CPAP Cough

by Judy Y.
(Willard, WI USA)

I am a new user to a CPAP machine, seven weeks now. This past fall I had two bouts of pneumonia, this was just before I began using the CPAP. I was finally healthy when I began the CPAP and LOVED using the machine the first two weeks. Then one night I woke up with a very bad cough and after that I have had a very loose cough, resting right in my bronchial tubes.

I thought my pneumonia came back but, x-rays came back normal. I am not on a 10 day run with an antibiotic. The doctor thinks it may be just some type of an infection. She said if I wasn't better in 10 days to call her.

I am on day 8 of my medicine and I still have the exact same cough. It is a very deep, loose cough, I wezz when I breath.

She thought if the meds didn't work I should go get some allergy testing done. I am a dairy farmer and am in a barn 6 hours a day, of course seven days a week. I really can't think it to be that as I have been farming for 25 years now.

My question, people have asked me since the cough began two weeks after I started the CPAP, can the cough be due to the CPAP machine?

I look forward to your answer.


Dear Judy, you are not the only CPAP user who has coughing problem. There are many sleep apnea patients who start coughing when CPAP is turned on. However, we cannot definitely say that CPAP is the main cause for this issue.

Actually, there are many causes for coughing, and because you are a beginner with CPAP therapy, I'm thinking about your CPAP humidifier.

CPAP Humidifier

If you don't use a humidifier, the dry air from CPAP enters into your airways, drying your mouth, your nasal passages, your throat, and irritating the soft tissues. This can cause coughing and phlegm.

So, if you have a CPAP humidifier, you have to turn it ON. Furthermore, increasing the level of humidity doesn't guarantee you will escape from CPAP coughing. You have to test which level of humidity is more appropriate for you.

In other words, some CPAP users find coughing relief with lower humidifier settings, others with higher. It depends on how humid is your environment.

Type of CPAP mask

What type of mask are you using? You may want to know that for some CPAP users nasal pillows can cause coughing. The air is felt like it's being forced in the throat, irritating everything in his path. Thus, sore throat, coughing and mucus secretion.

Moreover, the nasal airways are unable to provide sufficient humidity to humidify the increased airflow of CPAP therapy. This results in the nasal mucosa being stripped of the moisture required to humidify the air.

Disorders that may cause coughing while using CPAP

CPAP therapy can aggravate GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a known risk factor for GERD, which can also cause chronic coughing.

So, if you sometimes fell like vomiting (stomach juices getting up into your airway passage), or can hear a liquid (acid) in the back of your throat crackling when you open your mouth, you should tell your doctor. Acid reflux can wear the lining out of your esophagus. And if your flap gets damaged from it you will have to sleep sitting up the rest of your life.

Asthma, Sinus issues, Interstitial Lung Disease or Multiple Bilateral Pulmonary Embolisms may cause coughing as well.


Your doctor is right. Allergies can be a risk factor for coughing. Did you know that some CPAP users are allergic to the CPAP filter? There are different types of filters, so changing these filters can be a good idea.

But you may also have allergies from CPAP mask materials.

Other users discovered mildew inside the CPAP machine (surprising, I know...). And others didn't clean their CPAP parts properly.

So Judy, there are a lot of things involved in coughing while using the CPAP. I think you need to consider all the facts mentioned above, but if you have other questions, please don't hesitate to ask or comment.

Remember to speak with your doctor about your problem.

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

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for CPAP Cough

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Feb 16, 2014
I cough with Cpap
by: Donna

I read some comments about coughing with Cpap.

I have recently started coughing with my CPAp after almost four years.I am so frustrated because my sleep is interrupted at night. My doctor is confused. He says if it continues he will run some tests. I was glad to know I am not alone.
Even nose spray has stopped working. I am going to tell him what I read online. So you are not alone.


Apr 27, 2014
Mind borthering
by: Ellen

I to have a cough that want go away since i started useing my cpap i've been on the cpap for three weeks now. i never had a cough till then, i don't cough while i'm wearing the mask just when i get up in the morning til at night when i put my mask back on.And i do have aid reflux. don't know if that has anything to do with it. thank u 4 your help

Jul 01, 2014
So bothersome
by: Judy A.

I have just woken up because of a dry cough while using my cpap machine. I have been using it since 2009 and have never had a problem until recently. I cannot sleep without my machine but will go back to bed and try sleeping without it. The cough is just too bothersome.

Nov 21, 2015
by: Anonymous

I have been a CPAP user for the past 15 years. I recently changed to a new machine and have begun coughing.

Took antibiotics and cough came back. changed settings and still coughing. I switched to my old machine and am fine with it.

My dr. and cpap supplier say it can not be the machine. I am at a loss. After using my older machine for about 2 weeks and being cough free , I went back on my new machine and developed a cough the very next day!

Surely we all can't be crazy! I have tried humidifier on all type of settings and my new machine still makes me cough

Jan 20, 2016
New cpap cough!
by: Amber

I just started using my CPAP 3 weeks ago and since then I have had a cough. Its starts at night when I go to bed as soon as I put my CPAP on. It keeps me awake for hours before I can finally fall asleep. Then I wake up and cough most of the day.

I finally stopped coughing in the evening only to relive the entire experience as soon as I put my CPAP back on at night. I've never had a cough before that wasn't associated with a cold.

I don't know what's going on but I'd love to find out. In fact I just got out of bed to Google why this was happening because I was so tired of coughing.

Jan 21, 2016
New cough
by: Anonymous

I've used my CPAP for years and recently developed a periodic dry cough while wearing my CPAP. It interrupts my sleep and will last for hours. I've changed all the pieces and the filter. No change.

I remove the mask and the cough stops, but I don't sleep well without it. I've spoke to my MD and he recommended I decrease the humidification. I increase the humidification in the winter and decrease in the summer. I tried to decrease the humidification as he suggested and it hasn't helped.

I have GERD but have had no symptoms of reflux. I will be calling my MD again.

Jan 22, 2016
Just tested, lots of mucus
by: Bee

I did a sleep study with CPAP last night -- nasal at first, but that didn't work so changed to mask. I slept okay, I guess, but today I am exhausted and have a lot of mucus in the back of the throat and have hacking it all day.

Can the CPAP do something to cause that? Would it be from my lungs or from reflux or what?

I am recovering from massive pulmonary embolism six weeks ago, and I am totally weak today. I had hoped the CPAP would help me rest but I feel awful instead.

Any thoughts, advice, stern motivation :-) ?

Mar 23, 2016
by: denisd

Started using cpap 3 weeks ago. Did good for two weeks. Then got bad sinus and chest congestion and diagnosed with sinus infection and bronchitis. Took 5 days antibiotic z pak. Now increased cough weakness increased phlegm. Hurting all over, is this related to cpap use somehow?

Apr 10, 2016
Cough herd sinus problems With bi pap machine
by: Anonymous

I'm beginning to wonder where we are getting our supplies from??? I need the bi pap but using it during the last 3 Years is causing me to have asthma, g.e.r.d. A dry cough and hacking up mucus all day....

I feel so sick....could it be the tubing,masks, etc. I know companies what to save money and give the job to lowest bidder....We need to look into the products that are supposed to be helping might take 20 more years for it to be the meantime....we are suffering.

I feel like I'm walking around half dead...anyone else having these problems? I don't know which is worse using the machine and getting all these problems or going without and taking a chance of having a stroke or heart attack or even death....sick of being sick and tired....

Apr 14, 2016
by: Wulfman

For those who experience a cough after beginning CPAP therapy, investigate the medications you're taking. In particular, Lisinopril, the ACE medication often prescribed for high blood pressure and kidney protection for those with Diabetes is a KNOWN dry cough contributor.

If you ARE taking it, ask your doctor to switch you to an ARB type medication like Diovan/Valsartan or Cozaar/Losartan.


Aug 11, 2016
Gasping and coughing...
by: Anonymous

I've been using my CPAP for 4 years and recently I have been waking up gasping for air and coughing. I'm using the pillow mask and I sleep on my side. I keep the equipment clean and change the filters often. I'm waiting at this moment for call back from my provider. Anyone experiencing this concern? if so please give me some tips.

Aug 22, 2016
Coughing as well !
by: Anonymous

I got my CPAP Machine and pillow mask in APRIL! Did just fine until I started coughing in June!

I am Wondering if the summer air could be causing my problem! Was on Lisinopril but changed to Valsartan! Cough better but still waking up at night coughing!

Going back to doctor Sept 6- all of these comments make me wonder about "who is making our new equipment since older machines users have found switching to new machines have caused them to cough! Could be countries outside America are making these new machines???

Sep 15, 2016
Horrible cough after starting CPAP
by: Anonymous

10 days into new CPAP therapy. Not feeling any better or sleeping better. I have developed dry harsh cough, like I have smoked for 50 years !!

Never smoked, have reactive airway disease and occasionally need inhalers when really sick, but only when really sick. I have increased humidity on machine and not sure it helped.

I called my doctor and he said there is an adjustment period after beginning therapy and remain in touch about cough. Does anyone know what "time frame" for adjustment is, and will this subside anytime soon?

Any input would be greatly appreciated. The coughing sometimes starts at night and I remove CPAP, and continues throughout the day. I am a RN and work closely with patients and cough sounds horrible, but I am not sick. People think I am sick. Coughing did not start until I began CPAP!!! Help??

Sep 23, 2016
Coughing w cpap
by: Lisa

Thank you for your answers. I just woke up coughing, I was scared I did forget to use my advair last night. I don't know if that makes a difference. I have been on the cpap machine about a month. Not easy to get used too!

Oct 17, 2016
Puzzled NEW
by: Shy

Just as the rest of you I have OSA and sleep with a CPAP for the last 4 years. It is only recently I really started noticing the coughing more.Especially my husband which worries him. I too also have 12 different allergies and also Gastroesophageal (sp) Reflux.I thought id google it to see if its normal to have coughing which is how i wound up here. Reading through above I seen it suggested changing the humidifier settings so I will try that and see what happens.
I also wonder if OSA is hereditary? My uncle too lived with OSA as well.

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