Our veteran clinicians share their tips for success for CPAP therapy


Today's Clinician

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Ross Evans

Ross has been a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 8 years and he provides clinical support to Apria patients in the Northern Colorado region. In his spare time Ross enjoys fly fishing and watching hockey.

Q. I have a nasal mask but I sometimes wake up gasping for air, do I need to up my airflow or change my mask?

A.  It could be one, or a combination of things. Contact your local branch to have a respiratory therapist look at the data from your CPAP machine and see if the settings and therapy are appropriate and/or working as expected. Another thing to consider is whether your sinuses become frequently congested when lying down, or if your mouth opens when you fall asleep. If these two things are occurring, you may need to change to a full face mask. Although a full face mask may not be your first choice, your breathing will be more natural and you will most likely get better results from your therapy with a full face mask. 

Q. The bands that go around my head keep slipping down but when I tighten them they pull out my hair – is there a way to fix this?

A. If the headgear is slipping down it is likely that your mask is too big or not a good fit for you. It's a good idea to contact us to meet with a respiratory therapist for a mask fitting to make sure the mask is appropriate for you and is the correct size. 

Q. I have a continuous mask leak problem, how do I know I’m wearing the correct size?  


A. Whichever mask you have, it should come with a sizing card to help determine the correct size. If your mask came with multiple sizes of cushions, try each size with the machine running and see which one performs the best. Once you decide on a size, or if your mask only came in one size, put the mask on extra loose, turn on the machine so the air is flowing, and then adjust the mask in small increments, just enough to get rid of any leak. The mask should be snug enough to not leak, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. If none of that helps, I would meet with one of our respiratory therapists to make sure that your mask is a good fit for you. There are always other options. Everyone’s face is different and there is no one mask that will work for everyone. 

For more information: 6 Reasons Why Your Mask Leaks & How to Fix It

Q. My CPAP mask is giving me blisters, how can I stop that? Am I allergic or is it too tight?


A. Blisters, a rash, or skin irritation can be caused by a mask that is either too tight or too loose. Consult the guide that came with your mask about sizing and make any needed adjustments. Alternatively, some people do have a reaction with the material used in the mask. Some options to help with this are, try to avoid using lotions or creams on your face right before putting on the mask, or you can try a mask liner that will create a cloth barrier between your skin and the mask itself. There are also certain companies that make cloth masks, or cushions that have a foam layer which touches your face that may help as well.

For more information: How to Avoid Skin Irritation From Your CPAP Mask

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