CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Air Pressure machines and these machines are used in therapy for sleep apnea.
A patient wears a face mask which is linked to a pump that supplies the natural passages with air. This is used when the patient is asleep to ensure that the airways are properly opened.
In the process of use, it is possible that the CPAP machine keeps making noise when inhaling. This can be because of dry airways or air leaking out from the machine.
You must be looking for a way to fix this noise problem which is why you are reading this post.
We want you to sleep better so we have put together a few hacks to help you to make your cpap machine quieter.
You will also learn how to prevent your CPAP machine from making noises in the future.
Causes of noise in a CPAP Machine
CPAP machines are designed to save lives and make sleeping better. They have so many advantages which outweigh the few disadvantages.
One of the major disadvantages of CPAP machines is the noise that they tend to make. The noises can come from the machine itself or the CPAP mask.
Let’s check out a few causes of noise in your CPAP machine:
1: Old vs. Modern
Once upon a time, CPAP machines were quite noisy. You should be filled with gratitude you didn’t buy one produced in the 1980s.
Over the last few years, CPAP machines have become quiet. In the 1980s, these machines made a noise of up to 70 decibels. This has reduced drastically to about 26 decibels.
If your machine is making noise these days, it is probably because it is an older model, or something is wrong.
While some people may not even hear their machines whistle while they sleep, others are so sensitive to sound. For the latter kind of people, the slightest noise while asleep could be frustrating.
This means that the CPAP machine may not be the problem, it may just be you being oversensitive to sound.
What do you do to a CPAP machine making noise when inhaling? You may want to shift it a little further from where you sleep. To do this, you should get a tubing of about 10 feet or attach two 6-foot tubes.
It is not advisable to use hoses that exceed 12 feet in length. This is because the air pressure will drop over the long distance. So what else could make your machine make such noises?
2: The position of the machine
It is almost inevitable for your CPAP machine to make noise. For some people, they cannot bear the whistling while they sleep and have to drop it below their ear levels.
It is allowed to put the machine at a lower position but putting it directly on the floor is a no-no.
However, if you have to, ensure that you don’t position it over curtains or drapes. When you do, you’ll be blocking the air passage. This will cause the machine to make extra noise.
3: Dust and dirt
Another major reason why a CPAP machine will make noise is dust. It is important that put the machine away from dusty zones.
You should also inspect the air filter frequently. The filter was designed to protect the motor of the machine from dirt.
Naturally, dirt and dust will cause your machine’s motor to work harder. The extra work your machine does translates to more noise.
For this reason, you have to watch out to be sure the filter isn’t blocked and is always kept clean.
Sometimes to fix a cpap machine making noise when inhaling, you need to change the filter.
When doing this, make sure that it is according to instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Sometimes, the cause of the noise may be vibrations from the machine. Fixing this problem is quite easy.
Simply place the machine over a small towel. When doing this, ensure that the towel doesn’t block your machine’s air intake point.
5: The Humidifier
In some cases, what you hear is a gurgling noise, not a whistling noise. When you hear this, then you may need to alter the level of the water in your humidifier.
In altering the water levels, you can either raise or drop it. Check the humidifier for the mark that shows maximum fill. Ensure that your water level is in line with this mark and the gurgling noise will stop.
One of the features of the CPAP machine reduces air pressure as the patient takes in air. This feature is called A-FLEX, EPR, or C-FLEX.
For some people, patients, and their partners, this sound can be very annoying. This is because the sound is always rising and falling.
There are several ways to solve the problem of a cpap machine making noise when inhaling from this cause.
You can either use a fan, buy a white noise machine, or play soothing music. If you try all of these to no avail, then you should try earplugs. They are meant to eliminate these kinds of noises.
6: Leaking CPAP mask
Sometimes, it isn’t your machine making the noise, it is the face mask. Really, finding this out may be quite difficult. Usually, what you hear is a whistling or farting sound and it is mostly heard at night.
One of the major causes of this noise from your CPAP mask is leaking. Leaks could be a result of the seal being incomplete. This is mostly noticed around the mouth or eye areas. Sometimes, it may be from the exhalation area.
Seal leaks are the most common leaks noticed in CPAP masks. The simple explanation for this is that the air in the mask leaks out at the junction between the face and the mask.
It is very important that you address such leaks as soon as you notice it. If you don’t, your problem wouldn’t be the noise alone, but poor air pressure.
Leaks reduce the air pressure when the leaks are significant. This means that your machine cannot deliver optimally to ensure that your air passage is kept open.
Asides this, it reduces the capacity of the machine to detect issues with your health. In this case, it will not be able to respond to needs relating to your respiration.
Sometimes, the noise comes from leaks because the face mask is old. In such cases, simply replace the mask.
How to make a CPAP machine quieter
When you notice your CPAP machine making noise when inhaling, there are certain steps you should take. We will discuss some of these simple hacks in this section.
After reading this, you should find it easy to eliminate the noise coming from your machine.
1: Re-position the machine
The truth is that your CPAP will make some noise, no matter how little. For some people, this noise is no source of disturbance, for the oversensitive ones, it is a huge problem.
If you fall into the second category, you need to reposition your machine.
While some people opt for dropping it below their ear levels, we suggest shifting it further from you.
So the idea is shifting it and dropping it below ear level. Now, this is not a guarantee of 100% silence, but the noise will reduce.
When repositioning, make sure that you don’t place the machine on drapes or carpets. These materials can block proper airflow or intake.
Like we stated earlier, you should also ensure the new surface is free of dirt or dust.
It is very easy for your CPAP machine to suck in the dust as it takes in air. This puts you at risk of breathing in lots of dust or dirt. The result of this may be allergies or irritations.
This is why you should always have mask wipes, they always come in handy.
A clean small towel is also potent in solving the problem of a cpap machine making noise when inhaling. The small towel helps to absorb vibrations that cause the noise.
It is important that you do not block the air intake channels when placing the machine on the towel.
2: Check for leaks and fix them
Just like we mentioned above, seal leaks are the most common type of leaks in CPAP machines.
This results in air escaping at the junction between the facial skin and mask. The problem is that apart from the noise, the leak also results in reduced air pressure.
Sometimes, the noise may come from the hose of the machine. In this case, the hose is probably leaking and you need to check it.
If the leaks are not properly addressed, soon the machine loses its essence. Always remember that you need air pressure to keep the airways open. With leaks, the pressure reduces which may result in you suffering from the deficit.
Leaks can also lead to a condition known as “dry-eye.” Sometimes, you may notice that you awaken with your eyes feeling weird.
The reason for this may be that air kept blowing directly into your eye as you slept.
This is one of the easiest leaks to fix. Simply pull the face mask away from the face and then wear it again. In some cases, the problem is that the mask is slightly wrinkled.
To fix this problem, take out the creases and wrinkles on the mask. You can also try moving the mask around your face until it fits properly. When it does, you will feel it.
A major cause of leaking masks is that they are old and worn out. If this is the case, then you should simply get a new CPAP mask.
Ideally, you change your mask every six months to avoid leaks. When buying a new mask, get one that is your size else you’d be having new leaks in less than no time.
3: Observe your humidifier
Not every CPAP machine has a humidifier. If your machine comes with one, then you must observe it frequently. Humidifiers will always make noise when the water levels are not optimal.
After much use of the machine, the humidifier will lose water. Is your cpap machine making noise when inhaling? It may be that the water levels in your humidifier are low or too high.
Humidifiers are designed to ensure moistness in the machine’s airway. Without this, the air passing through the machine will dry up the airway.
Some machines come with humidifiers while older ones require you to buy a humidifier. Regardless of which one you have, you must maintain optimal water levels.
While your body naturally humidifies itself, it is always better to have a humidifier. They help to purify the air you take in.
Asides the water levels, you should also check the hose of your humidifier. Sometimes it may not be properly setup.
This may lead to leaks that produce a hissing sound while inhaling. Check to ensure that there are no bandings on the hose. If you want to avoid bandings also use this hose buddy, cause noise and bandings may interrupt airflow.
The water inside the humidifier naturally bubbles when there’s pressure inside the hose. It is exactly what you notice when blowing air into the water using a straw.
4: Use CPAP Pillows to avoid leaks
One of the most difficult aspects of using a CPAP machine is being comfortable while sleeping with the mask. To ensure comfort as you sleep, you can get a CPAP pillow.
It comes with built-in slopes that ensure that you sleep normally when you wear the mask. This pillow ensures that you sleep without shifting the mask and ruining the seal.
5: White Noise Machines
You must have heard of white noise machines. In case you haven’t, this machine produces sounds at different frequencies intending to distract you.
Your brain is tricked as a result of the different sounds that mask the original annoying noise. Asides masking noises, white noise machines are beneficial when trying to sleep in loud situations.
These include thunderstorms and windy places, train stations, and street traffic. Some individuals advise that you stick to the irritating noise for a while.
There is a chance that you’ll soon begin to enjoy the resulting white noise.
6: Purchase a Quiet CPAP Machine with less noise
Is your CPAP machine making noise when inhaling? The ultimate solution is to purchase a Quiet CPAP machine.
You need a new machine if you have tried all the hacks mentioned above without eliminating the noise.
Newer machines are designed to make less noise so you can find one to suit your needs. By the way, these machines aren’t cheap.
But they are worth spending on if you want to breathe better while sleeping.
Steps to take to prevent CPAP machines from making noise
The noise of a CPAP machine can be very annoying and irritating, not just for you, but for your partner.
One of the questions many people ask is how do you prevent your CPAP machine from making noise? We will discuss a few tips in this post.
- Tip 1 – Position the machine properly. The position of your machine determines how much noise you will hear from it. Make sure that the machine is not too close to your bed and is below your ear level. This way, you don’t get to hear the constant noise that comes from the machine.
- Tip 2 – Suck up any vibrations. Vibrations will always make your CPAP machine to make noise. Like we told you earlier, putting a small towel under the machine sucks up the vibration. Make sure the towel is clean and don’t use it to block the air intake area.
- Tip 3 – Check the water level in the humidifier. If the water in the humidifier is too much or too small, it will cause noise. Always check to be sure that the water is at optimal levels. There is usually a marker to show the required water level, use this as a pointer.
- Tip 4 – Ensure that your CPAP mask fits properly. Sometimes, there is no problem with your machine, it is just that your mask isn’t fitting for your face. Always buy the right mask size and ensure you change the mask every 6 months.
- Tip 5 – Use earbuds. If you are very sensitive to sound while sleeping, we advise that you get earbuds. Your machine is always going to make a certain level of sound. If this will disturb you while sleeping, use earbuds.
Now you know what to do when a CPAP machine making noise when inhaling. We have shown you the possible causes, helpful solutions, and prevention measures.
Do you have any questions? Ask them in the comments section below.
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.