Adjusting to CPAP Treatment

For many of you, being diagnosed with Sleep Apnea takes some adjusting to.  For many people, the diagnosis of sleep apnea may come as a complete surprise.  Is it no surprise then that sleep apnea is also known as the silent killer?

Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and provided with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) unit, it can take anywhere from a few nights to a few months to adjust to wearing the CPAP. Many people become discouraged fairly soon after starting CPAP treatment and give up on the treatment altogether.  Most truck drivers don’t have that option because for many  truck drivers, treatment of sleep apnea is not optional.

What you can do to help with your adjustment to CPAP:

  1. Try not to get discouraged when you initially start CPAP treatment- most people take a while to get adjusted to wearing a mask and having pressure flowing down your airway. Be patient with yourself.
  2. Set small obtainable goals – most people have a hard time reaching the desired 4 hours or more per night, so break it down.  If you struggle with CPAP treatment- try using it for 1-2 hours over a period of time and then slowly start to increase your usage.
  3. Practice makes perfect.  In order to increase your usage and improve your adjustment to CPAP- try using it when/if you take a nap or while you are reading a book/watching TV and sitting quietly.  The more acclimated you become to CPAP, the easier it is to adjust long-term.
  4. Communicate your CPAP treatment issues to the clinician assigned to help-coach you with your compliance.  Things like pressure and mask issues must be dealt with early on in order to give you the best possible chance at adjusting to CPAP.
  5. Make sure you are using humidification with your CPAP.  By far the most complaints I receive with CPAP intolerance are related to lack of humidification.
  6. Replace your mask inserts often- usually monthly if you are using your CPAP every night- an old cushion will affect how well your mask fits and seals to your face.
  7. Join a virtual- on line sleep apnea support group.  These forums are usually filled with a lot of information and personal stories of how other people overcame their own CPAP treatment struggles. For example: www.sleepapnea support.org is a great site for sleep apnea information and support.
  8. Above all, don’t give up hope- keep working on your CPAP issues- many people take 3 steps forward and 2 steps backward for a while until they have worked through their treatment issues.  Call your DME provider or support center for ongoing support and help…

Hang in there!!!!

Because your own personal CPAP journey can be so valuable to other newly diagnosed drivers- won’t you consider sharing your story with us?  How long did it take you to become adjusted to CPAP treatment?  What suggestions might you have for others reading this blog?  Please share your story….

Safe Travels- Katia