Introduction to CPAP Machines
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are a common treatment for sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders. CPAP therapy works by using pressurized air that is pumped through a hose and a mask to keep a person’s airway open during sleep. CPAP machines can be very effective in helping reduce nighttime breathing issues; however, some people may experience uncomfortable side effects such as dry mouth.
Why CPAP Machines Cause Dry Mouth
As the pressurized air in a CPAP machine moves through a person’s nose or mouth, it can dry out the tissue. A CPAP machine also changes the level of pressure in the mouth, which can affect the salivary glands and reduce saliva production. Low humidity can also cause the air to be dryer, leading to CPAP-associated dryness. In addition, people with obstructive sleep apnea often breath through their mouth as well as their nose, and mouth breathing can increase dryness from the air escaping through the mouth.
How to Treat Dry Mouth From CPAP Therapy
Experiencing dry mouth from using a CPAP machine can be uncomfortable, but there are strategies to help mitigate this issue. It is important to talk to a doctor to understand the cause of dry mouth and to find the best solution. Below are some possible solutions for alleviating dry mouth from CPAP therapy.
- Increase humidity - Try raising the humidity in the bedroom by using a CPAP-specific humidifier or a portable humidifier.
- Use a lip moisturizer - Before putting on the CPAP mask, spread a thin layer of lip moisturizer on the lips, and keep lip balm nearby to apply moisturizer throughout the night if needed.
- Try a different mask - A full-face CPAP mask can be helpful for people who struggle with sleep apnea stemming from mouth-breathing.
- Talk with the doctor - A doctor or sleep therapist can help people learn how to use a CPAP machine correctly and identify the best mask when experiencing dry mouth.
- Change the air pressure - Talk to a doctor about changing the pressure setting on the CPAP machine to reduce dry mouth.
- Adjust the pressure settings every few days - Air pressure settings should be adjusted every few days during the first month of CPAP therapy.
- Get tested for obstructive sleep apnea - People who have refractory dry mouth and mouth breathing may need to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea.
- Quit smoking and use of alcohol - Quitting smoking or limiting alcohol consumption can help reduce dry mouth.
- Drink more water - Staying hydrated during the day can help keep saliva production high.
- Consider non-CPAP therapies - Working with a doctor can help identify non-CPAP treatments for sleep apnea, such as dental appliances or surgery.
CPAP-associated dry mouth can be uncomfortable, but there are strategies to help mitigate this issue. However, it is important to talk to a doctor first to understand the cause of the dry mouth and to find the best solution. Depending on the circumstances, the doctor may suggest increasing the humidity, trying a different CPAP mask, or adjusting the air pressure. Other solutions include quitting smoking and drinking more water. In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe non-CPAP treatments for sleep apnea. While CPAP therapy can cause dry mouth, it is an effective treatment for many people and the side effects can often be managed.