Do you ever wake up after sleeping with your CPAP mask to discover that your mouth is dry and your throat is so raw that you’re having trouble even swallowing? You know CPAP therapy is an important part of treating your sleep apnea, but your dry mouth has become so annoying you’re not sure whether you’re going to continue or not. However, don’t let CPAP dry mouth
Why am I waking up with CPAP Dry Mouth?
There are two main causes of dry mouth while using a CPAP mask. The first is a mask leak and the second is being a ‘mouth breather’.
Mask Leaks: Most of the time, mask leaks aren’t that much of an issue. As long as your leaks don’t last for more than 30 minutes and the leak rate isn’t above 24L/min, then the leaks aren’t large enough to negatively impact your therapy and cause dry mouth. That being said, if you are finding that your mask is leaking too much then simply readjust your mask to reduce leaks or use a gel that will help create a tighter seal between the mask and your face.
Mouth Breathing: There are a variety of reasons you may be breathing through your mouth rather than your nose including nasal congestion, habit, or even due to a deviated septum. If you do discover that you’re a ‘mouth breather’ there are a number of solutions you can try to ensure you don’t wake up with a dry mouth.
Medication: There are a number of medications taken by people as they age that can contribute to dry mouth such as medications for high blood pressure, anxiety, diabetes, muscle relaxants, pain, antihistamines, and more.
Medical Conditions: Whatever you need to take medication for may cause dryness as well! Diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, anemia, stroke, and more can all contribute to xerostomia, when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva.
How can I fix dry mouth?
Use a Full Face Mask: If you have a nasal pillow or nasal mask and your jaw drops while you sleep, you will wake up with a dry mouth. Using a full face mask will eliminate air leaks and will provide you with effective CPAP therapy.
Add Moisture: Ensure your humidifier is on and working properly. Most doctors agree that heated humidity is essential for anyone engaging in CPAP therapy, especially for those who require mid to high range pressure. If the level of heat makes you uncomfortable, remember that the moisture component is the most important part for preventing dry mouth. Simply adjust the heat downwards if you become uncomfortable.
Shut Your Mouth: Many chronic ‘mouth breathers’ find that using a chin strap can be an easy solution to their dry mouth with CPAP. The strap holds the jaw up, while also keeping the tongue in a position where it will help maintain a tight seal. Unfortunately, a chin strap sometimes doesn’t solve more serious cases of mouth breathing.
Talk to Your Doctor: If you have dry mouth before CPAP because of diabetes, hypertension, or side effects from medication, adjusting your humidification won’t help. However, you can ask your doctor about trying a different medication.
Stay Hydrated: There are ways to prevent dry mouth before bedtime by sipping water throughout the day, chewing sugar-free gum, and by breathing through your nose. Also, avoid beverages with alcohol or using mouthwash, smoking, and sugary or acidic foods that could increase dryness.
Bonus Tip: Xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables, creates saliva to relieve discomfort and prevent tooth decay. Xylimelts adheres to your tooth and slowly administers xylitol while you sleep when salvia production is at its lowest.
The bottom line is you don’t have to let a bit of CPAP dry mouth stop you from sleep apnea therapy for better health. So if you’re waking up parched and with a mouth that feels like the Sahara Desert, just try a few of the tips outlined above!