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?

Answer


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?

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Jun 24, 2011
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Helpless
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
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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
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contact info
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
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More Followup.....
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?

John




Mar 02, 2017
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Please help
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

May 01, 2017
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CPAP and Phlegm
by: Peter S

Feel very sorry for the contributors above who have experienced phlegm problems with CPAP. IVe used Resmed machine for 15 years and had no such problem until 2016 when thick but clear ghastly mucus / phlegm was forming and waking me at night. It's slimy and thick and difficult to clear , (I know this is sickening to read but no other way to say it!). I do not use a humidifier, my machine is older still works fine. What I have found however is that the issue is due to mouth leakage, as I use a nose mask only, the Mirage FW (wide size). This is a convenient little mask but I fear it is the cause of the mucus. The temporary cure is a Resmed chin strap, but in combination with the mask itself one looks and feels like a medical experiment gone wrong. My suspicion is that a full face mask, that is a mask which covers the mouth AND nose will solve all your problems.

I know that abandoning CPAP is tempting and in many ways I've hated it, but given the alternative of having a stroke or being chronically tired I have to say it's worth persisting with.

But as a long time user my advice is to try a chin strap (they are cheap) but look to purchasing a full face mask as a real solution. By the way, I don't have a CPAP humidifier although I wish I could afford one, so I don't think that device is the culprit. I do think mouth leakage / mouth breathing is. Thank you, Peter.

May 01, 2017
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Problem Solved!
by: Anonymous

For me, it was a setting on my ResMed machine. I had to take my machine in due to a bad power button. When the tech configured my loaner machine, she enabled Pressure Relief! With this enabled, I no longer wake up with throat crud. I got my machine back, enabled it on my machine and just as good as the loaner. Hope this helps others. Good luck.

May 10, 2017
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Solution
by: TooFarNorth

I, too, have had a bad time with mucous and nasal congestion every morning causing me to have the same problem as those who commented above.
In addition, I would have to blow my nose over and over again after getting out of bed.

Finally I decided that it could be the humidity in my CPAP machine so last night I set it to NONE and I woke this am with no nasal congestion, no nose blowing and a miniscule amount of mucous.

It was like waking up to a new life, no allergy symptoms. Wonderful, worked for me, not sure if it will work for u.

May 10, 2017
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The mucus thing ...
by: Peter S

Hi fellow CPAP sufferers ... as per my post on May 1st above. I bought the new full face mask (F20 I think it is) and problem solved. No throat gunk. Just a good sleep.

CheersOS

Sep 25, 2017
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So Clean cause nightmares? NEW
by: Anonymous

Has anyone been experiencing problems with the So Clean device used to sanitize CPAP equipment? Besides the strong ozone smell, I have been having nightmares, spasms, foggy thinking, congestion with coughing up mucous & feeling so tired when get up..no energy. Before using the So Clean system, I felt better..I did have congestion & coughing but contributed it ingesting the water from the moisturizing container in the Cpap system? Any suggestions would be suggested. I spent $299 for So Clean device & the 30 day return has expired & So Clean CO. won't allow me to return it because past 30 days. I have used it about 3 months & didn't realize it was what was causing problems until went on line & found where it could cause nightmares. Was so stunned that it was causing my nightmares, but explained why was having them over & over. I had loved the convience of its easy cleaning, but not the consequence of it & the problems is causing. I quit using it & nice not to have nightmares! Anyone else experience any of these problems?

Sep 28, 2017
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Use of bipap, increased secretions , told by RT it is temporary NEW
by: DV

My mother has severe COPD and started using a bipap machine 3 months ago. This resulted in increased secretions and cough and increased gastric reflux. The RT adjusted the settings on the machine and it helped with the gastric reflux. The RT told my mother that the increased secretions (and accompanying cough) are common, are due to the fact that the machine is opening up airways not used to be open and more importantly, are temporary (will last 3-4 months). Has anyone been told something similar?

Oct 20, 2017
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RESPONSE TO Jun 24, 2011 NEW
by: Anonymous

This is in response to the June 24 poster regarding mask leaks. I have been using CPAP for 10 years and the last several weeks I've been waking with phlegm in lungs and throat. Would taste bad and take half a day to clear. Constant coughing would cause more inflammation and create a vicious cycle! After reading the above post, I noticed my mask was loose and that it had probably been leaking during the night. I tightened the strap (full face mask) and the next morning was like a miracle...NO PHLEGM for the first time in several weeks...unbelievable...thanks so much for posting your experience...you have saved me much worry and misery!

Nov 15, 2017
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Cpap vs bipap NEW
by: Lynn

I am so confused. I have been using cpap for 5 years n never had a problem until recently. I assumed it was caused by treatment for lung cancer. I am about to undergo another sleep study for bipap From your comments it sounds like I will get worst

To address those people who are coughing constantly please ask for Ct scan of lungs

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