I Need Advice from Those of You with Sleep Apnea...

Updated on March 25, 2011
C.M. asks from Cincinnati, OH
6 answers

I was recently diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and last Friday I got the Bi-PAP machine (like the CPAP, but it has two different air flow pressures). With it I have the full face mask. After a few nights, I can seriously say I HATE IT! Last night I got so frustrated with it I gave up and didn't use it. I know that I have to do this or risk very serious health issues, but right now, I don't know that I can force myself to do it. When trying to adjust the mask, it either puts too much pressure on my nose and sinuses and it hurts or it leaks out around the chin. If heaven forbid I get it adjusted just right, I will shift positions slightly and the problem will start over again. Also, I am a side sleeper and the mask gets in the way and makes it uncomfortable, but lying on my back is just as uncomfortable, if not more so. In addition, since starting the machine, I have been waking up with a HORRIBLE backache (at least the two mornings after I used it all night). My whole back was very sore and stiff making it very difficult to get up and start moving.

Do you have any advice? Is there something I am doing wrong? Is this just the way it is and I have to learn to suck it up and live with it?

There is one other issue that I somehow forgot to mention. I am getting a lot of air into my system. As I am trying to go to sleep, I feel as if I have to belch, but I can't. Then, in the morning, I am deflating like a balloon. Pppppfffffffft! Help me please!

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answers from Boston on

There are many different masks, and the company that provided the machine should be sending someone to help you make the right choices. That may mean trying on a couple of different masks. I have a CPAP but the masks are the same as for a Bi-PAP. Some of the masks did irritate my skin so it pays to try a couple. I am a side sleeper and the mask shouldn't get in the way - try a different pillow. The pillows that are really firm sometimes press up against the mask and cause them to shift, which makes air leak out. The mask should not be pressing on your nose at all unless you are using the "nasal pillows" type, which I found useless and uncomfortable. If it's pressing on your sinuses, it's too tight, so loosen the straps. The best one I've found is with a very soft and pliable triangular shaped mask attachment - it shifts with my movement. Once you get the right mask, you shouldn't be holding yourself in one position, which is why your back is a mess.

Your doctor should be writing a prescription for the mask of your choice, and setting you up with a respiratory company who will send a rep to your house. I would lie down on the couch or even on top of your bed and roll from side to side as you do at night, and tell the rep what happens to the mask when you do that - which side it's leaking on, where it hurts, and so on. If you're uncomfortable having a stranger in your bedroom, have a friend or family member with you.

Also, the machine may not be set correctly - it should be double-checked at the same home visit.

I also found greater relief through nutritional supplementation which reduced the severity of my apnea, and I sleep much better. I'm working my way off the machine at this point.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I've never seen the machines and even though they sound like a nightmare, my guess is that you will get used to it eventually? Is this temporary? Like without getting too personal are you on a quest to loose wt along with this and this will only be for a little bit? Not that all sleep apnea is weight related but I know it can be...the only reason I am even answering this at all is because my dad died when I was 11 because he wouldn't wear the mask... the sleep apnea caused problems w/BP etc and he eventually died in his sleep. Im not trying to freak you out or anything, but as an adult I wish he would have just worn the damn thing and/or committed to losing weight. So I do think it is so important that you wear it... hopefully it will be one of those things were it becomes "normal" for you to sleep on your back and it gets more comfortable if this is a forever thing. Hugs to you!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

Put a pillow under your knees to help with your back. You will get used to your machine eventually. Give it time. Seems like I've see a commercial about smaller masks.... google a few terms related to your machine and maybe you'll find something that will be more comfortable for you.
Go to a local medical supply store and explain your dilemma, they might have the cure right there, just make sure you take your model number with ya.



answers from Portland on

Oh, sweetheart, you have my sympathy. The problems you mention are common. Everyone I've ever talked to who uses either-pap has had an adjustment period that can, in some cases, take months. Many folks have to experiment with a number of different masks before they find one that works well for them. Quite a few people eventually give up.

There are alternatives to the machines that include surgeries. I heard once of a custom dental device that can help position the jaw forward. Here's a list of news articles, some pretty recent: http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=sleep+apnea

I've had apnea for decades and can't even approach the idea of using a C-pap. I can't even afford the sleep study, because my high-deductible insurance won't pay for it, and drains my small budget. But with experimentation, I have found that raising my head with a fairly high bolster pillow under my jawline makes obstructive apnea virtually disappear (does not work for central apnea). My neck gets achy some nights, and my ear gets very sore from the increased pressure, but those are relatively small annoyances compared to what my C-pap friends describe.

I suggest that you find an online apnea support group, where experienced folks can make suggestions and answer a lot of your questions. I wish you a future of better sleep.


answers from Lafayette on

I've never had the full mask. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea when i was 17. and have a bi-pap to use. I actually currently don't use it, because i don't have insurance and i need new parts. But i might try talking to your doctor about getting a nasal only mask. they tend to be more comfortable from what i'm told. i also started sleeping on the edge of my pillow when sleeping on my side, so it wouldn't affect the mask as much.

if you need a full mask, maybe they have a different material or something. i use gel masks and it helps to form a seal. good luck! if have any other questions, or just want to vent about the stupidity of the machine i will listen. send me a pm



answers from Seattle on

I got the dental device and I have to say I haven't been very compliant with it. It forces my jaw forward in an uncomfortable way and I don't like the way it is stretching my face. It is better than CPAP though. I plan to recommit to it as soon as I get over this annoying cold.

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