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Just been diagnosed, issues with mask tightness
Hi all,

First off, I'd like to thank to all of the people who have posted on the forum, it's made for reassuring reading as to what's been quite an upsetting experience.

I was diagnosed yesterday with Sleep Apnea, after staying in over night in hospital, and it was all a bit of a shock. It didn't help that I was only with the Doctor about three minutes, before he pushed me out of the door with a CPAP machine. I was shown how to use it by a junior Doctor though, albeit very briefly, and last night had my first night using a CPAP machine.

It took me a long while to get used to it, a good hour, as I've always breathed through my mouth at night, but eventually I got to sleep and only woke up twice. After about six hours though I found that the mask felt really tight and painful, I tried to adjust it so it wasn't on so tightly (the way the Junior Doctor had originally set it up), but that led to the nasal mask not being tight enough and oxygen leaking, and after a while I ended up giving up for the night.

Has anyone else had problems like this? Is it a natural part of getting used to the CPAP machine? Even now my nose feels quite sore, which is frustrating and unpleasant, but I'm hoping it's something which can be resolved somehow.
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Hi alexinlondon,
I can relate to your post. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, there doesn't seem to be much support after that initial sleep test. You may have to contact the Junior Doctor and try a different mask. No, it's not natural to be in that much discomfort, but it does take time to get used to CPAP treatment. Some people adjust right away, and others take a few weeks or longer. Don't give up! Also, you should fill out your profile in more detail, like full name of machine and mask and what pressure you are set at. It would be easier for all the more experienced folk here to help you if they can see what you are using. Best of luck.
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Welcome to the forum!

Adjusting mask tension can be counter intuitive. Wisdom would dictate that if it leaks then it's too loose. However, the full face and nasal masks employ a silicone air seal technology. The trick is basically to put the mask on very loose. Let down on your back in a reclining position. Now turn the CPAP on if you haven't and, while lying down, slowly tighten the lower straps until the mask stops leaking. Once you have the leak controlled tighten the upper straps to maintain its position. The air pressure will force the silicon seal to conform to your anatomy. Having it too tight will not allow it to extend.

I hope this has helped. Keep us posted to your progress. Oh!, I almost forgot; When you have to opportunity, please fill out your profile with the Resmed mask & CPAP model names and the pressure(s) assigned. They may be needed for further help.
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I'd go along with sgearhart. The trick is not ot have the mask on too tight, but to have an even tightness all round the seal. As it ceases to be new, you'll get used to the strange sensation of brathing against pressure and be more relaxed about mask adjustment.

Don't be upsef about your diagnosis, it's probably saved your life.

Good luck with the treatment.
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Thanks for the replies, it really is appreciated, and I'll have a go at altering the mask until I'm more comfortable with it later tonight.

The breathing against pressure thing really was annoying too, it's a weird sensation, but hopefully I'll get there in the end.

And I've updated my profile a little, in that the machine is a Resmed S9 (and issued to me by the NHS in the UK), but I can't find out the air pressure, and aren't sure how to. I've read up a lot about people downloading their information to their PCs, but my Doctor said nothing about that, I just have to take my CPAP machine in to the hospital with me at my next appointment in March, and they'll take a look at the data then apparently.
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Others have given you some good suggestions. You mention breathing through your mouth. Has anyone, maybe Jr Doc, told you about chin straps?
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Hi alexinlondon,
WELCOME! to the forum.!
CPAP therapy can take some getting used to but, just stick with it, it will get better.
Hang in there for more responses to your post and much success to you as you continue your CPAP therapy.
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(01-31-2015, 09:29 AM)alexinlondon Wrote: After about six hours though I found that the mask felt really tight and painful, I tried to adjust it so it wasn't on so tightly (the way the Junior Doctor had originally set it up), but that led to the nasal mask not being tight enough and oxygen leaking, and after a while I ended up giving up for the night.


Not knowing you therapy pressure, it is difficult for me to make any concrete suggestions. If your pressure is high, you will be forced to tighten your mask tighter than most of us would like. Often the pattern of strap tightness is as important as the actual tightness.

Go at the strap tension setting slowly and methodically. Do not tighten more than necessary but do not be afraid to tighten as much as you need.

I have a problem when trying to set my strap tensions. When I hear or feel a leak, I want to fix it immediately. I have to counsel myself to be patient and kind of ignore the leak sounds.

What are you using to judge your leaks? Sounds and feeling? Frowney face? Leakage rate?

Best Regards,


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Hi Alexinlondon,
There are many wonderful advisers on this board so you've come to the right place. There are also many of us newbies and nearly newbies like myself, who are only a little ahead of you, by a month or two. While we don't have the experience, know how, wisdom of the advisers, you can take heart that we have our victories and set backs and that many of us are adjusting from okay-wonderfully. I think staying with the board is a definite key to many succeeding. Keep your eyes open to see if there are local support groups in person as well.

I lived in Scotland for three years and am familiar with some of the pluses and minuses of being in NHS though did not have c-pap at the time. I have several UK friends who are on c-pap and doing well.

There is an excellent thread who's link I don't have here, on how to get the best fit on your mask...There is a steep learning curve with this process but I'd say the rewards are HUGE even if one doesn't "feel" them, to one's health, and many many folk FEEL better over the weeks and months of their first year. You will get there!!! Congrats on your first night. It is an exciting journey...even a bad night, can be followed by your best night yet, as I've just experienced!

The Manse Hen
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If your using a nasal mask (not pillows) I would suggest the F&P Eson nasal mask. It is IMO the most comfortable, best sealing and loosest fitting mask on the market.

Its actually sort of hard to accept how loose it can be and still handle higher pressures. Ive subjected mine to a full 20 cm just to test it out and though fitted very loosely still seals fine.
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