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Top Reasons People Are Quitting CPAP Therapy

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Consider this situation: a patient with a diagnosis of obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) arrives for a follow-up appointment. While speaking with the doctor, the patient announces that they are quitting CPAP therapy. This scenario happens often. Some patients want to stop therapy because they feel unable to tolerate it.

OSA is usually considered a lifelong condition, and data on unresolved OSA has shown the adverse physiological effects that can occur when Sleep Apnea treatment is stopped. Clinicians realize that follow-up appointments about CPAP therapy are necessary to ensure compliance with treatment.

Here are some of the top reasons Sleep Apnea patients are quitting CPAP therapy and a few suggestions on how to overcome these pain points.

Waiting Too Long Can Lead to Not Starting CPAP At All

Research has confirmed that the longer you wait to start CPAP therapy, after diagnosis, the more likely Sleep Apnea therapy is delayed all together. The pattern of CPAP use (or nonuse) is established shortly after diagnosis.

Patients must actively participate in their own treatment or CPAP will not provide effective therapy.

If you are newly diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, make sure that you get started with your CPAP equipment and therapy as soon as possible.

Discomfort with CPAP Equipment = Quitting CPAPthinking about quitting cpap

The CPAP mask may feel too large, small, or tight which can leave red marks on the face or give a feeling of claustrophobia. The CPAP air may be blowing too hard or it may be leaking out of the mask. Whatever the issue, there are lots of people who just can’t find comfort using CPAP equipment and therefore discontinue use.

At CPAP.com we have come to realize that Sleep Apnea patients don’t often know that they have a lot of choices when it comes to CPAP equipment. Usually they think they are stuck with the one CPAP, APAP, or BiPAP machine or mask that the durable equipment manufacturer (DME) supplied to them. And that is simply not true. When it comes to CPAP equipment, you have lots of options.

There are a number of solutions to the most common CPAP discomfort issues. CPAP supplies like mask pads or CPAP chin straps may be purchased to help with CPAP mask comfort.

Excess Air in the Stomach Can Be a Huge Pain

CPAP users who experience belching, stomach bloating, stomach distension and agonizing gas pains may be suffering from aerophagia. It’s the medical term for the phenomenon when air enters the esophagus, goes into the belly and causes bloating.

Aerophagia and stomach bloating is more common than you might think and it’s a subject that most don’t feel comfortable talking about.

But this side effect of CPAP use is important to discuss because with a few changes to CPAP therapy, it can be resolved.

Here are a few things that could cause this & suggestions on how to fix:

  • If your CPAP pressure is too high then the extra air that is blowing in the machine has nowhere to go except your stomach. Discuss your CPAP pressure with your doctor to see if you can get it decreased.
  • Contrary to above, your CPAP air pressure could be too low and doesn’t give you the needed support to help your Sleep Apnea events, so you gulp air quickly in an effort to get more into your lungs. Just like the above discuss this with your doctor to see if you need a higher pressure setting.
  • You may find it difficult to exhale over the constant pressure of the air delivered by a CPAP machine. Inhalation of a high pressure may be easy, but exhaling is more difficult. When this occurs, the patient may fall out of the natural rhythm of breathing and hyperventilation may occur. This can result in quick sucking in or gulping of air, and that air may be forced into the esophagus rather than the lungs. Available on most CPAP machines is a comfort feature called expiratory pressure relief. Depending on which brand of machine you have, it may be called CFLEX, AFLEX OR BIFLEX. This feature automatically reduces air pressure upon exhale and can help reduce or eliminate aerophagia.

Contact CPAP.com and see if this feature is enabled on your CPAP machine.

Dryness of the Nose & Throat Can Be Irritating

To one degree or another, CPAP air is an irritant to everyone. This irritation may build up over time or be a factor as soon as CPAP therapy begins.

CPAP air may:

  • Dry out the nasal passages and cause bleeding and/or swelling
  • Produce excess mucus, cause congestion, and/or sneezing
  • The nasal irritation also creates a very fertile ground for infections

Using humidification will add moisture to the CPAP air, therefore CPAP humidification is a critical part of CPAP Therapy.

Humidification is an added comfort feature, and although it increases compliance in most patients by making CPAP therapy more tolerable, a humidifier is not a requirement for CPAP therapy. So check your CPAP machine to make sure that it came with a humidifier.

There are two types of CPAP humidifiers

  1. Passover Humidifier or “Cold Humidifier”: Adds a chamber of water to the machine. The air picks up the available moisture as it “passes over” the water in the chamber.
  2. Heated Humidifier: This type of CPAP humidifier sits on a heater plate. The increasing temperature of the heater plate heats the water in the chamber and adds moisture to air flowing through.

Don’t Quit Your CPAP Therapy

There are many other reasons people are quitting CPAP therapy. Hopefully this list of the top four demonstrates that with every problem, there is a solution. So don’t give up. Nothing compares to the enhanced quality of life that a good night’s sleep will bring you when you continue your CPAP therapy!

Have you experienced any of these symptoms and want to share any tips you have for overcoming them? Let us know in the comments section.

  • Daniela Brannon

    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.

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36 Responses

  1. my CPAP puts water in my tube and comes through my nose it is drowning me. so they told me to use it without water.yes, I have it lower than my bed.

    1. Hi Lois,

      The water in your tubing is caused by the cooling of the air as it travels from your humidifier to your mask. The secret to stopping the water (called “rainout”), is to either use a heated hose or use a hose cover, like SnuggleHose. This keeps the temperature of the air more or less constant and stops the rainout. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

  2. I’m using Myair. I told my doctor that I don’t have sleep apnea, but rather dyspnea, but she seems to think that the study revealed that I have sleep apnea. I believe the study was skewed because of my gasping for air, (due to a paralyzed diaphram) registered it as an apnea event. 2nd: I wasn’t told that I had to register first to get my results, and wasted a whole night of no data, ineffectiveness and discomfort. 3: airplane mode seems counter intuitive. Do I turn airplane mode on or off to get it to work? 4: Why can’t I get results directly from my unit, and how does it count up the hours? Does it restart every night, or when I turn it off? 5: It’s kicking my air up to level 15, and pushing so much air down me, that it’s coming through the sides of my mask. My mouth is like a blow fish. Why did my doctor even recommend me this crappy device.

  3. I am quitting my CPAP because I suffer from occasional insomnia and when my readings showed I was only using the machine 60 percent of the time Medicare will no longer pay for it so I am returning the machine because I can’t afford to pay for it myself. Besides I am 65 yrs old and I will not be dictated to about my sleep schedule. I felt better before I started this thing anyway. The test was rigged because I didn’t sleep the whole time but they said I had 17 apnea episodes. As far as I can tell this is just another medical scam perpetuated buy the makers of these machines and some big pharma alarmests.

  4. I am having ENT issues: wet ear, sinus pain, top teeth ache intermittently; and now ocular migraines. Don’t know if related but had now of these before latest mask change to amera. Had chronic corneas irritation before this .

    1. Hi Gerry, I am sorry to hear that you have developed medical issues since starting your CPAP Therapy. I would encourage you to speak with your doctor about the symptoms that you have developed. For starters, you may want to try a mask other than the Amara since this seems to be around the time you developed additional problems. Also, make certain that you do not have any mask leaks and have your doctor re-evaluate your pressure settings, just in case your machine is set too low, or too high, it can be adjusted.

      We wish you the best!

  5. I have stopped using my CPAP because I get terrible runny nose with sneezing after about 3 days using the equipment. This runny nose/sneezing lasts for about a week. I have tried cleaning hose & mask every day. I have not yet purchased the CPAP cleaner advertised on TV and probably will not as I have heard too many negative comments. I used the nose pillows.

    1. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing some difficulties with your CPAP Therapy. Are you using a heated humidifier with your CPAP Therapy? If so, you may want to consider making some adjustments to your settings. If the problem persists you may want to consider using a nasal mask instead of the nasal pillow also.

      Please see the link below for additional information.


      If you have further questions, or concerns please contact us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      Have a great day!

  6. I am really allergic to the silicone or whatever the nasal pillows and masks are made of. I have tried all three types of masks and I have hives, itching and welts wherever the equipment touches my skin. Me sleep physician says he can’t figure it out. I got all new equipment, a So Clean system, and I have tried everything. I am not using my machine now. After a week off of the machine my face is healed up. I have done several cycles of this. I always breakout from even the straps holding the masks onto my nose. Has anyone else experienced this.

    1. Hey Sally, i’m sorry to hear that you are having some problems with being able to tolerate your CPAP masks. I have spoken with a customers that has sensitive skin and experience rashes. Usually, mask liners can assist with this, but since you are having issues with the straps as well, I am not certain.

      Have you tried any of the cloth masks? Please click on the link to view some of the cloth masks that we have available. I cannot say that these will be any better for you, but it may be worth a try.


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

      We wish you the best!

    2. I.have spent one month on full mask vpap. Then Dr. Switched me to madal.pillows. I’ve had a rash and hives on my shoulders and back. Is it possible it’s my CPAP????

      1. Hi P. Schluter, whereas, I am unable to rule out the possibility that the rash and hives are caused from your CPAP, I can say that it is unlikely. I’ve heard of someone developing a rash on their face from the mask, but not other parts of the body. I would recommend, you speaking with your doctor about the rash and hives that you are experiencing on your back and shoulders.

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

        Enjoy your day!

      2. I’m having same problem. I’ve recently started using cpap machine and develop unexplained hives and itching. I stopped using CPAP for a day and hives dissapeared; but mask on and cycle starts all over again
        My doctor says its impossible to be allergic to mask… I’m seeing an allergist next week, but definitely something is wrong with mask.

        1. Hi Elba, you are definitely, making a great decision by seeing an Allergist. I hope your Allergist, is able to resolve the unexplained hives and itching that you are experiencing.

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

          We wish you the best!

  7. The CPAP makes me Zombiefied. This is NOT a “good night’s sleep”. I’ve struggled with it for almost a year, life was much better without it. It’s going in the trash soon.

    1. Hi Don, I am sorry that you are not getting good sleep while using your CPAP Therapy. Have you spoken with your doctor about how your therapy makes you feel? It could be that making adjustments to your settings would allow you to feel more rested after using your CPAP Machine.

      If you would like to speak with us further regarding possible setting adjustments, or anything else, 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!

  8. Significant Weight gain is a common problem and there is now a clinical trial to learn more info about this side effect. For people who are obese, they can lose weight however if weight was not an issue in SA, beware the weight gain. A oral appliance supposedly does not have this side effect. Just read about it to make an informed decision. Weight gain and sleep apnea are both hazardous to health. Just be aware if you see that scale creeping up as it goes on easy but come off much harder.

  9. I’m experiencing difficulties with my Bi-PAP therapy which is making the treatment marginally effective. There is no problem with the Bi-PAP machine – the problem is with the mask. I’ve tried a multitude of masks and so far have found only one that is comfortable enough to wear. The problem I’m experiencing is that as a stomach sleeper I’m face down on the pillow which during the course of the night causes the mask to shift which results in noisy air leaks that awaken me. The only way to keep it from shifting is to make the straps painfully tight, but then I awaken from the discomfort. What’s so frustrating is that if I was sleeping on my back there would be no issue, but as a life long stomach sleeper I can’t suddenly become a back sleeper (I simply will not fall asleep and stay asleep that way). It seems like the designers of CPAP/BiPAP equipment gave no thought whatsoever to the unique issues of stomach sleepers. I’m about ready to punt on the whole thing.

    1. Hello, I’m sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time in finding a mask that works well for you as a stomach sleeper.

      Don’t punt the whole thing yet, depending on the type of mask you are wearing, we may be able to offer some suggestions on a different mask that best fits your needs. Please reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, so that we may better assist you.

      Enjoy your day!

  10. Using CPAP for mild sleep apnea (ahi 9). Started 4/2/19. Using faithfully 4-7 hrs night. Bur my poor sleep of 6 restless broken hours before CPAP is now sleep deprivation with sleep of 2-3 hours bbroken up. I wear it to read myself to sleep–1.5 mg xanax and the book allow me to fall asleep 2-2.5 hrs after going to bed. I sleep about 1-1.5 hrs and wake up with hose caught, air leak, sound from air vent or sweaty.
    Awake for 1-1.5 hrs. Repeat CPAP issue. Alseep 1.5 hrs.
    I no longer feel safe driving I am so sleepy, I go nowhere socially-too crabby and tired, make myself to daily things and cry a lot.i dread going to bed. I am 70 and my life if worthless.

    1. Hi Geraldine, i’m so sorry to hear that you are not getting the sleep that you need and deserve. Keep in mind that you are fairly new to CPAP therapy and it may take more time for you to become acclimated with your treatment.

      I have found that having the correct size mask with a comfortable fit, is key to successful therapy. You mentioned that you are awakened by air leaks sometime. What type of mask are you using? Is the mask the correct size? Are you comfortable wearing the mask in general?

      If your hose is getting caught, or tangled up, you may consider the HoseBuddy. See the link below for the product I’m referring to.


      I understand that the sound coming from the machine can be bothersome at times. Which machine do you have? Some machines have very little sound such as the DreamStation, or the AirSense 10. If you have an air leak coming from your mask, or hose, the machine will be louder than it would otherwise be. Some folks use earplugs to avoid being awakened by the machine sounds.

      Waking up sweaty, is common in un-diagnosed Sleep Apnea patients, but receiving CPAP therapy, usually decreases the sweat instances that you have. Please see the link below to see what other users are saying about sweats.


      I would strongly recommend you speaking with your doctor about all of the symptoms and lack of sleep that you are experiencing. Even though you may feel that the therapy is not beneficial to you, please, don’t give up, you will start to feel better and get better sleep once you have a comfortable, non-leaking mask.

      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 us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      We wish you the best!

  11. I have used my cpap since 1985 I am now 69 and 90 lbs lighter, by chance I went camping and I had to go without my crap for several days and did fine. I would love to be weaned off my machine how do you do that. After 40 years I panic at the thought of not using it. How do you transition away from it

    1. Hey Sarah, congratulation on your weight loss and your many years of successful therapy! You should never stop using your CPAP machine, unless you do so under guidance from your doctor.

      Have you had a recent sleep study? If not, I would recommend you speaking with your doctor about a having a new study to determine what level your Sleep Apnea is at. Your doctor would then provide you with medical advise to if you can stop using the machine, decrease use, or if you would benefit from different settings.

      If you would like to speak with me further, please feel free to call 1-800-356-5221 and ask for Carol.

      Have a wonderful day!

  12. Unfortunately for me it has held my cdl hostage. I haven’t worked in 3 months. I haven’t used my cpap in almost a year. I cannot use that thing. I’m more tired using it. If there was a way I could sue, for being forced to have it I would. Because I can’t pass my dot physical without the cpap readings.

    1. Hi David, I’m sorry that you are having such troubles with your CDL. What are your hardships with using your CPAP machine? Sometimes taking small steps such as switching to a different mask, adjusting comfort settings on your machine, or speaking with your doctor about pressure setting changes can make using your CPAP machine more tolerable.

      You can speak with your doctor about alternatives to CPAP therapy as well. If you would like to speak with us regarding the difficulties you’re experiencing with using your CPAP machine, we would love to hear from you. Please call 1-800-356-5221 ask for Carol, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com, Attn: Carol.

      Best Wishes!

  13. I have Dreamstation BiPap auto with F20 full face mask. I had ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage/ stroke. Put on BiPap and oxygen in ICU in February. Home in March with oxygen, sleep study done, BiPap ordered and back on BiPap at the end of June. Index has been all over the place since then. Average AHI is 11.7. Dr. asks what I think we should do. DME says there is no way to do mask comparisons because Medicare won’t pay for that. So I can buy masks and pay $160 to $200 for each mask to give it a try? That just doesn’t sound reasonable to me. I pay between $50 to $80 a month for what I have that doesn’t work. Can anybody say scam?

    1. Hi Mary, I’m sad to hear that you’re having such problems with your therapy. You may have your doctor review your sleep therapy data, to determine if a setting change is required to help decrease the number of AHI’s.

      Whereas, CPAP.com, doesn’t work with, or accept any insurance, most Medicare plans do have limitations on how many masks they will cover.

      With CPAP.com, you may try multiple masks under our free 30 day return policy. If you purchase a mask with us and don’t like it, simply return the mask using the e-mailed return label. Once we receive the mask back in our warehouse, you may receive a refund, or select a different mask (prescription required). You may find that purchasing a mask from an online company, is less expensive than your local company also.

      If you would like assistance with selecting a different mask, or have any other 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!

  14. Coming up on year three of attempting to adjust to CPAP therapy. I cannot tolerate a full face mask, have tried several and the nasal only leaves me waking up constantly with a belly full of air and clogged sinuses. I have tried so many different styles of masks I have lost count. My machine is a top of the line bi-pap with all the bells and whistles and I clean it and change out both filters twice as often as recommended and replace all components often as well. The sleep specialist I check in with yearly just apathetically tells me to keep trying. The only way I can log in the minimum time to keep insurance coverage is to wear the device when I am reading or watching tv or knitting. What is the sense of prolonging a life made miserable by this device? I will no longer regard myself as a CPAP failure, but rather a CPAP survivor. I hope the technology improves and stories like mine and the ones I’ve read here become a thing of the past. Those of you who have adjusted successfully are lucky and I hope your much healthier hearts are filled with gratitude. Peace.

    1. Hey Jill, i’m sorry for the delayed response. It sounds like you’ve had a tough time with your CPAP therapy and i’m sad to hear that. Is there a particular difficulty you’re having with using a full face mask, or do you just not like anything covering your face completely?

      I’m Claustrophobic, so I had a difficult time becoming acclimated with wearing a full face mask also. However, after trying the nasal and nasal pillow masks, I found that with my sinus problems the only type of mask that would work for me is a full face mask.

      Please see the link below to view a few masks that I have managed to tolerate. Not sure if they will work for you, but its worth a try!


      If you wish to wear a nasal mask, you may try using a nasal rinse before and after sleep to help with the conjestion. I’ve linked an option below, but if your mouth falls open during the night, you must wear the nasal mask in conjunction with a Chinstrap.


      Also, the belly full of air you referred to sounds like you may be experiencing Aerophagia, swallowing too much air. There are a couple of suggestions for this problem such as, speaking with your doctor, to see if you would benefit from having your pressure setting lowered. You may try different sleeping positions as well. First, try sleeping as flat as possible, even without a pillow. If the bloating persists, try sleeping on your side or elevated. The position must be different from your current posture.

      I would encourage you to visit our cpaptalk.com forum, as there are a lot of long time CPAP users there that have experienced the same problems you are having and can offer valuable advice. Keep in mind that each individual person is different and whereas, some may adjust to their therapy right away, others take longer, or may never really adjust.

      One of the most important aspects of having successful CPAP therapy, is to have a good, comfortable mask. If you would like assistance in selecting a different mask that may work better for you, or any other questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      Don’t give up on your therapy, we wish you the best!

  15. Just getting adjusted to CPAP ResMed Airsense 10 and a 30i nasal mask after starting with a F-10 mask. I start out fine, felt the mask was a good fit. Dozed off and awoke to the feeling of having my head in a shop vac. Squealing sound from mask. “This cannot be right.” I say to myself. So I talk to the “provider” who advises me to keep at it. I mention the wind tunnel but she’s not buying it. Feels the problem is my beard and leakage. After a few days of progressively worsening sleep I take it upon myself to lower the top end pressure from 20 to 15. Same array of symptoms from popping ears to windy eyes but I did make it to 7 hours of use somehow. Reported this to my provider. She was noticeably unhappy with my decision to lower that top end pressure so I turned it back up to 20. Took my stuff in and she gave me the nasal mask. Absolutely nothing good happening. Feel like my cheeks are like Dizzy Gillespie (or for you non-jazz enthusiasts, like a blow fish). Someone tell me why I can’t just turn down the pressure and gradually add pressure once I get acclimated? I’m getting close to becoming one of the 50% that quit this because my sleep has become really lousy.

    1. Hey Douglas,

      My apologies for the delayed response. It sounds like your having a tough time with your CPAP therapy, sorry to hear that. To answer your question, the reason you shouldn’t change your pressure setting, without the guidance of your doctor, is because if your pressure is set too low, you aren’t receiving the therapy you need and if the setting is too high, it could cause other health problems, such as issues with your lungs.

      I would however, encourage you to continue following up with your doctor and ask to have your therapy data viewed to see if you would benefit from a setting change. Also, please make sure that you don’t have any mask/hose leaks, as this will cause your machine to blow more air than you actually need.

      Please keep in mind, the key to successful therapy, is having a good, comfortable mask. I understand you’ve already tried a couple of masks, but most CPAP users, will go through several masks, before they find one that is best for them.

      I would also encourage you to visit our cpaptalk.com form. You can receive a lot of valuable suggestions/feedback from some long time CPAP users.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, for assistance in selecting a mask that may best fit you, or for any other questions, or concerns.

      Don’t give up on your CPAP therapy, have a wonderful weekend!

  16. After 2 1/2 months using c-pap i started to sleep excellent, better than I had in years. I fell asleep on my back and slept for 7-8 hours without moving, felt like i’d only been sleeping 10 minute, it was great. But as soon as I stepped out of bed an overwhelming tiredness hit me, my lungs felt like i just went on a 7 hour jog. Was incredibly tired all day. My episodes per hour were excellect, between 0.5 and 2.5. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Ryan, congrats on getting some good sleep! I’m sorry to hear about the tiredness, you are feeling. Please keep in mind that it takes time to be come acclimated with your therapy. Your body is still getting use to the great sleep you are now receiving.

      I would however, recommend you keep your doctor in the loop of the symptoms you are feeling. Your low AHI indicates you are benefiting from your therapy.

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

      Enjoy your day!

  17. I hope someone can help… I’m a 32yr old single father, yes very overweight a problem I have tried to deal with for years to no avail, both my parents and their parents are rather large.

    I have been ordered to use a CPAP due to severe OSA but I’m having alot of difficulty. To start with I have a deviated septum and regularly suffer sinus problems. I use a full face mask as I breath through my mouth most nights due to this, however, my mouth dries out alot and so does my nose to the point I now have multiple blood noses each day. And I do have a humidifier but it doesn’t help.

    I also have trouble sleeping due to the force of air coming through. Whilst using the ramp feature I can tolerate it but often it doesn’t last long enough for me to get to sleep.

    When I do get to sleep with it I can only manage two to three hours of sleep before I can’t sleep with the mask any longer due to migraine. I’ve been told told by the sleep nurse there is nothing more that can be done but if I don’t improve to at-least 4hrs of sleep each night I’m going to loose my license and that will mean that I will loose my daughter as I live in a remote area and will be unable to provide for her without a license.

    Any help will be appreciated.

    1. Hey Matthew,
      I’m very sorry to hear you’re struggling. There are a couple of troubleshooting tips we can suggest, but this is best achieved over the phone.

      Please give us a call at: 1-800-356-5221, ask for Carol, or anyone would be able to assist you.

      We hope to hear from you soon!

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