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“Why do I feel like I can’t breathe with my CPAP Mask on?” - CPAP Problems

Published on August 29, 2022

3 minutes

Have you recently had a sleep apnea test that determined you need to use a CPAP machine? You may have lots of questions and some apprehensions about beginning CPAP therapy.

One of the most common concerns for new patients is feeling like it’s hard to breathe while you have your CPAP mask on. Like many other sleep apnea patients, you may get a ‘panicky’ feeling right before bed, or feel anxious about having to put your mask on. Although adjusting to therapy can be difficult at first, there are ways to overcome some of the fear you might have while using your CPAP machine and soon, you’ll start to feel the benefits of a good night’s sleep!

Is your CPAP machine or mask causing that “I can’t breathe” feeling?

CPAP masks come in many different styles, and so do CPAP machines. While having a lot of choices may be a good thing, it can be overwhelming for sleep apnea patients. Your doctor as well as your VitalAire healthcare team are here to support you and will make sure you have the right equipment and settings to ensure you are getting the most effective and comfortable therapy.

Like many new lifestyle changes, it sometimes takes a bit of trial and error before your body is able to adapt. To help you adjust to your CPAP therapy, here are a few tips to help you feel less anxious and breathe easier at night.

  1. Lay in bed and unwind for a moment before putting on your CPAP mask. 
  2. Slightly lower the humidity of your CPAP machine.
  3. Check your CPAP mask for leaks.
  4. Gradually increase the pressure on your CPAP machine with a RAMP function.

The mind is a powerful thing. If you go to bed feeling anxious about your inability to breathe using CPAP, it may exacerbate the problem. Sometimes the easiest answer is to stop overthinking it.

Overcoming the challenges of breathing on CPAP

If you’ve tried the above remedies and are still having issues with your CPAP mask or machine, it may be time to consider some alternatives, such as:

  • Taking another sleep apnea test.
  • Purchasing a CPAP machine with CFLEX (Respironics) or EPR (ResMed).
  • Trying a different style of CPAP Mask.
  • Experimenting with different CPAP Supplies such as a Nasal Pillow.

If your therapy issues persist after trying 1 or more of these tips, please seek professional medical advice.