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Sleep Apnea Solutions

Are CPAP Machines Dangerous?

Serving Patients in New Jersey

For years, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines was the widely used treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. Although effective, these machines have the reputation of being uncomfortable and disruptive. Research shows CPAP machines also come with certain risks and possible side effects. Before choosing a sleep apnea treatment, get familiarized with the risks and side effects associated with each.

CPAP Machine Side Effects

CPAP machines force pressurized air through a hose and mask in order to open up the airways and improve breathing during sleep. In most cases, CPAP machine side effects and problems disappear after continuous treatment or with adjustments to the mask and/or the amount of pressurized air the machine delivers.

Side effects of CPAP machine use may include:

  • Sores and irritation from wearing the mask
  • Congestion
  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Dry mouth
  • Nosebleeds

These side effects often occur during early treatment with CPAP. But if these symptoms continue to occur they can become severe and increase the risk of throat infection, sinus infection and conjunctivitis.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your CPAP Machine?

To avoid infections, it is important to clean your mask and filter daily in order. Be sure to read your CPAP instruction manual for proper cleaning and maintenance instructions.

CPAP Dangers & Risks

Risks are rare but include stomach discomfort and bloating. If you experience any one of these complications, stop using your CPAP machine immediately. One potentially fatal danger of CPAP use is the development of meningitis.

Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the lining of the spinal cord and brain. This complication is very rare, but is potentially fatal. Meningitis associated with CPAP use nearly always results from an untreated sinus infection. Symptoms of meningitis that are considered a medical emergency include:

  • Severe headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Vision changes
  • Stiff neck
  • High fever
  • Vomiting

Some patients experience claustrophobia (the feeling of being closed in) when using the CPAP mask. In these cases, it may be best to use a different type of mask or perform relaxation techniques before bed to help alleviate anxious, claustrophobic feelings.

Comparing Sleep Apnea Treatments

Thanks to the latest advances in sleep disorder treatments, CPAP machines are not the only treatment options available for sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves wearing a removable oral appliance when sleeping. Oral appliances fall into two categories: mandibular-repositioning devices (MRDs) and tongue-retaining devices (TRDs). Both MRDs and TRDs work to keep the airway clear during sleep, allowing for unobstructed breathing. Each sleep apnea treatment option comes with its own set of benefits and limitations:

Health Side EffectsSkin irritation, sores, congestion, headaches, runny nose, dry mouth, nosebleeds, infectionsDry mouth, tooth and jaw discomfort, temporary bite changesDry mouth, tooth and jaw discomfort, temporary bite changes
BenefitsNon-invasive alternative to surgeryPortable, comfortable to wear, non-invasivePortable, comfortable to wear, non-invasive
Other Side EffectsBulky; some patients report it being disruptive and uncomfortableSlight, temporary soreness in the jaw and mouthSlight, temporary soreness in the jaw and mouth

Learn More From Drs. Ivan & Allan Stein

With over 20 years of experience treating sleep apnea, Drs. Ivan & Allan Stein of New Jersey Sleep Apnea Solutions is the trusted choice for patients in New Jersey and the surrounding area. Drs. Stein can go over the benefits and limitations of each treatment option in detail with you during a personal consultation. To schedule an appointment, call us today!