Alaska Sleep Education Center

Side Effects of CPAP and How to Deal with Them

Posted by Daniela Brannon and Jennifer Hines on Feb 14, 2020 10:27:32 AM


As a CPAP user, you may be  familiar with some common CPAP side effects that can hinder your compliance with CPAP therapy. They may seem like minor annoyances, but they’re side effects you don’t have to deal with! Hopefully, these remedies will have you snoozing soundly with your CPAP machine!

Headaches in the Morning

Headaches are not common in the way of CPAP side effects unless sinus related issues cause them or your pressure is too high.

When your CPAP is blocking a part of your sinus cavities, it can create pressure between your sinus cavities, leading to a headache.

Try over the counter medications to help open your sinus passageways and give you sinus congestion relief. Another solution could be to add a heated humidifier to open your sinus passageways during treatment. If you’ve tried these solutions and still have no relief, it may be time to contact your ENT for further advice.

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Dry Mouth

If you’re waking up with a dry mouth, it’s likely you’re sleeping with your mouth open, which can reduce the effectiveness of your CPAP treatment. Luckily, there are three easy solutions for CPAP dry mouth you can try right now. The first solution is to check your mask for leaks. If your mask is over six months old and leaking, you may want to replace it. If it’s brand new and still showing signs of a leak, try adjusting your fit. If you use a full face CPAP mask and see no sign of a leak, consider a heated humidifier to add moisture and relieve your dry mouth. If you’re using a nasal mask instead of a full face mask, try using a chinstrap to keep your mouth from dropping open as you snooze.

If none of these solutions work for you, try looking into masks recommended just for mouth breathers.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes may not seem obvious when thinking about common CPAP problems, but it can happen! If you’re waking up with dry eyes, you may have a leak in your mask at the bridge of your nose. This could cause the air to seep out right around your eyes, causing excessive dryness. This just means it’s time for an adjustment!

We don’t recommend tightening your mask, but rather adding a nose cushion or nasal pillow to help keep your mask flush to your skin.

If this doesn’t work, you may need to resize the mask, as your current mask may be too big or long for your face.


Bloating and Gas

Nobody wants these CPAP side effects! If you feel bloated first thing in the morning, as if there is air in your stomach, you may be swallowing the CPAP air. While there’s not a medical solution for this, you can try adjusting your sleeping position.

The first position we’d recommend is laying as flat as possible – even without a pillow. If this doesn’t work, try sleeping on your side or elevated, whichever is different from your current sleeping position.

If changing your position doesn’t work and you’re still feeling very bloated, speak to your doctor about lowering the pressure in your CPAP treatment. While this may slightly increase your number of apnea episodes in a night, the relief it provides to your bloated stomach may be worth it!

Dry Nose and Congestion

As far as Sleep Apnea machine side effects go, this one is easy! Waking up with a dry nose or congestion are both common side effects of CPAP use and usually just indicate a simple lack of humidification. The air your CPAP blows through your nasal passages can irritate your passages and cause them to dry out or bleed. Dry or cracked passages are uncomfortable, but can also put you at a higher risk of contracting an infection. On the other hand, your nasal passages may try to protect themselves by producing excess mucus, leaving you with congestion.

For either of these CPAP side effects, a heated humidifier can add the moisture your nasal passages need to reduce or eliminate the irritation.

If you’re already using a heated humidifier, try out a higher setting. If this doesn’t work, you can also try using a soothing nasal gel.

Breaking Out Around Nose

If you’re finding redness and bumps around your nose after using your CPAP, there are three things that could be happening. 1) Facial oils are building up under your mask, 2) your mask is too tight on your face, or 3) you’re having an allergic reaction to the mask material. Here are some possible remedies for these CPAP side effects.

CPAP user and his wife are getting the restful sleep they need.To minimize facial oil buildup, make sure you’re washing your face before putting on your mask at night. In the morning, when taking your mask off, make sure you’re cleaning the facial cushion, so oils don’t sit on the mask and end up back on your face. If, after a while, you’re still getting breakouts, try out a nasal pillow mask that is designed to have less direct contact with your skin or a mask liner.

If the redness and bumps are found below your nose, or around the bridge, it could mean your headgear straps are too tight. The pressure of this tightness will create sores and possibly a bruise, even open sores, if left untreated for too long. If you’re over-tightening to prevent a leak, you should consider switching masks. When adjusting your mask, make sure to make small and consistent adjustments, working clockwise around the mask, to prevent uneven tightness.

Finally, if you’re experiencing breakouts with a new mask, your skin could be reacting to the chemicals used to manufacture your silicone mask.

Most of the time, these chemicals degrade over time and eliminate the problem on their own. However, the easiest solution is to soak your mask in warm, soapy water to help remove the chemicals before use. This method works with all types of masks and can be used with replacement parts as well, but prolonged soaking could reduce the lifespan of your silicone.

We hope these solutions to less common CPAP side effects help ease your discomfort. Remember, your CPAP therapy is worth a few minor inconveniences!

Are you looking for CPAP equipment? Visit and of Alaska Sleep Clinic's four locations. 

If you are new to CPAP or wondering if you need to use CPAP at all, download our FREE Intro to CPAP e-book simply by clicking the link below.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, cpap machines, CPAP therapy

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