When you first wear a mask on your face, especially while resting, it is possible that you may feel odd or a little discomfort. After all, when it’s in use, your CPAP mask is strapped to your face, blowing streams of air into your mouth and airways to help keep your throat clear all night. This experience may feel unsettling for some users new to CPAP therapy.
Solution One: Try An Alternative Type Of CPAP Mask
For some patients, the mask’s design and size can be a little intimidating. This is more commonly true for full-face masks, because it covers a lot of your face while being a little heavy. If this is happening to you, we often recommend trying a different type of mask, known as a nasal pillow mask. They fit directly into the base of your nose with pillow-type cushions which seal around your nostrils. Many people prefer the nasal pillow masks as they are smaller, lighter and quieter.
These mask designs are ultimately less intrusive and make a user feel more at ease than the larger mask types, and many find they are able to overcome their initial claustrophobia by switching to nasal pillow CPAP masks.
Find more information about our pillows masks and our nasal masks.
Solution Two: Introduce The CPAP Mask In Stages
The solution may lie in breaking down the use of the mask into stages so you can get used to it.
Instead of immediately strapping the mask to your face and turning on the air – which can be quite intimidating – try simply holding it to your face first. Wait a few moments until you are comfortable with its presence. Next, turn on the pressurised airflow and slowly acclimatise yourself to that sensation too. After this, the next step is to finally strap the headgear on and see how you feel.
By breaking down the introduction of the mask into stages, you can ease yourself into getting comfortable with the mask. Give it a try and see if it helps!
Solution Three: Wear The CPAP Mask Outside Of Bed
If you’ve ever been skiing, or bought a new pair of hiking boots before embarking on a long trek, you’ll be familiar with the phrase ‘wearing in’. This process can also be applied to CPAP therapy. You can try wearing the headgear while performing daily tasks and chores such as cleaning, watching television or reading. The activity will distract you, while you get more accustomed to the feeling and weight of the mask.
Solution Four: Use The Sleep Onset Detection Function On Your CPAP Device
The Sleep Onset Detection feature is available on some CPAP devices. On ResMed devices, this feature is called AutoRamp. This function waits until it detects that you have fallen asleep before administering your overnight therapy. What this means is, while you are lying in bed with the headgear on, you won’t experience the full pressure of the air until after you have drifted off and no longer actively aware when the airflow increases. This can greatly ease the feeling of discomfort, while ensuring your treatment is effective. This can reduce the sense of claustrophobia by slowing increasing the air pressure, rather than having it on maximum all at once.
Solution Five: Take Small Naps With The CPAP Mask In Place
This is another way to get acclimatised to your CPAP mask in order to reduce the feeling of claustrophobia. Try napping with the CPAP headgear on for short periods on a couch or some other location that isn’t your normal bed. The shorter time and different location can allow you to feel more at ease about wearing it, and break down the sense of fear.
Solution Six: Speak To the team at ResMed UK
If you have tried the solutions above but you are still having issues with claustrophobia speak to our team or your medical professional about these issues. We’re available during normal office hours on 0800 917 7071. Our trained staff will be able to help you through.