What Are the Dangers of CPAP?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping condition often associated with obesity, although it can occur in healthy people as well. This disorder causes pauses in breathing throughout the night, as often as 30 time per hour in extreme cases. The result is poor quality of sleep which ultimately causes drowsiness during the day. One of the most common treatments for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure machine, generally referred to as CPAP. Most patients can be treated successfully with CPAP, but there are some dangers associated with the machines.

  1. Feeling of Claustrophobia

    • Some patients exhibit feelings of claustrophobia from the CPAP face mask. This feeling may cause slight panic or anxiety in some, which makes it difficult to sleep. A lightweight mask can help reduce the feeling of claustrophobia, but may not completely prevent the problem.

    Facial Sores

    • The regular pressure from a CPAP mask can eventually cause tenderness, blisters or raw skin on the face. This is especially common on the bridge of the nose. Aside from the discomfort of this problem, open sores can potentially become infected if not properly cared for. A padded mask can help reduce the chances of sores, but may not prevent them altogether.

    Respiratory Problems

    • Infections of the respiratory system can occur if the CPAP components are not regularly cleaned. This problem may be more prevalent in heated CPAP machines that add humidity to the air as the extra warmth and moisture create prime conditions for bacteria. An overall discomfort throughout the chest and lungs is common, often as a result of an increase in lung volume.

    Dry Air

    • CPAP machines that blow dry air can cause dryness in the mouth and throat. The dry air can also lead to excessive nasal congestion, which makes it more difficult to breathe through the nose. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, severe nose bleeds can also occur as a result of this, although it's rare.

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