Ask CPAP Expert Carol: Common CPAP Mask Problems

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    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 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.