Coughing and phlegm from CPAP machine?

by Brenda
(Pickering On Canada)

I have been using the machine for about a month now and I am finding that I have a constant cough and pleghm.

Is it possible that this is a side effect?


Dear Brenda,

this problem is common in sleep apnea patients using CPAP therapy. Your nasal passages must get used to this pressured air hitting it.

You didn't say if you have a CPAP humidifier. The warm humid air may relieve the congestion - and this is also the main purpose of the humidifier.

However, some people use the humidifier at maximum level, and they start to feel the congestion and phlegm. So it's good to test the level of the humidifier every night, until you will feel better.

If the humidifier is not the problem, it might be a cronic sinus infection, so you should discuss with your doctor.

Do you also have COPD, asthma or GERD...or developing it? These disorders can cause your problems. Check with a pulmonary doctor.

You should stop using the CPAP machine for a night or two, until you get the congestion sorted. Contact your sleep doctor and get some medication to clear it up.

Beyond the fact that you probably don't have adequate humidifation, you may be experiencing mouth leaks. You didn't say which type of mask you have...full face mask, nasal mask, or nasal pillows?

If you have mouth leaks, you should use a cpap chin strap. You will feel the difference.

Some more interesting pages for you to check out:

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for Coughing and phlegm from CPAP machine?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 24, 2011
cpap problems
by: Anonymous

i was recently diagnosed with mild copd and sleep apnea and started using cpap with humidifier set at 2....every time i use machine from 1 to 3 nights, i start with mucus in my throat that spreads down to my lungs and cough and cough and cough every time i lay down.

this has happened now 3 times and i've been on the machine for only a week. have to stop using machine for 2 or 3 days each time and doc has me on amoxicillin. but as long as i'm using machine, it doesn't help.

the only thing that has helped so far is to stop using cpap. then i wait a day and start using it again....but problem comes back.

Mar 21, 2015
Sinus problems
by: Jan

I have been using my S9 Cpap machine for 5 months. I have always had problems with my sinuses. At one time I had sinus surgery.

Since I have started Cpap my sinuses have gotten worse. I am tired all the time. I am plugged up & coughing constantly. My chest hurts.

I just had a doctors appt & he did a chest X-ray. He said there was no pneumonia. Possible sinus infection & allergies.

He told me to take Claritin before going to bed. He also put me on an antibiotic. This was last week.

I do not feel any better. I have a 1/2 hour ramp time & setting is 10. I have experimented with different humidity levels & nothing seems to work.

I am about ready to quit Cpap. Help

Jul 24, 2016
Phlegm problems as well!
by: J

I began w/BIPAP therapy about two months back. My machine is called Resmed. At first, the humidity setting was (5), and at first, it did not cause me problems.

After about a month w/every day use, I began experiencing the almost constant need to clear my throat. This would begin about a half-hour after waking, and continue throughout most of the day. By around supper time, I was usually past the problem, but it's occurred almost every day for over a month now.

I've backed-down the humidity setting on my Resmed machine to a (1), and I'm still experiencing issues with Phlegm. My nose is not conjested,......I just have to "clear my throat" about five hundred times every day! This isn't normal, is it? What should I do? Thanks.

Sep 05, 2016
Congestion and Cough
by: JH

I started using a Panasonic System One w/heated humidifier last October (2015). A gradual cough and stuffy nose started developing soon after. I now have an almost constant cough w/phlegm (sometimes choking)and runny nose. I even bought a $300 So Clean machine to 'kill' the germs, even though I cleaned the c-pap and replaced filters and hoses and nose pillows on a regular basis.

It is VERY frustrating, to say the least! I am considering stopping the c-pap therapy soon, as I had no sinus or coughing issues before I started using this.

I went to a pulmonologist for a lung workup. Lung x-rays were clear. Passed breathing tests. He had never heard of 'c-pap cough', which I find hard to believe. I can't be the only one suffering from this.

Sep 14, 2016
Cough and phlegm all day!
by: Cindiann

I have a resmed cpap, have tried all different humidity levels and I wake up with a phlegmly throat and slimy mouth every morning anymore, I feel as if I have phlegm in my bronchial tubes and throat constantly anymore, I have been to the doctors over and over with this and they say they have no clue as why I am experiencing this.

I have had a endoscopy done, I don't have reflux but they put me on protonix anyway, this hasn't helped, Lung X-rays are clear, I don't have COPD so what is this?? I am miserable clearing my throat and coughing all day and so hoarse from it. Anyone have any suggestions??

Sep 23, 2016
Aweful after use of Cpap machine
by: Anonymous

I developed a 2 hour coughing spasm after use of Cpap machine. Still have cough even after I stopped using Cpap. Never had such a cough before. I wonder if I am allergic to the plastic mask, tubing etc.

Sep 28, 2016
Phlegm Follow-up
by: John

A follow-up to an earlier posting (see "J") concerning issues with having to constantly be clearing my throat every day following BIPAP therapy.

I noticed that when I decreased the humidity setting down to as low as "off", and then a (1), my phlegm issues were the worst! After doing a lot of reading as to what others were experiencing, etc., I changed my humidity setting to a (4), and I can honestly say that it helped reduce my Phlegm issues to a very "manageable level. I may very well try a "5" setting a a month or two, and see how my body reacts to that.

I am trying to not be making constant setting changes, so that I can more carefully judge what my body is telling me, and this has helped. Apparently, even though it sounds counter-intuitive, and at least in my case, a middle-of-the-road humidity setting is working. At first, I didn't believe this would work, but I was wrong.

I still have some phlegm issues, but they are mild, and don't interfere with my daily activities.

Oct 05, 2016
by: Anonymous

I have been using crap for 4 1/2 years and experience morning chocking mucus. I went to fam doctor and was told it wasn't a problem as long as it cleared up as the day went on. Went to my sleep doctor and she had no clue.

I have also tried the humidity setting on every level and nothing helps. Can't quit using it because I already have heart issues. Please help.

Nov 29, 2016
Same here
by: Anonymous

Each morning when I remove my cpap mask (nasal only) I have thick bitter throat mucus to cough up. It sounds worse than it is to remove but it's the kind that is stringy, with an elastic-like way about it that will extend down the back of my tongue and sometimes make me choke or gag.

I can actually "reel it forward" by sticking out my tongue and scraping it along my top teeth, until I can spit it out. Once I cough it all up and blow my nose, I'm good for the day. I do not have this issue without cpap.

Jan 16, 2017
contact info NEW
by: Anonymous

Dr. Robert S Rosenberg ...Prescott Valley z is supposed to be one of the TOP persons in the field .....Written many books ....Should have some general answers.......Give him a call but better yet send an EMAIL

Jan 16, 2017
More Followup..... NEW
by: John

Have been using my Resmed machine for about six months now, and am fairly happy with overall results! I've settled in on a humidity setting of "4", and I've found it beneficial for me to clean the water reservoir every morning, and allowing it to completely dry before the next use. Also, I only pour in just enough distilled water to allow me to get thru the night. My body has become fairly compliant to the positive pressure of Bipap, although I still do not enjoy pressure necessary to exhale. I still do a little throat clearing almost every morning, but it's usually done by mid-morning.

I have developed a stuffed-up right ear, and a specialist "installed" an ear tube to try to get me cleared out. Anyone else had any ear problems like this?


Mar 02, 2017
Please help NEW
by: Al

Hi i need urgent help bern using cpap machine nearly 2 months. For over a month iv had sever hacking cough and producing phleghm my body aches im currently waiting for results of lung xrays. It starts as soon as i get up and carrys on all day. Must have to clear my throat 500 times a day its making me so miserable can someone please tell me theyve experienced it as i cant take more of it

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Help For Sleep Apnea.

Latest Updates

  1. The CPAP Machine Guide for Newbies

    Everything You Need to Know About CPAP Machine. Learn about CPAP using a detailed Guide that will educate you to choose the best CPAP and help you to avoid the most common side effects.

    Read More

  2. CPAP Benefits | Sleep Apnea Guide

    Can CPAP benefits boost your health if you have sleep apnea or snoring? And is it worth it to sleep with a mask on your face every night?

    Read More

  3. CPAP Claustrophobia | How to Eliminate it?

    How to prevent and eliminate CPAP claustrophobia? Learn how to sleep with your CPAP mask on even if you have CPAP anxiety.

    Read More

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Sleep Apnea Info.
Share This Site

Email; Contact UsContact Us