If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you are very likely to be prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as a treatment. However, spending the first night with a CPAP machine and getting used to it can be a little intimidating and challenging. In order to adapt to using this therapy machine, you will have to employ some effort. Let’s take a closer look at the recommendations on how to get used to CPAP therapy, what are the hurdles you have to overcome, and what you should expect from this treatment.
Obtaining a CPAP Equipment
Prior to using CPAP, you will have to be evaluated by a physician in a sleep clinic and undergo a sleep study. This will help in determining the severity of your sleep apnea. Consequently, the physician will probably suggest continuous positive airway pressure as the best treatment option.
This is the time when you’ll be required to make several decisions in order to obtain the equipment. One of the most crucial considerations is the pressure setting for the machine. It is usually determined either with a second night in-center titration study or your physician selects a pressure or a range of pressures based on your estimated needs. The titration study involves a sleep tech who adjusts the pressures so you sleep apnea is resolved and it’s usually recommended for people with severe health issues.
Then, you will get a written prescription for the CPAP equipment. Your physician can prescribe a fixed pressure CPAP, AutoCPAP (APAP), bilevel (BiPAP or VPAP), or a more sophisticated therapy known as adaptive servoventilation (ASV). Moreover, the prescription might also specify a brand, specific CPAP masks, chinsraps, and heated tubing.
Furthermore, you will need to take the prescription to a durable medical equipment provider of your choice. However, you have to make sure that the DME company is knowledgeable about sleep equipment. Thus, you will schedule a visit and obtain the CPAP equipment. The visit usually takes about an hour and you are introduced to the machine and you get fitted with a mask. Make sure you choose a mask which is comfortable. So, as soon as you get all the necessary information and support, you will be allowed to take the CPAP machine home.
Bringing Your CPAP Home
Bringing the machine home might feel very exciting as it means that you’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed. You will need a couple of minutes to put everything in place so you can get started. First, decide where you will place the CPAP machine in your bedroom. It should reside close to the bed and it should be plugged it to a power source so a nightstand is a good choice. Finally, you should fill the humidifier tank with distilled water and it’s ready to be used for the first time.
The First Encounter with CPAP
As you have already tried the mask and it was fitted at the DME office, you won’t have issues putting it. Put the mask, but make sure the straps of the headgear aren’t too tight. Next, turn the machine on by pressing the power button. You can then go to bed and relax. Moving can feel intimidating, but you will get used to it and overtime, you will be able to move more freely.
Breathing out against the pressure of the CPAP can be challenging at first. Thus, you should close your mouth with a nasal mask, or the air will escape from it. Breathe out through your nose despite the resistance. When breathing in, you’ll feel like the machine is giving your breath an extra boost.
If you have a full-face mask, you can breathe through your nose or mouth. It will take a while until you get accustomed and adapt to it more easily. Moreover, falling asleep might take some time when first using CPAP. So, make sure you go to bed at least 1 hour later than usual in order to fall asleep faster. You should also adjust your mask properly to prevent pressure sores or pain on your ears or face.
Tips on How to Get Used to CPAP Therapy
There are a number of tips and recommendations you should consider if you want to get accustomed to CPAP therapy easily and make the whole process hassle-free. So, we decided to share several tips on how to get used to the CPAP machine and have an easy-going treatment.
Choose an Equipment Provider to Supply Your CPAP
First and foremost, you should select the supply company for your CPAP machine. The sleep specialist might provide a list of supply companies. The equipment provider you choose should help you to get set up with the therapy you have been prescribed. The provider you choose has to fit you with your first CPAPmask and deliver excellent customer service.
Approach CPAP with a Positive Attitude
It’s very important to approach CPAP therapy with a positive attitude and an open mind. Hence, start the treatment with a mindset that it will be a helpful experience which will provide plenty of benefits. Don’t think about the possible hurdles, but think that you will overcome every obstacle on the way. Focus on thinking that this device will improve your life and your sleep, as well as, your overall health.
Select Your First CPAP Mask and Get it Right
In order to start with the treatment, you have to first choose a CPAP mask and get it right. This means that you should select a mask which fits your needs and the anatomy of your face. The mask you choose will determine the level of success of the treatment. It is recommended to choose a small mask, such as a triangle-shaped external nasal mask or nasal pillows, which can reduce air leaks and pressure marks on the face. Thus, make sure you try the mask in the store and have it fitted properly. However, if it still doesn’t feel comfortable when you get home, you can change it in the first month.
Practice Makes It Perfect
As soon as you bring the CPAP equipment home, it’s best if you practice using it before actually going to bed with it. Doing so will help you get used to it as wearing it for the first time can be a very uncomfortable and intimidating experience. Many people even suffer from insomnia at the beginning of the treatment.
Hence, before using it for the whole night, practice with it. You can first try it in the living room while watching TV or listening to music. Start by holding the mask up to your nose while the machine is off and keep extending the amount of time gradually. Continue this process until you feel comfortable with wearing the mask.
Then, you can connect the mask to the tubing and CPAP machine and turn it on. It is very possible that the device will start at lower pressure setting and increase gradually. Hence, you’ll be able to fall asleep easier and get used to it. However, if you feel the pressure is too high, you can reset the machine and the pressure will lower again. Keep taking slow and deep breaths and feel how the air pressure fills up your lungs. You might experience some resistance as you breathe out, which will get easier over time.
Make sure you take full and even breaths while keeping your mouth closed. While still practicing to use CPAP, you should do something to distract your attention, such as watching TV, browsing the web or listening to music. Doing so will help you be more relaxed when you start using CPAP while you sleep. Don’t feel pressured to start using the machine at night. Instead, you might need some more time to adjust. Many people need a couple of days before actually starting to use the CPAP machine at night.
Get Help If You Run into Difficulties
If you encounter some kind of difficulties, you should get help as soon as possible. The quick and timely intervention will correct all issues and your therapy will be more successful. Stay in touch with your physician and equipment provider who will help you with a quick intervention if you experience any issues.
Getting used to CPAP therapy might require some time at first. However, it is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea you should try.