CPAP and Claustrophobia

on 5/9/15 2:46 am - SALEM, OR

Is it just me, or did anyone else feel like the CPAP was trying to smother them?  I am claustrophobic, not to the extreme, but when I had my CPAP set up today, I panicked.  I am skeptical about it anyway, but when he put the nasal canula type mask on, I could barely breathe!  I ended up getting the full over the nose mask, but still it's difficult. I have a hard time exhaling. I can breathe in just fine, it's the exhale that I feel like I can't do.  I know I'm supposed to practice, but man.

Any tips on how to relax and just breathe with a CPAP?  I can't imagine actually sleeping with it on.

on 5/9/15 12:56 pm - Canada

I can totally relate, I was feeling the same way about my CPAP. But over the last couple of weeks it is improving and I am able to wear it longer through the night. I have just the over the nose mask. I was told by the sleep clinic to try wearing it while I am watching a favorite show on TV or reading, or a hobby activity. When I went for my compliance report after having it for two weeks I was amazed at the results. When I was first tested for sleep apnea I was having 27 active events per hour of not breathing...YIKES SCARY, but when I went for my compliance review I was down to 0.2 events per hour. So I guess what I am trying to say is try to stick with it and give it a chance. I will say to you that I am only probably getting through wearing it up to 4 to 5 hours per night and I do still get frustrated but I do feel that when I am sleeping it is a deeper more relaxed sleep. I am not waking up with dry mouth and feeling foggy in my head. Let me know how you making out. Best of luck!!! Laura

on 6/9/15 8:19 pm - Canada

If you ask for exhale pressure to be lowered then it will help with the claustrophobia feeling! It helped me! I still have a hard time wearing it,  but I keep trying! Good Luck! 

on 6/23/15 11:23 am

I see you posted in May so it might not be an issue for you anymore but in case it is, I will respond.  I had difficulty with the CPAP & BIPAP machines for my sleep apnea.  I was unable to manage wearing the mask as I found it too difficult to keep on.  It felt too tight and they said it could not be loosened or it would not work properly; it brought me to tears and had to yank it off. Also one time when I did manage to keep it on every hour it would cause me to wake up and therefore never got any real sleep.  I also tried the mouthguard but, unfortunately, was unable to wear it as it caused me to gag on my own phlegm.   I can, however, suggest an exercise to help you relax and sleep.  One of my doctor recommended this exercise and it does help to fall and stay asleep.   Sit in a comfortable position fold your hands down like in prayer, straighten up the fingers next to the thumbs but keep them apart.  Focus on those fingers while keeping them apart. After a couple of minutes imagine (with eyes open) that you are in a peaceful place while continuing to look at your two fingers and still trying to keep them apart.  As you keep focusing you will find it more and more difficult to keep your fingers apart and when they finally get very close slowly bring yourself back.  It is a totally amazing experience.  I personally find mindfulness to make me more tense and UNTIL my doctor showed me this one and it really does make a difference for me.

(deactivated member)
on 6/28/15 2:33 pm

put it on while watching t v or sitting to get use to it ,i understand what your saying

on 9/6/15 2:35 pm - Indianapolis, IN
RNY on 12/04/15

Eight years ago I was introduced to a CPAP machine and an over-the-nose mask.  I suffer from severe claustraphobia, so that machine in combination with a mask that leaked like a sieve, I got no sleep the first night.  I had a wonderful equipment supplier so I called him first thing in the morning.  

We tried a different mask night #2...better but still a large leaker.  I called my supplier the next morning.  He suggested I try a nose pillow more leaking.  A week of use passed and it was time for me to see my sleep doc for a followup.  A few questions later he changed my script to a BiPAP machine.  The new machine was the answer and saving the grace to overcoming any effects of my claustraphobia.

My BiPAP has been my best friend since the day we were first introduced.  My original nose pillow mask was replaced by an even better one, the Fisher Paykal Opus 360 nose pillow mask.  My original brand of nose pillow mask became my backup if I ever was in need of a backup.  I have never been in need of a backup in 8 years.

I've been on a BiPAP for 8 years, without missing a night.  Once it was determined that I needed a BiPAP, instead of a CPAP, and I had a perfect fitting mask, any claustraphobia while wearing a mask disappeared.

67 yrs old, 4'10", BMI 31.8 (51.8 at start), HW 256.4 (8/4/15), SW 217.4, CW 152.8 (4/30/18), GW 125.0, RNY 12/4/15 Dr. RoseMarie Jones, Breast Cancer DX 2/16, Bi-lateral mastectomy 8/9/16.

on 9/10/15 9:47 pm - Victoria , Canada

Nose pillows are the best thing. Didn't try anything else and was hooked from day 1.

the one thing I will say about the pillows is that if you are a mouth breather it will take some getting used to breathing through your nose.

it takes a bit but once I'm asleep, regular nose breathing takes over and I have the best sleep of my life.

HW: 330 | SW: 300 | 1 Mo: -27 | 2 Mo: -12| 3 Mo: 0 (stalled!)

Surgery Type: VSG - Dr. Malik @ Royal Jubilee Hospital (2015/07/27)

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