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Can't get used to using CPAP
#1
Last night was my 3rd night using a CPAP machine and it's just been miserable. I might be able to get used to wearing the mask but it always feels like I'm fighting to exhale. I wake up during the night feeling like I'm drowning so I start to panic until I take off the mask. If I'm still waking up several times a night, what's the point of wearing this thing?

Hopefully, I can talk to someone in the office tomorrow when they open and get some answers.
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#2
Welcome to the Apnea Board! It can take some time to get your mind used to sleeping with the mask on. Some people take longer than others, but 3 nights is not anywhere near long enough to decide that you can't get used to it. It is not unusual for you to feel worse for a while before feeling better. It can take months to reach full benefit, your mind needs to adjust and your body needs to recover from what has been done to it.

Some questions:
- do you have EPR set-up on this machine?
- do you not have a humidifier or are you not using it? A lot of people, myself included, find that a humidifier makes the experience much more pleasant
- when you feel like you are drowning, what is the pressure?

Your machine is set to go up to 20 which is a LOT of pressure to get used to in the first days. Have you had a sleep study, or is this being used to find an effective pressure?
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#3
If you are fighting to exhale, it is likely that 'EPR' or 'Expiratory Pressure Relief' is turned off. Someone at the office an fix this tomorrow, if you can bring the machine to them.

Or you can click the link labeled "CPAP Setup Manuals" at the top of the page, and do two things: first, read about how to enter the Clinician's Menu, and then request the Clinician's Manual using the email link. The clinician's menu allows you to make many useful comfort related changes, and also, of course, the prescribed therapy settings. The clinician's manual will tell you the difference.

I will suggest only a few comfort changes at this point; the above mentioned EPR, and the data display in the Sleep Report. Believe me, you will be more comfortable knowing what your machine is doing each night.

When enter the clinician's menu, 'My Options' will change to 'Settings'. Click on that, and the next to top item will be 'Therapy'. We won't touch those items now (maybe later, once you learn to understand the data the machine can give you). Scroll down until 'Comfort' is at the top of the screen. The next two items are Ramp Time and Start Pressure; factory defaults are 'Auto' and 4. These work, sort of, and you aren't reporting a problem falling asleep, so we can leave them for now... Below them you will see EPR, EPR Type, and EPR Level. You change these be clicking on each in turn. Change EPR to 'On', EPR Type to 'Full time', and EPR Level to '3'. This will give you the maximum relief all night long; it's a good place for beginners to start.

Back to the Ramp Time and Start Pressure. The Start Pressure is lower than the Therapy pressure to (presumably) make it easier to fall asleep. Many adults find that starting at 4 either leaves them feeling air starved or having to work to get enough air. Changing that to 6 usually helps that quite a bit. Having Ramp Time set to Auto means the machine will stay at the starting pressure until it decides (from your breathing pattern) that you are asleep, and then it will increase the pressure to your therapy level. If you set a time (from 5 to 45 minutes), the machine will use that time to slowly change from the starting pressure to the therapy pressure. You will arrive at your treatment level sooner, and may get better sleep as a result. Remember, this is a Comfort setting.

This seems long and complicated, but it isn't, really. Welcome to the forum, and the best of luck in adapting to CPAP.
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#4
I forgot about the data display...

After finishing the EPR settings, scroll on down to Options. Below it is 'Essentials', probably set to 'On'. Now 'essential' is a synonym for 'minimum possible', and, since you are now a forum member, you will want more. Change it to 'Plus', and now the sleep report will give you useful information each morning.

I will let somebody else tell you you should download and use SleepyHead (or ResScan). Smile

By the way, it took me at least a month to get used to using CPAP, and six months before I actually noticed that I was feeling better each day.
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#5
(06-05-2016, 12:19 PM)nubbin00 Wrote: Last night was my 3rd night using a CPAP machine and it's just been miserable. I might be able to get used to wearing the mask but it always feels like I'm fighting to exhale. I wake up during the night feeling like I'm drowning so I start to panic until I take off the mask. If I'm still waking up several times a night, what's the point of wearing this thing?

Hopefully, I can talk to someone in the office tomorrow when they open and get some answers.

First, Welcome to the Apnea Forum Nubbin00! This is a great place to get all kinds of support with this "new journey" not to mention opinions, find what fit most of your needs.... Patience is the key with air being forced into your face, as well as wearing something ON your face as well. Give your brain some "desensitizing exercise" like just wearing the mask without the PAP on, during the day, watching TV, or relaxing, do timed naps say 20 minutes with the PAP on.... It does take time, and everyone is different, hope this helps a tad-bit.

Confusedleep well:
I enjoy being with a group who like to share their "Hosehead" experiences, to remind me I am not alone.
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#6
Hi nubbin00,
WELCOME! to the forum.!
I know, CPAP therapy can take some getting used to, but just stick with it, you haven't been at it very long.
Here's what you can do, wear your mask and use your machine during the evening as you read or watch tv to help you get used to this new way of sleeping.
Hang in there for more responses to your post and much success to you with your CPAP therapy.
Good luck and don't give up, it does get better.
trish6hundred
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#7
Keep at it and play with your comfirt settings. temperature, humidity and mostly epr. use sleepyhead software to make sure you dont leak. I felt like you at first but its amazing how your body can adapt to it. After a month I actually now look forward to putting my mask on. Sometimes I cant even tell if the pressure is on or not.
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#8
Yeah, it is funny the rapid transition from "just been miserable" to "look forward to putting my mask on" once you get everything dialled in. It can take a lot of time to get it all right, but it is worth it.
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#9
Wow, thanks for all the advice and suggestions!

To answer some of your questions:

Yes, I did an at-home sleep study in order to get the machine.
I don't know if it has EPR, I will find out and see if I can adjust it.
It does have a humidifier but I'm still getting a really dry mouth when I use the mask.
The recommended pressure is 8-20 but I can set the 'ramp up' function so it starts out at 4.
I was able to get into the Clinician's Menu on the machine and reset the pressure to 4 instead of 8. Hopefully, once I get used to using the mask, I can increase the pressure gradually until I'm back up to 8.
Still haven't had a full night on the machine and still feel like I'm fighting to exhale but not sure how much of that is real and how much is in my head. Time will tell.

Thanks again for all the suggestions!
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#10
nubbin00,
You can set the ramp to start at 4 for a short period of time. It will ramp up to your minimum pressure of 8.

I don't agree with setting your minimum pressure to start at 4 if you were recommended a setting of 8. You will be comprising your therapy by doing that, not to mentioned you will feel air starved.

As far as EPR, this is a comfort setting and will help you on exhaling. I would set it to 3.

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