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Long term side-effects of cpap machine

September 27, 2023

Most medical experts agree that Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP, therapy is the best option for treating sleep apnea. However, it’s important to note that despite the benefits, it takes some time to get used to sleeping with the machine and you may experience a few common side effects.

These side effects are often frustrating and uncomfortable, and many people will stop using their machines because of them. However, if you have the appropriate information and tools, you can address these issues early, increasing your chances of long-term success with CPAP.

Who Should Use a CPAP Machine?

  • CPAP therapy is often recommended for people who have sleep apnea, a condition involving interruptions in breathing while sleeping. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, choking/gasping for air, irritability, chronic fatigue, difficulties with memory/concentration, and sore throat/dry mouth.

    CPAP therapy offers several benefits, including:

    • Improved sleep quality
    • Reduction in daytime fatigue
    • Reduced risk of heart attack and stroke
    • Improved blood sugar management in diabetic patients

8 Common Side Effects of Using a CPAP Machine

While a CPAP machine can be helpful in treating the symptoms of sleep apnea, there are several common side effects:
  • Dry Mouth: People who breathe through their mouth while sleeping- whether with a CPAP mask or not- are likely to develop dry mouth. This can lead to additional issues including an increased risk of mouth sores, bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay.
  • Dry Eyes: Typically, dry eyes are associated with CPAP air leaks due to improper mask fit. However, you may also experience this because your sleep apnea treatment is not effective.
  • Headaches: While CPAP treatment can reduce sleep apnea headaches, some people still get headaches. This is often due to the air pressure being too high, over-tightened headgear, or sinus congestion.
  • Shortness of Breath: Some struggle to exhale against the air pressure, which can cause shortness of breath. Typically, this will resolve as you adjust to breathing with a CPAP machine. In some cases, this happens because the pressure is too high, and the machine needs to be adjusted.
  • Claustrophobia: For some, wearing a CPAP mask triggers feelings of claustrophobia and anxiety- especially a traditional-style mask. Typically, this is either due to the size of the mask (full-face versus nasal pillow) or a reaction to having your face covered.
  • Aerophagia: Some people swallow CPAP air while wearing the mask. This is known as aerophagia and can cause gas/bloating. This usually happens when the air pressure is too high, or you are mouth breathing.
  • General Discomfort when breathing: While the air pressure can make it easy to breathe in, you may struggle to exhale when you first start to use your machine. In most cases, the exhalation pressure is too high, or you just need time to get used to using the machine.
  • Nasal Congestion: CPAP therapy can cause dry nose, which can lead to sinus congestion, nosebleeds, and infection, and may impact your sense of smell. This may be due to a lack of humidity in the air or the CPAP air being too cold.

Long-term Side Effects of Using a CPAP Machine

In addition to the above side effects, there are several long-term side effects associated with using a CPAP machine, including:
  • Inhaling hazardous gases: If you do not clean your CPAP regularly, bacteria can collect, causing mold to develop. When this happens, you’re breathing in hazardous organisms that can make you sick.
  • Reduced face growth: In some cases, children who use CPAP therapy may experience a reduction in facial growth due to the pressure of the mask on the nose.
  • Middle-ear pressure and discomfort: There are two reasons this may occur:
    • Air pressure isn’t high enough to keep airways open
    • Air pressure is too high preventing the equalization of pressure between the airways and the ear canals
  • Tooth Problems: Side effects such as dry mouth can lead to issues including gum disease, bad breath, and tooth decay.
  • No improvement in sleep apnea: CPAP is usually effective for obstructive sleep apnea. If you are not seeing any improvement in your symptoms, you may have central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea, which usually means you need a different approach.


If your medical provider has recommended CPAP therapy to treat your sleep apnea, you may have some questions or concerns. Feel free to address these with your medical provider and team. Below are some of the most common questions about sleep apnea and CPAP therapy.

Most of the current research on CPAP and metabolism indicates that CPAP therapy can actually improve metabolic rates. However, the findings are preliminary, and more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition, which means that it cannot be reversed, and you will never be cured. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk factors.

While CPAP is typically the go-to when it comes to treating sleep apnea, there are some exercises you can do that can help. Full-body workouts such as cardio and yoga can reduce your risk factors. However, you may also wish to include respiratory support exercises that work your throat, tongue, soft palate, and respiratory system. The good news is, these exercises can be done at any time- and you won’t break a sweat.

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