Tips for Learning to Tolerate BiPAP and CPAP Machines
Last updated: February 2022
So, you have qualified for BiPAP or CPAP. Your doctor believes it will help you sleep better at night and feel better during the daytime. Here are some tips to help make your BiPAP/CPAP experience work better for you.
A quick review of benefits
Why has your doctor prescribed CPAP or BiPAP? This is important to look at because it can help you see how using your device can improve your life.
CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is one type of machine that you might be prescribed. CPAP machines provide constant pressure during inspiration and expiration.
This pressure acts as a splint to keep your airways open while you are sleeping. It splints your upper airway to prevent it from collapsing which prevents periods of apnea. It also splints your air exchange units to keep them open so your oxygen levels stay in the normal range while you’re sleeping.
BiPAP, or bilateral positive airway pressure, is another type of machine you might be prescribed. These machines offer two pressures. The first is called EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure). This pressure is the same as CPAP. It acts as a splint to keep your airways open. The other pressure is IPAP (inspiratory positive airway pressure). This pressure assists you when you inhale. It assures all of your breaths are effective.
So, both of these products help you breathe better at night so you feel better during the day. They can help you live better, and live longer, despite your diagnosis.
Worried about it bothering your partner?
Don’t fret. While older CPAP and BiPAP devices may have been loud, most modern devices are almost silent. I have had wives or husbands tell me that their spouse’s machine is so quiet they barely even know it’s being used. This is a nice benefit as you don’t have to worry about your machine keeping up your spouse or partner.
Have trouble tolerating your device?
Here are some tips to help you get used to it.
- Be aware of the benefits. This is a simple one. Just know why you are trying to get used to your new machine. This can surely motivate you to give it a gallant effort.
- Take advantage of it. Your doctor has prescribed you your machine so you can appreciate the benefits noted above. Your insurance has offered to pay for it, or at least assist you with the payment. So, you have your machine. Take advantage of this opportunity to help you feel better and live longer.
- Wean yourself into it. I have had some patients say they wore it the whole night the first night and slept better than they ever have in their lives. Although, most patients find that they need time to make the adjustment. Many patients have said they greatly benefited by slowly weaning themselves into it. For example, you may set a goal for one hour the first night, and two hours the second night. From there you gradually increase the hours you wear it during the night. After a while, you will be used to it and find that you tolerate it fine the entire night.
- Know there are many different masks to try. Your provider may offer you more than one type of mask to try, and chances are there are many others your provider has access to that may be the perfect mask for you. There are full face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillows - and there are many more options than just those. So, if you don’t like the mask you are currently using, call your provider to see if there are other options you can try. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error with different masks to find the one that works best for you.
- Talk to your CPAP/ BiPAP provider. Usually, these are home healthcare companies. If you continue to have problems, talk to the people who provide you with your equipment. They are experts at helping people new to CPAP and BiPAP machines adjust to their new equipment. If you have any questions at all feel free to call them at any time. They are there to help.
Basic tips to help
These are tips based on my 25 years of experience working with patients who wear these devices. In fact, many of these are tips came right from my patients themselves. So, these are things that you can try. These are things that I have seen work.
What about you? Do you wear CPAP or BiPAP? If so, do you have tips for those who are new to these devices? Please let us know your tips in the comments below!
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