Troubleshooting Guide

So you’ve gotten your CPAP machine and begun your treatment but you’re having some difficulty? You may be experiencing some side effects if your CPAP machine is not set up properly so we have put together this simple trouble shooting guide to help you narrow down what the problem could be.

Difficulty exhaling

It is not uncommon for patient to find the prescribed CPAP pressure hard to tolerate during the initial start-up period. Usually exhaling against the positive pressure is the most common complaint. Recent advancements in CPAP technology have improved this problem. Newer machines are now available and they cycle with your breathing, making the use of CPAP more comfortable and easier to use. Remember, an adjustment period is necessary, practice, patience and persistence will pay off. Solutions: Practice using your CPAP machine in the daytime, possibly while reading or watching TV. Take slow deep breaths through your nose, remembering to keep your mouth closed. Gradually increase the amount of time you use the CPAP machine each night. Don’t expect to sleep the entire night immediately. Many patients may take up to 4 weeks to work up to a full night’s use. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t stay up fighting with the mask and machine. Put them aside and start again the next night. Be patient.

Runny and Stuffy Nose
One of the most common complaints from new users is runny or stuffy nose. This is usually caused by a sinus reaction to the continuous flow of dry air into the nasal passage. The problem is usually temporary and disappears in a short time. Solution: It is recommended that all CPAP machines be accompanied with humidifiers to help prevent nasal irritation. Continuous dry air can lead to swelling of the nasal passages and result in a runny and or stuffy nose. Both heated and non-heated humidifiers are available and will help prevent this common problem. In some situations, nasal decongestants such as Otrivin are recommended for long-term use. If a runny or stuffy nose arises during the course of your CPAP trial, consult with your therapist as soon as possible.
Dry mouth

Many people with obstructive sleep apnea tend to sleep with their mouths open. Sleeping with your mouth open while using your CPAP machine will result in a dry and irritated mouth. However, over time, most people will learn to close their mouth when sleeping with the CPAP mask on. Solution: Mouth leakage is most commonly a result of an inadequate pressure setting. Increasing your prescribed pressure may rectify this problem. Chin straps are available for those patients that complain of persistent mouth leakage. In special circumstances, a full face mask that covers both the mouth and the nose may be required.


All CPAP machines produce some level of noise. With time you will become accustomed to the sound of the machine. Current CPAP machines are almost undetectable. A small amount of leakage is required on all CPAP masks to enable proper ventilation of exhaled gases. Do not attempt to cover or block these exhalation ports. Solutions: Position the machine as far away from the bed as possible. Extension hoses are available up to 12 ft. Do not attempt to cover or locate the machine where there is insufficient ventilation. Improper ventilation may lead to overheating of your CPAP machine. Improper mask fit and leakage may result in excessive noise and discomfort. Various masks are available to ensure maximum comfort with minimal noise. Contact Coastal Sleep if you are unhappy with your current mask. If your mask or machine is extraordinarily noisy, contact your Coastal Sleep representative.

Cold or Wet nose

A cold and wet nose in the morning may be caused by excessive condensation produced within the CPAP circuit. Condensation or rainout is caused when the temperature of the surrounding air is cooler than the air inside the CPAP unit. Solutions: Reduce the temperature on your humidifier, raise the temperature of your bedroom, lay the CPAP hosing under the bed blankets or wrap the CPAP hosing with an insulating cover or try a heated hose with your machine.

Sore/Dry eyes
Mask leakage that blows air towards your eyes, even while closed, may cause you to experience red, sore or irritated eyes. Proper mask fit is extremely important in preventing this from occurring. Solutions: Adjust the mask and headgear to your face while you are lying down. Your face anatomy will change with body positioning and will fit differently than while sitting upright. If this problem persists please contact your CPAP provider for further assistance.
Mask Removal in the middle of the night

It is not uncommon for new CPAP users to remove their mask at night while asleep. The most common cause is due to sub-optimal pressure settings or persistent mouth leakage. Solution: Contact your Coastal Sleep provider. Your prescribed pressure setting may need to be adjusted or you may need to be sent for a more formal sleep study at the hospital.

Dreaming and Nightmares

Many new CPAP users may experience vivid dreaming or nightmares during the start of their CPAP trial. This is an indication of increased REM sleep(brain sleep) and is a positive sign that your sleep apnea is being treated. Excessive dreaming and nightmares are usually short-lived and will subside.

Not wearing it regularly-Poor compliance

Practice, patience, and persistence. Adjusting to sleeping with your CPAP machine will be tiring at times but fortunately, the benefits justify the effort required. Using a CPAP machine to treat your sleep apnea is not a quick and easy fix. Staying positive throughout the course of your trial is the most influential factor in determining your success with this form of therapy.

Skin Irritation and Abrasions

Proper mask fit is important in avoiding pressure points and skin breakdown. The most common cause of skin irritation and abrasions is due to over tightening of the headgear or an ill fitting mask. Solution: Headgear should be tightened just enough to prevent leakage from occurring. Ensure that you adjust your headgear straps while your CPAP machine is at its prescribed pressure. Tighten the headgear straps evenly for an optimal fit. Start by adjusting the top two straps followed by the bottom two. See our mask fitting videos below to help you fit your particular mask.

Contact Us for additional Troubleshooting

We are happy to help you and provide you with more information about our sleep products and services. We can schedule an appointment for you or get you set up with a free CPAP trial. You can contact us by calling us at 1-877-241-9066 or sending us an email. We’d love to hear from you and get your sleep back on track.