Can CPAP Cause Headaches?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While CPAP therapy is generally well-tolerated and effective in managing sleep apnea, some individuals might experience side effects, including headaches, especially during the initial period of using the CPAP machine.

Headaches related to CPAP therapy can occur for various reasons:

  • Mask fit or pressure: Incorrect mask fit or improper adjustment of CPAP pressure settings can cause discomfort, leading to headaches. High or excessive pressure from the CPAP machine might cause sinus discomfort, leading to headaches in some individuals.
  • Mask-related issues: Some people may experience headaches due to pressure points or straps from the CPAP mask, leading to tension headaches or discomfort during sleep.
  • Dryness or congestion: CPAP therapy might cause dryness in the nasal passages or irritation in the airways, especially if the individual is not using a heated humidifier or if they have underlying nasal congestion. This dryness or irritation could lead to headaches.
  • Adaptation period: When starting CPAP therapy, some individuals might experience an adjustment period during which they might develop headaches due to changes in sleep patterns or adapting to the airflow from the CPAP machine.

If someone experiences persistent or severe headaches after initiating CPAP therapy, it’s essential to address these concerns with a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist. They can provide guidance on troubleshooting issues related to CPAP usage, adjust settings, suggest alternative mask options, or provide recommendations to help alleviate headaches associated with CPAP therapy.

Moreover, maintaining good CPAP hygiene, ensuring the mask fits properly, using a heated humidifier if recommended, and gradually acclimating to CPAP therapy can help reduce the likelihood of headaches and improve comfort during sleep apnea treatment.