’t sleep well for the next couple hours until I actually need to get up. And while, no marks or irritation on my face from straps, they feel too tight and the back of my scalp where they were is a little sore. This goes away after about half an hour.

    On the size chart for the F30, I am right on the line between small and medium. I read several reviews that recommended going for medium instead of small with the F30, in this circumstance because small may make one feel like they’re not getting enough air. Also, when I tried both sizes on (at sleep supplier, so sitting up), the medium felt more comfortable. When night begins, no air on my cheeks and fall asleep just fine. My pressure starts at 5 when machine first turned on. I sleep on my back, and really don’t move. Could the mask be the wrong size? Seems like air leak occurs when pressure is higher. Could the higher pressure be the cause? What else can I do? Or will this stop, as I get more acclimated?

    I really want to find a solution as I believe this is the best mask for me, and I started feeling a lot better, within a few days of starting treatment, even with the issues I described above. Please help me figure this out! Thanks.

    • Hi Lizzie, i’m sorry that you are having problems with your CPAP Therapy. In response to your question, yes, it sounds like you have a mask leak. When your machine senses that you have a leak, it will blow more air to compensate for the leak which may be the reason, your pressure increases to 14.

      Since you seem to be okay with the F30, my suggestion would be for you to try mask liners to see if they help to reduce the leak. Please see the link below for more information.

      https://www.cpap.com/productpage/silent-night-full-face-cpap-mask-liners

      Also, please keep in mind that not all masks will work for every person and it is not abnormal to go through several masks before you find one that will best fit your needs. Please see the link below for one of our most popular full face masks that may interest you. CPAP.com, offers free 30 day returns on all of our masks, so if you purchase from us, you may return the mask for any reason within 30 days for a different mask, or a refund.

      https://www.cpap.com/productpage/resmed-airfit-f10-full-face-cpap-mask-headgear

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

      We wish you the best!

  3. MaryAnne Winniford Reply

    I have tried the full nose mask and am now using the lighter-weight Dreamwear that is just under my nose. My problem is waking up with welts on my face under the bands that go across my face, whether it is just a strap or the air hose. I am overweight, so my flesh is probably thicker than if I wasn’t.

    Is there any way to lessen the welt/dent? I need the straps fairly tight to keep the mask in place through the night.

  4. Hi there!
    Today is my 2nd week using Cpap Machine. The first mask I use is for nasal only and for 2 nights I used I woke up several time with a very dry mouth. They changes it with a medium full mask. Seems better on 1st night but the 2nd night i was waking up due to dry mouth. If I put strap tight, it hurts and if I make it loose, I hear n feel air coming off. I’ve notice when the pressure is in 8 or 10 I feel better, comfortable with not too tight strapand cpap machine don’t make any sound. But when it reached the 12 it became uncomfortable and my throat becomes too dry the I needed to remove mask and drink water. My prescribe pressure is 12 and 4 humidity. My daughter said I snore less but still I do sometimes but quieter than I used to be. My problem is #1 waking up with my throat super dry. And #2 it seems even though I slept 8 hours, I still feel sleepy after 2 hours I woke up. # 3 how do I keep my mouth close and #4 machine makes sound when it in pressure 12. Looking forward to your response soonest.
    Thank you

    • Hey Geraldine, i’m sorry to hear that you’re having a difficult time with your CPAP Therapy. It sounds like there is air leaking from your full face mask. This is most likely related to a sizing issue. Be sure that you have the correct size cushion. Also, you may try increasing the humidity if possible, or adding a room humidifier to help with the mouth dryness.

      Since you are not feeling rested throughout the day, it’s most likely because you don’t have a comfortable fit with your mask. If possible check your sleep data, to confirm that you have a good mask fit, what your leak rate is and your AHI. If you are receiving an AHI which is above 4, you may want to speak with your doctor about a pressure setting adjustment. As far as keeping your mouth closed, you can try a Chinstrap to see if that helps.

      Which machine are you currently using? It could be a normal sound that you are hearing. Also, if there is in fact a mask leak, the noise may be related to your machine working extra hard to compensate for the leak.

      Please feel free to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221 and we will be happy to speak with you further regarding all of your concerns, and go through troubleshooting with you over the phone.

      Don’t give up! Keep in mind that most patients go through several masks before they find one that fits comfortably.

      We wish you the best!

  5. Howard Finkel Reply

    I have been using my Resmed 10 with nasal pillows for 2+ years with good success. I have lost 62 lbs and my machine says I am having lots leakage, but only 1 event per hour. My mouth is extremely dry in the am. Is it possible that the pressure is now too high and it needs to be adjusted to reflect my weight loss? Not certain why I now breath through my mouth? I did do a leak check and there is nothing wrong with the hose or nasal pillows. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Howard, congratulations on your weight loss! There are a couple of suggestions I would make. For starters, dry mouth is an indication that your mouth is falling open during the night. Since you are currently using a nasal pillow mask, you have two options. You can either switch to a full face mask, or you should consider using your nasal pillow mask in conjunction with a chinstrap. Also, you may benefit from adding a humidifier with your therapy if you aren’t already using one.

      Another suggestion is for you to speak with your doctor, regarding your weight loss to confirm if a setting change is warranted under the circumstances.

      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.

      Enjoy your day!

  6. Hi, I have been waking up feeling short of breath since my pressure was changed from 9 to 12. Is there a way I can lower the pressure myself? I have mixed apneas, some are central

    • Hi Cathleen, i’m sad to hear about the shortness of breath that you have been experiencing. Please speak with your doctor before making any pressure setting adjustments. After you have spoken with your doctor, and have the recommended setting change, we’d be more than happy to walk you through the adjustment over the phone.

      Also, because you have mixed apneas, you may benefit from using an auto-titrating (APAP), if you aren’t already utilizing one. This is a machine which is set to a high pressure and low pressure and it automatically adjusts to the pressure that you need on a breath, by breath basis.

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

      Have a wonderful day!

  7. Sonja Ballou Reply

    Every once in awhile around the hose that hooks to the larger hose gets wet and when I turn on the machine it sounds like gurgling. I can not find any air leaks. How can I stop the gurgling?

  8. Hello, I am using a ResMed AirFit™ F30 now, first full face mask. Cannot keep on more than 5 hrs. I wake up and remove it. Overall it is a good mask, but wondering if the Philips Respironics Amara View is better. Is the Amara View equally quiet (not hearing breathing inhale/exhale) as the AirFit F30? I think the AirFit F30 has some kind of breathing noise reduction mechanism. Wondering if Amara View is equally quiet. Thanks.

    • Hi Terico, the DBA for the AirFit F30 with the quiet elbow is 21 and the DBA for the Amara View is 24.2, so in response to your question, the Amara View isn’t equally as quiet as the AirFit F30.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      Have a great weekend!

  9. Robin Rumbolt Reply

    I have been using a full face Resmed CPAP mask for about 8 years now. In the past 6 mos. I have developed an itchy rash on my chin where the mask sits. From what I have learned it is contact dermatitis. Is there a type of mask made with a different material that will not cause the rash?

  10. Hi,I’ve been using a CPAP with nasal pillows and I’m having problems with the pressure of the nosepiece and tubing on my upper mouth and I feel pressure on my front teeth and I ‘m afraid they’ll move or loosen.Is there a better mask?

  11. I think I am having similar problems as Lizzie. I’ll wake up and I can feel air leaking from my mask (AirFit F30) near my eyes, but my “myAir” app is consistently reporting no to very little (the highest it has ever reported is 3L/min). I have noticed that on the nights that I’m noticing the most leaks are the nights that it is reporting the most events per hour. Is it possible that my machine is misreading the leaks as events? Also, what advice can you do for improving fit and preventing the mask from moving in the night? I’m fairly certain what is happening is that my mask is moving up on my face while I sleep and no amount of adjusting the straps that came with my headgear seems to be fixing it.

  12. Inger LeClair Reply

    I am using the Dreamwear under the nose nasal mask and I love it, however I have one problem which I’ve had with the previous two other styles of masks I tried as well. It fits fine around my face, but eventually through the night the straps that go around the back of my head slip up, causing the mask to be a little looser or not positioned right. I know the first suggestion may be to tighten the straps, but then I get sores under my nose and my eyes feel buldgy. My clinic office suggested that I use hair clips to keep it in place. I wasn’t a fan of sleeping with hard clips in, but have it a try. It worked initially, but now those either pop open and poke me during the night or they slide too with the mask like before. I have long hair and I wear it up at night in a loose bun so that would be a barrier from the straps slipping completely off if it went that far. My numbers are great and it’s comfortable so I think this is the mask for me, I just need to find a solution for this annoyance. Thanks

    • Hi Inger, Im sorry to hear you’re struggling with the DreamWear mask. You might try the N30i mask – its designed very similarly, but the top part of the frame has some ridges, so it doesn’t slip so much, and the headgear hugs the back of the head slightly differently.

      Please see the link below for more information on the N30i.

      https://www.cpap.com/productpage/resmed-airfit-n30i-nasal-cpap-mask

      For further questions, or concerns, please reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      We hope this helps, have a great day!

      • Inger LeClair Reply

        Thanks, but it’s not the top of my head part that is slipping – it is the straps behind my head. Not sure what ridges on the top tube would do about that. I put the hair clips on the back, on the straps. Any more suggestions knowing that?

        • Hey Inger, I would still say the N30i is worth a go. It may prove to be a mask that doesn’t work for you and slip as the DreamWear does, but it’s work a try!

          Please reach us at with any further concerns at: 1-800-356-5221.

          Best Wishes!

  13. Bruce Robert Alexander Reply

    Hello. I’ve been using a CPAP for nearly 14 years now; and quite successfully.
    However, after the past 5 years of successfully using a ResMed 10 Autoset, I updated my CPAP to a new ResMed 10 Autoset. Up to that time I averaged 18/20 to 20/20 Maskfit for the N20 Mask.
    Since Dec 19, I’ve now on my 3rd ResMed 10 due to problems with the two previous machines. However my MAIN problem is Mask Fit. Despite using the N20 for the past 5 years successfully, I’ve not been able to get a Mask Fit reading from MyAir higher than 13/20. The past two nights it has been 9/20. Additionally, my Event rates have been much higher than normal (normal being 0.3 to 0.7) — mine since Dec 19 have been 1.0 to 1.8 ! I do not feel nor hear ANY Air Leak. I am using a chinstrap. I do the Mask Fit test on the ResMEd 10 and it indicates I have GOOD Mask Fit! I do use a SoClean2 machine– and have tried to sleep with the SoClean special top on the heated humidifier — and have tried it without the SoClean top using the standard humidifier with the same results. I wondering if the recent ResMeds have a problem? I also have AFIB so it is critical that I am able to get the necessary sleep.

    I want my sleep back — any suggestions appreciated.
    Bruce

    • Hi Bruce, we haven’t had any reports of Resmed issues. My first questions would be related to cleaning and replacement. 1. When was the last time you replaced your cushion 2. You mention you’re using the SoClean – are you ALSO washing your cushion. (loads of people incorrectly replace physical washing for the ‘cleaning machines’ – and this can be part of the issue.
      while you’re awake and testing your mask fit, you may not notice this leaking, but if you’re moving throughout the night, if your cushion isn’t properly maintained, it can become dislodged.

      You might consider trying out a full face mask to see if that helps negate the mask fit – often, even with a chinstrap, air can escape through the mouth.

      Finally, you might check into asking if your doctor can read your sleep data from your SD card (ResScan or Airview) – if your doctor does not have these available to them, you might look into OSCAR (https://www.sleepfiles.com/OSCAR/) to help you determine what is happening while you’re sleeping – these programs can help you pinpoint when these leaks are happening

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, for any further questions, or concerns.

      We wish you the best!

  14. Nazih Agil Ibrahim Reply

    I use my cpap almost everyday. But lately I wake up with a very dry mouth and my tongue feels like a peace of dead meat. What causes this feeling?
    Thanks

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