Common Problems

Nasal Dryness with CPAP: Tips, Tricks, and Products

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy helps treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The treatment involves wearing a nosepiece or mask that’s hooked up to the CPAP machine to deliver you steady and constant air pressure.

While realizing the benefits of continuous positive airway pressure therapy, some patients often deal with uncomfortable and troublesome nasal dryness with CPAP. This is because the gas flow of CPAP therapy sometimes makes it difficult for the nasal airway to maintain sufficient humidity and warmth. As a result, the CPAP user can lose moisture in their airways and eventually exhibit symptoms of inflammation and upper airy dryness, such as:

  • Dry nose
  • Bleeding Nose
  • Dry Mouth
  • Dry Throat
  • Dry Cracked Lips

Infections of the throat, sinuses, and nose might also occur.

Your nasal airway is extremely vascular which enables it to become dried out easily by dry, cold air. Luckily, we have some tips for you to help combat nasal and mouth dryness with CPAP therapy and stay compliant with your treatment.

About Nasal Dryness with CPAP

When you go to sleep using a CPAP machine, you could experience a mouth leak. Unidirectional airflow can occur since incoming air can travel through the mouth without going to the lungs first. The cold dry air flow increase through the nasal passages can lead to mucosal drying and rebound congestion.

Inflammation and swelling can happen in rebound congestion, resulting in a reduction in nasal airway diameter. Because of this, there’s increased nasal airway resistance (NAR). NAR cause an increase in mouth leak as you begin to mouth breathe and this continues the cycle.

If you reside in a humid environment, you likely have dehumidifiers and air conditioning running, therefore the air passing through your CPAP is dry and cold. This can cause increased nasal symptom occurrence and could lead to discomfort. Even if you live in a humid environment, your nasal airways can’t provide enough humidity to humidify the CPAP therapy’s increased airflow.

This can lead to the nasal mucosa lacking enough moisture needed to humidify the air.

Fortunately, CPAP humidification, CPAP and nasal dryness tips, and some products can help.

CPAP and Nasal Dryness Tips and Tricks

You can try one or more of the below CPAP nasal dryness tips and tricks.

1. Ensure your CPAP mask fits properly. Your nose can dry out with a leaky mask. If you need to tighten straps frequently to avoid air leakage, then the mask isn’t fitting properly. A CPAP machine featuring a heated humidifier that connects to the air pressure device can help. You can adjust the humidification level. You can also ease a stuffy, dry nose by using a nasal saline spray before you go to bed.

2. Apply a non-petroleum based moisturizer in your nose. Some doctors suggest this and say it works effectively.

3. Use a heated humidifier and full-face mask to prevent your mouth from drying out. Heated CPAP humidification can reduce NAR because it supplies the right amount of humidity to the air that your nose can’t supply. This is especially helpful if you’re using a nasal mask or nasal pillow and have a dry mouth when you wake up. In this case, it’s most likely you’re a mouth breather.

If you do use a heated humidifier and a full-face mask and you’re still waking up dry, it’s likely you’re not using it properly. Try to turn the heat up. You’ll receive more moisture the higher the heat level is.

4. Change your CPAP mask or machine setting. You could be using an incorrect mask for your machine’s setting. Talk with the sleep specialist or equipment provider to see what other options there are. You could have your CPAP setting too high. If so, try to adjust the setting until you begin noticing the drying going away or ceasing completely.

CPAP and Nasal Dryness Products

Below are some products you could find helpful with dry nasal passages.

Heated Humidifiers

As mentioned, CPAP air can be an irritant in some cases. The irritation can make your nasal passages dry out and in some cases, bleed. Or, your mucous membranes could produce excess mucus to try and protect your nasal passages, resulting in congestion. The irritation can develop over time and become cumulative. Not to mention, cracked, bleeding or dry nasal passages can be a breeding ground for infection.

Using a heated humidifier can help eliminate irritation and add moisture to the CPAP air. The heated humidifier integrates with most lines of CPAP devices perfectly to provide moisturized, heated air for therapy comfort.

It adjusts the humidifier’s temperature to reduce condensation in the tubing, keeping the level of humidification constant all night long. You can adjust the control knob on the humidifier’s side of the base to set the level of heat. There are different heat settings to help you find your desired humidity level.

The CPAP heated humidifier rests on a heater plate. The heater plate will heat the chamber water with increasing temperature, adding moisture to the air flowing through.

CPAP Moisture Therapy Cream

This moisture therapy cream contains Emu oil, Aloe Vera and Vitamins A and E. It doesn’t contain any petroleum-based products that could damage the CPAP equipment. CPAP moisture therapy cream intended help prevent skin problems, such as cracking, dryness, chafing or other irritation from using a CPAP mask or other delivery device.

You can apply it to the affected area as often as you need it. If you’re using a nasal pillow, you can apply the moisture cream to the outside and inside nasal passages or nares.

NasoGEL

NasoGEL soothes irritated nasal passages and keeps them hydrated and moisturized. It can help if you wake up with sore nostrils too. You can use a small amount of NasoGEL and apply it to each nostril every four to six hours. Apply the water-soluble saline gel with a clean Q-tip or cotton swab for prolonged moisture. NasoGEL is perfect for both CPAP and oxygen users.

NeilMed NasoGEL Drip Free Spray

Some patients find benefits when they use NasoGEL along with a nasal saline spray, like NeilMed NasoGEL Drip Free Spray.

Heated Tubing

These are regular standard hoses that come in various lengths or you can choose heated options to enhance your set up, reducing tube condensation.

For instance, a heating tube can provide you with optimal humidity by monitoring the levels of temperature to the mask which allows the device to compensate when there’s a change in ambient conditions. You also have an innovative swivel connection at the device helping with moving throughout the night.

The above tips, tricks, and products should really help with nasal dryness with CPAP, but if you continue experiencing nasal or mouth dryness even after you’ve made adjustments to your machine, mask and heated humidifier or purchased some nasal dryness with CPAP products, consult with the sleep specialist. They may have other CPAP and nasal dryness tips to help alleviate the problem and provide you with more quality sleep.

David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

26 Comments

  1. evelyn girardin Reply

    thankyou for this information on nasal dryness. I am using a new machine and donot suffer with nasal and mouth dryness as much, I still have some dryness. will be going to see my provider of the machine in another day and will tell them about the dryness and see what they will also advise. I have written out what all of your suggestions are . If I donot get help from them I will be trying out your suggestions.

    • Hey Evelyn, you are most welcome! I am glad you found the article to be helpful. If you would like any further assistance, please feel free to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221 and we will be more than happy to help you.

      Have a great day!

  2. I have been using CPap for almost 8 years now. I believe I am on my fourth or fifth machine and have the humidifier and have adjusted the setting until it feels most comfortable. Work needs to continue on the face mask. I got a res-med mask with this machine but have not been able to use it comfortably. Not sure why this is.

    • Hi Betty, I am sorry to hear that you seem to be having some issues with getting a comfortable fit with your ResMed mask. If you would like assistance, please do not hesitate to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      Have a great day!

  3. No mention of saline nasel spray. Curiious. Seems to work for me.

    • Hi Ed, there was a brief mentioning about the saline spray. Some patients find benefits when they use NasoGEL along with a nasal saline spray, like NeilMed NasoGEL Drip Free Spray.

      Thank you for your feedback. Have a great day!

  4. in the begging When I use the nasal mask I got a good sleep Now when I move around it leeks and wakes me up so i went back using my nasal billow mask I still get a fairly good sleep but not like the full nasal mask
    Thank you
    JIM

    • Hey Jim, sorry to hear that you are having a problem with your nasal mask leaking. Since the mask was working initially, you may want to try changing your cushion. We recommend that you change your mask cushion every 3 months to avoid leaks. Also, you may want to confirm that you are using the correct size cushion.

      If you would like assistance, or other suggestions, please reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      Have a great day!

  5. Susanne Lane Reply

    Thank you for these tips will defiently be trying some of these out

  6. Cynthia Glissmann Reply

    Ayr also makes a great nasal product for dryness. The gel works longer than the.mist product.

  7. I found a little olive oil in each nostril helps. I simply did my index finger in some oil and twist it in each nostril. Some experimentation to get correct amount. Thanks for the article so I have other approaches available .

  8. I dont want to advertise any certain product, but from just about the beginning of my therapy 6 years ago, I have used a certain chest rub starting with a V. A little inside each nostril clears any sinus problem almost immediately and helps me to nod off right away. It hasn’t effected the silicone on my nasal pillow mask ever.
    Thank you for this information, I was remiss in putting water into my humidifier for a couple of days and began having small nose bleeds; fixed that problem and won’t forget to do that again.
    After reading your information, I think I might be a mouth breather most of the time. My mask always leaks, its the smallest one, and was professionally fitted. I change the mask when I am meant to and in fact have a new mask now and still having leaks. My mouth and throat are dry almost every morning. I might have to see if a full mask will work better for me.
    Cheers

    • Hey Colleen, I am glad to hear that the V product is working well for you. From what you are describing, I agree that you are probably a mouth breather and will more than likely need to be fitted for a full face mask, or should consider wearing a chinstrap in conjunction with your nasal, or nasal pillow mask.

      Please see the link below for a few of our more popular full face masks.

      https://www.cpap.com/cpap-compare-chart-share/2e7t

      If you would like further assistance please reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      Have a wonderful day!

  9. I have a great answer that works for me. I find that the hose gets cold in the night air and the resulting cold air is intolerable. My solution: I wear an undershirt to bed, fill the water tank with boiled water which also sanitizes the tank. I stuff as much of the hose as possible into my nightshirt and pull the covers completely over my head. My body heat keeps the air entering my nose at body temperature and this makes the mask, air etc completely comfortable for me. Fred

  10. Doug Williams Reply

    Problems with the CPAP world.
    There is no way I know of to get a proper fitting for masks without going to my doctor
    The humidifier of my machine runs dry in about 6 hours, resulting in a stink of heated plastic and dryness
    There is no way to have the machine evaluated for my usage without going to my doctor
    If CPAP machines work correctly I should not awaken with very dry mouth and nasal passages, and a brutal headache (as a result of too little air when using the CPAP machine)

    Most of your suggestions will cost me money I don’t have. IF CPAP MACHINES WORK CORRECTLY WHY WOULD I HAVE TO DO ANYTHING MORE THAN USE ONE?

    • Hey Doug, I totally understand your frustrations. The fitting for a mask can be challenging to say the least. Even with going to your doctor, you can get home and not be happy with the mask the next day. CPAP.com have fitting guides on our website for most of our masks product pages which can be printed out so that you may measure yourself. We offer free 30 day returns on all of our masks also. If you purchase one of our masks, wear it for a couple of weeks and if you don’t like it, no problem, send it back to us. We will even cover the postage for you to return it to us! We do require a prescription for you to purchase a mask from us though.

      To help with your machine running out of water you may try turning down the humidity, but not sure if that will be an option for you since it seems like you require a lot of moisture with your therapy. As far as having your usage evaluated unfortunately, that would require either an appointment with your doctor, or your sleep center.

      As far as waking up with dry mouth, I am not sure what type of mask you are currently using, but if it isn’t full face, you may want to switch to a full face mask. If you feel like you are not receiving enough pressure and are currently using a CPAP machine, you may be able to avoid a new sleep study by switching to a an APAP machine which is a machine that is set to a high and low pressure and will auto-adjust to the pressure that you need on a breath-by-breath basis.

      Even though some of the suggestions that I have made may include some out of pocket costs, you may be surprised at how inexpensive an APAP machine is, compared to the cost of a new sleep study. Please feel free to contact us for more information and, or troubleshooting. We can be reached at: 1-800-356-5221, or via e-mail: cpap.com

      Have a great day!

  11. Larry Paieski Reply

    Why does my CPAP emit a burning odor after about an hour of beginning my treatment. Does not always do it but when it does it I shut it down temporarily and after starting it back up and it seems to be fine. The humidifier is on and I dont notice much of the water used up. Very uncomfortable sensation in nasal passage and sinus after thus occurs. The CPAP is not relatively new and I had this prinlem with my old one

    • Hi Larry, I am sorry that you are having to deal with the burning odor from your machine. In order for me to accurately answer your question, I will need some additional information. As the odor could be the cause of a number of issues depending on the machine that you are using.

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

      Have a great day!

  12. I have the Philips Dreammachine a wear the nasal mask. I still get a dry throat but not so much my mouth even though I have increased humidity. Thought maybe mouth breathing but as you know this machine gives tons of data. My Doc said if I was mouth breathing it would show up as mask leak, is that true? I don’t want to go back to full face mask. My AHIs tend to stay under 5 occasional a 6 or 7.

    • Hi Belinda, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems with dry mouth/throat during your CPAP Therapy. I can certainly say that having dry mouth/throat is an indication that you are breathing through your mouth.

      Since you have already increased the humidity on your humidifier, I would recommend that you try using a Chinstrap to help keep your mouth closed during your sleep. If you find that the Chinstrap isn’t working for you, unfortunately, you may have to explore the possibility of going back to a full face mask. Please see the link below to view a list of some of the Chinstraps that we have available.

      Also, I have listed a link that will provide more information regarding dry mouth/throat.

      https://www.cpap.com/cpap-faq/Common-Side-Effects#how-can-i-prevent-dry-mouth-with-cpap

      https://www.cpap.com/cpap-mask-parts/cpap-chinstraps

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

      We wish you the best!

Reply To Doug Williams Cancel Reply