Why can’t I tolerate my CPAP?

CPAP machine Austin TX If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, there is a good chance you have been prescribed a CPAP machine.  You may try and try but you just can’t wear it.  You may try switching masks, try different CPAP machines, use chin straps, try sleeping pills, program a ramp up in pressure, all to no avail.

Why a CPAP May Not Work

There are two main reasons why CPAP may not work for an individual patient.

1. Mild sleep apnea – Patients diagnosed with mild sleep apnea typically cannot tolerate CPAP. This is simply because the cumbersome nature of the treatment causes more sleep disruption than the actual sleep apnea does. These patients are better treated with procedural therapy or possibly an oral appliance.  Frequently, there is a better option for these patients.  A simple 15 minute advanced balloon sinuplasty procedure in our office, possibly combined with soft palate stiffening, can open the airway and may cure the sleep apnea!

2. Blocked nose – It makes sense that you can’t pump pressure through a closed hole doesn’t it? Despite this common sense notion, many sleep doctors will put a mask over the face of a patient with severe anatomical nasal and sinus issues and expect this therapy to work. When it doesn’t work, they just crank up the pressure, or use Bilevel pressure (BiPAP) and use chin straps to try to overcome the nasal blockage. The pressure is so high it feels suffocating.  It can leaks and lose effectiveness.  It can also blows air on the patient’s eyes. A simple 15 minute advanced balloon sinuplasty procedure in our office can open the nasal airway.  This allows the patient to comfortably use a simple nasal pillow CPAP, at a low, tolerable, and effective pressure. In some cases, this procedure, along with a soft palate stiffening procedure, may cure the sleep apnea and no CPAP will then be needed. In other cases, this nasal procedure can allow the patient to alternatively use an oral appliance instead of the CPAP therapy.

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If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and find that you can’t use your CPAP come see us for a consultation at Sinus and Snoring Specialists to learn about what options may be available for you.

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Posted in: CPAP, Sleep Apnea, Snoring


  1. Question: If one has been through 11 hours of sinus surgery and have bone missing from between the brain and sinus, is this a contraindication for CPAP?

    Comment by Leonard Dye on April 24, 2021 at 7:27 pm

  2. Hi Mr. Dye, Dr. Slaughter would have to do an evaluation to see exactly what is going on to give treatment advice. Please call us at 512-601-0303. Thank you!

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on May 10, 2021 at 3:58 pm

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