Our readers are invited to email us with their questions!
Q: How can I tell if my CPAP pressure needs adjusting? (Elizabeth K.)
A: Elizabeth, not enough air pressure from your CPAP equipment will also lead to ineffective therapy. Generally, you will need enough pressure to keep your airway open rather than collapsing, ensuring you get the oxygen your body needs throughout the night.
Many CPAP users whose pressure is too low will experience more than five apnea or hypopnea events per hour, meaning their therapy is ineffective. These users will continue to experience the negative effects of sleep apnea, including poor sleep, waking up gasping for air, feeling air-starved, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, and others.
Another sign your air pressure may be too low is continuing to snore loudly during your CPAP therapy. Proper air pressure should keep your airway open through the night, so if you're still snoring while using your CPAP machine, and your mask isn't leaking, then your pressure may need to be increased.
Finally, CPAP users with low pressure can experience aerophagia, as gasping for air during the night causes them to "swallow" air into their stomachs. As with aerophagia caused by pressure that's too high, these users will have problems with bloating, gas, discomfort, and excessive belching.
Q: I've been consistent with my CPAP treatment. How come I'm still tired? (Abby U.)
A: Abby, the science explains that there is a residual sleepiness in some patients with sleep apnea, which takes time to disappear.
Or there could be hidden problems that directly affect your therapy that may or may not be connected to your CPAP.
Your CPAP could have a mask leak, or the device may not be putting off enough air pressure for you to experience benefits. In these cases it's a matter of consulting with your Sleep Doctor for a solution.