American Sleep Association
Home - What Is Sleep Apnea? - CPAP Treatment - CPAP Side Effects

CPAP Side Effects

CPAP side effects

If you have sleep apnea and were prescribed a CPAP machine, you may have noticed some of the CPAP side effects that come along with wearing it. Recognizing what these problems are can help you to find solutions so you can wear your CPAP comfortably and get a good night’s sleep. 

Common CPAP Side Effects

Although CPAP therapy is one of the most successful methods for treating and reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea, there are a host of CPAP side effects that may follow after constant use of sleep apnea equipment. If you wear a CPAP mask and use a CPAP machine, these issues might sound familiar to you.


This is the medical term for eating or swallowing air. This generally occurs when the CPAP pressure is too high for you and can result in gas and bloating.


Wearing a CPAP mask can sometimes cause discomfort when trying to sleep. The mask can feel bulky and constrictive, and the hose can get in the way of trying to sleep in positions other than your back. Exhaling can also be uncomfortable if the pressure of the sleep apnea equipment is too high.


Many people feel claustrophobic while wearing a CPAP mask because the mask fits snug around your nose. The feeling of claustrophobia can be even worse for those who wear a full-face mask that sets around your mouth and nose.

Mask Leak

If your CPAP mask does not fit properly or isn’t properly cleaned, it can cause leakage. When there is a leak, there is a high probability that your CPAP machine isn’t able to reach its set pressure.

Dry, Stuffy Nose or Nosebleeds

Having a dry or stuffy nose is a common side effect of CPAP because air from the machine is being blown into your airway. This constant flow of air can also cause nosebleeds to occur.

Skin Irritations

Because CPAP masks fit snug against your face and are worn repeatedly, your skin can become irritated. This CPAP side effect can result in skin irritations such as rash or pressure sores. 

Dry Mouth

Suffering from a dry mouth is yet another common CPAP side effect for those with a full-face mask, as well as patients with a nasal mask who breathe out of their mouths. 


If a CPAP machine or CPAP mask isn’t properly cleaned on a routine basis, infections, such as lung or sinus infections, can occur.


Although headaches are not a common CPAP side effect, they can occur if the machine’s pressure is set too high or if you have a blockage in your sinuses.

Lung Discomfort

Some patients who use CPAP therapy complain of a burning sensation in the lungs. This is often a result of dry or cold air being inhaled from the CPAP mask. This CPAP side effect can possibly be reduced by using warm humidification.


Some complain of dizziness after wearing a CPAP mask. While the mechanism for this symptom is not clearly known, some believe that this might be due to the pressure change in the middle ear. The symptom should be short lived if due to CPAP therapy.

Shortness of Breath

While another common CPAP side effect is the complaint of shortness of breath, this feeling is usually sensorial. It is merely the sensation of not getting enough air because a functional CPAP machine never reduces the amount of air that can be inhaled.

Even though there are side effects related to using sleep apnea equipment, it’s important to be compliant with continuing to wear it. Not using your CPAP mask and machine as prescribed can cause larger, more severe health problems such as fatigue, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.

Woman confused about CPAP side effects

How to Prevent CPAP Side Effects

If you’re experiencing any of the CPAP side effects mentioned above, don’t give up on the treatment just yet. There are solutions to these common problems. Try these different strategies to reduce or completely halt your CPAP side effects.

Clean Your CPAP Regularly

Make sure that your CPAP mask and machine are clean. It is important to make cleaning your mask, tubing, and water chamber a regular habit to avoid any bacteria or fungi buildup. The CPAP mask and humidifier chamber should be cleaned daily with mild soap and water. On top of this, you should soak all of the parts in vinegar and water, using one part vinegar to three parts water. Follow this routine once a week. There are also sanitizing machines, like a CPAP cleaner, that you can purchase if you are having trouble keeping up with this cleaning schedule. 

Avoid Using Oily Products

Oily products like makeup or moisturizer can be a major cause of CPAP side effects. Remove any of these products from your face before applying your mask. Otherwise, the oil can build up on the mask if not cleaned daily.

Make Sure You Have The Proper Mask

CPAP masks are available as nasal masks, full-face masks, and nasal pillows because one type of mask isn’t suitable for everyone. Before choosing a mask, there are a few factors you should consider. Mouth breathing, claustrophobia, sleep position, and machine pressure are important areas to evaluate. These should be discussed with your doctor before choosing which type of mask you should be wearing.

Check Your Humidifier

If you’re having CPAP side effects relating to respiratory irritation, dry mouth, dry nose, or nosebleeds, check your humidifier to make sure it’s working properly. Also, as previously mentioned, make sure you’re cleaning it regularly.

Try Switching to Heated Tubing

Heated tubing warms the air traveling through the CPAP and can improve its temperature. The tube, filter, and mask are part of the CPAP supplies.

Consider Sinus Medication

If your sinuses are blocked, talk to your sleep doctor to see if you need a sinus medication to let your CPAP work more effectively and reduce your CPAP side effects.

Try Using Mask Barriers

Creating a barrier between the CPAP mask and your skin can help with skin irritations such as sores and rashes. There are barriers you can purchase that are sometimes made with gel or cloth. A hypoallergenic tape can also work to create a barrier.

Make Sure Your Strap is Secured

If your mask is strapped on too tight it can cause skin irritations. If it is too loose, it can cause a leak. Take the time to ensure your CPAP mask strap is secured properly to avoid any unnecessary CPAP side effects.

CPAP mask and machine

Adjusting CPAP Pressure to Avoid CPAP Side Effects

If the other methods don’t work to relieve your CPAP side effects, it may be time to adjust your CPAP machine’s pressure. Here are a few notes to remember when it comes to perfecting your CPAP pressure.

Make Sure You’re Using the Correct Pressure

Make sure the pressure on your CPAP machine is the pressure that was prescribed to you. If it is and you’re still having trouble with discomfort while exhaling, swallowing air, or feel the pressure may be too high, you may want to talk to your doctor to see if your pressure setting needs to change.

You May Need a New Pressure  

If you’ve gone through recent lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or drinking, weight gain or loss, or changes to your underlying medical condition (such as diabetes), some of the original symptoms of OSA may reappear, due to residual sleep disorderd breathing.  These changes to your lifestyle or medical condition may require a new pressure setting for your CPAP or BiPAP.  With advances in technology, an FDA cleared OSA test that can be done in your home, with the results interpreted by a certified physician, remotely.  If you think you may be suffering from residual sleep disordered breathing, click here to find a home sleep apnea test provider.  

Try Using the Ramp on Your Machine

When you use the ramp on your sleep apnea equipment, your CPAP machine starts out at a lower pressure and gradually increases until it reaches your set pressure. Using this gradual technique can increase your comfort level, as well as help you get used to wearing your mask each time you put it on.

Always make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your CPAP routine. Since the side effects of sleep apnea outweigh the CPAP side effects of using a CPAP mask and machine, it’s important to find a solution so you can wear your CPAP comfortably and consistently.

Philips Better Sleep Program


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

32 comments on “CPAP Side Effects”

  1. I am have been using a CPAP system for almost 9 years. For over a year now I wake up with coughing fits and sneezing after I take my mask off. Once I'm and mobile it all goes away.
    Any ideas how I can correct this?

  2. Can a Full Mask CPAP cause dental issues?

    I had bone grafts 11 years ago prior to having my orthodontist place braces on all 4 quadrants of my mouth immediatrely after the graft areas had healed.

    I now have serious bone deterioration in the implant area This is severe enough that I l require another bone graft if I want implants and braces again (my "bite" has changed so drastically). I'm on Medicare now and this treatment plan will be approx $12000 (out of pocket).

    ( of course like an idiot I rarely wore my my retainer).

    My "real" question is, Can severe "Dry Mouth" cause either of these bone deterioration / bite problems?

  3. I have dizziness.headaches.sore sinuses.ear popping.blocked nose at night.seems to ease for the first hour after waking up then all the symptoms come back be happening since I started using the machine 3 years

  4. I have a full face mask and a nasal mask I like them both I prefer the nasal but I have some congestion .Does Nasal mask cause more congestion than full face mask?

  5. I have extreme exhaustion after using it and I have a new mask. I have been wearing it for 3 yrs. My Dr thinks my exhaustion is caused by my mask??

  6. The biggest problem, NEVER REALLY FIXED, is dry mouth caused after 2 to 3 hours of the mask on.
    All so-called remedies are half baked. None I have seen fix the problem. The CPAP humidifiers, insuring no air leaks, use of oral mouthwashers, etc., etc. DO NOT FIX THE PROBLEM. 40% of users have this problem; this is a huge market for someone to target with a machine that super-humidifies so you can sleep a normal period with little or no drymouth.
    ResMed and other manufacturers' suggestions do not solve the problem. There is an opportunity for an enterprising engineer.

  7. Used cpap 8yrs,replaced with Dreamstatiom 2 weeks now, previous cpap setting
    all off. Going to sleep is comfortable and fast, staying asleep is short and not productive. Keep pulling off mask.Could hours of therapy operation
    be set to low, how 2 check and adjust?

  8. I have been using my machine for three years every night. Its great--stopped snoring and other assorted noises!. This past week however Ive had two nosebleeds--no warning.just hard flow for 1-2 minutes. Could this be cpap related? My pressure is steady at 5 or 5.5. Just curious.

  9. I already have a CPAP machine that I am using. I am interested in the Cleaning machine for the hose and mask.

  10. Iam using a RESMED CPAP for few years the last one I purchased in December 2018 . I get to sleep around 11.30pm almost I wake you around 1.30am for no reason .It takes me around one hour to go to sleep again .Need your help to skip the wake up .Please help me.

  11. DR Winger,I use folded tissue to reduce strap marks on my face. Could you share how you eliminated your face strap Marks?

  12. Several months back I bought a Clean Zone CPAP cleaner. My advice to anyone who is thinking of buying one...DON’T!!!
    In the months that I have owned this EVERY headstrap has stretched out completely. I called and of course they never heard of this. It is somewhat inconvenient, but I guess you can get used to it.
    Not worth the savings.

  13. Been wearing the CPAP system for 16 months....Hated the pressure, they say sleep on my back but can't sleep face up, I sleep on my side and positively hated the strap marks that it left on my face.


    Fully aware of the alternatives of NOT using it therefore I'm going to keep wearing it. I've done my best to deal with the strap marks I'm an inventor, therefore I have invented a system that TOTALLY eliminates the face strap marks but still trying to eliminate the red marks on the bridge of my nose (wear full mask, I'm a mouth breather). The red marks are tolerable, but I'm keep trying if invent a system to totally eliminate them, too. The Pressure (air escapes) was a problem but I have adjusted the pressure where it's now not a problem. Plus, I take a couple of pills before I go to bed and it's
    stops the Multy-bathroom trips down to a normal routine.

    I now sleep up to 11 hours a night and wake up refreshed.

  14. I am having a problem getting the hours in bc I don’t sleep well now because I can not leave the house. My general Physician said that if I get the virus pandemic I would probably die due to the continued weakness, inability to walk and sleep for the pain makes me sick physically. I haven’t been able to get my shots in my spine or knees due to the isolation. I was twice as paranoid and panicking last night. I am experiencing stuffy nose and phlegm. Up all night. Argh!!!

  15. Hi
    15 years ago l started using Cpap
    after a routine scan they doctors say l have tumours in my lungs
    and it looks cancerous
    can tumours be a side effect of prolong machine use ?

  16. I can't handle chin strap I have front rentals and it causes me to bit to hard on the dentures 2front..and i clean my tubing with mild hand soap daily sometimes I forget and its late by the time I clean tubing I have sinus problems is it from damp tubing?..i have hereditary sinus problems.i am worried I don't make enough hrs on day I've tried to wear but find im constantly putting on taking not a day sleeper..i have a wide face ..native bone I find it hard to find the right fit..back to nasal pillows and strap..cant do strap.i have front dental work.and I worry I'm going to mess up my dental work.i don't have money to fix.sinus infections a constant bother.

  17. My side effect is: Pimples
    Not fun. So I have two types. The Nasal Mask and a Pillow Mask. The Pillow Mask can cause a pimple inside the Nasal opening. The Nasal Mask can cause a Pimple around the bridge of my nose. I will switch Masks depending on the Pimples - usually every two months. I have minor pressure irritation on the seal locations but I expect that. I like the article.

  18. The side effects of CPAP Machine which you listed in this post are well researched. Also the way of your writing about how to Prevent from side effects of CPAP by adjusting CPAP pressure is very natural. Thanks for sharing this kind of useful information with the world.

  19. Good article to know about the CPAP masks and its side effects. It is a very rare content that describes this. I have been using [link removed] since last year. It is undoubtedly a good device for sleep apnea but now I believe I have dependency on this mask. In order to sleep normally I need to stop its use and find an alternative way to control sleep apnea. For that purpose this is a good article for me.

  20. I am using CPap. The pressure rises from 4 to 12. After getting upatabout 7 am, I feel giddiness (dizziness) for about 3 hours. Rest of the day I am fine.I do not have this complaint when I do not use Cpap. Does this mean that I should set my Cpap machine at pressure 4 or should I stop using it. Please advise.

  21. I have been useing CPAP for 3 weeks now haveing high blood pressure problems and swollen feet and ankles since been useing.

  22. I have been using CPAP machine for years. Recently it mal functioned. I have sent it for repair. I'm left with a strange voice. I love to sing and I am unable to project my voice. Normal talking is stressed and a different tone.
    Have you heard of anything like this happening before to any one else. Is there any suggestion for a solution.

  23. I've been having a dry cough for some time... I've had a cpap for 4 or 5 years. I think my voice box is part of my symptoms. I sound "gravelly" not like grave but rocks. I've been experiencing this since about the time I started useing my machine... Dr's. Can't figure it out.

Vitalsleep Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece

American Sleep Association® ASA does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. ASA has beneficial partnerships with corporations listed at: Terms of Use and Conditions, Privacy Policy

Join Our Mailing List

© 2020 American Sleep Association.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram