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
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.

Oct 28, 2016
I cough too
by: Ehf

I am sorry so many of you are going through these coughing attacks but I'm feeling relieved because I have been coughing from (the use of my cpap?) for months now.

I do use Lisinopril but I am going to ask to get that medication switched. I am going to look into a different type of filter as I read that some people are allergic to the type of filters. I am also going to try to research the tubing options.

Wouldn't it be sad if the type of plastic in the tubing was making us all cough. I think the doctor's need to read these threads and realize something needs to be done about this, too many people having the same coughing problems. Hope to find some solutions I can share with you.

Nov 15, 2016
by: Anonymous

I have ben a cpap user for two years and yes , I am getting more hours of steady sleep....I dread waking up because the coughing begins....for an our or so...Every day same old same old....Dr's who know little to nothing about Cpap therapy want to run tests that never have an answer,he prescribes medication that never works........Many people use these machines...The industry loves the sales and the user suffers with NO answers. Dr. Rosenberg in Prescott AZ has written many books on the subject that sells tons of these units but even he has no conclusive answers.....Is it about dollars or safety ? Are we developing a whole society of users that solve one problem that created another problem

Nov 15, 2016
by: Valerie

I have been on the CPAP machine for a tad over a month....that's when the coughing started. At first I was coughing in the middle of the night, until I began taking a cough drop right before I went to bed and having a bottle of water on the night stand.

I still cough during the day, though. Also clearing throat a lot. My machine has a heated humidifier which seems to be working. (BTW I am on Lisinopril as well, but, have been for years).

Along with the coughing I am wondering if anyone has used a mask sealer? Rezzzmed sells them. Its supposed to seal the mask all the more, you know, around your eyes,and at your chin. (I use a Quattro Air full face mask).
Any thoughts would be helpful!

Nov 24, 2016
Coughing like a smoker.
by: Anonymous

I'm a cpap user for 8 years now. I have been coughing for a very long time. Never put two and two together till today.

I have been going to sleep with a cough drop in my mouth for many years. My coughing has gotten much worse (like I've been smoking for 50 years)

I googled cpap and coughing and came across this site. I found my answer!!!!! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR INPUT.

Jan 12, 2017
by: JO


Mar 15, 2017
cPAP - cough
by: Robin

Wow I am a new CPAP user and had no cough until I started using the machine. Now I sound like death warmed over. I have been using for about 3 1/2 weeks. i took steroids and antibiotics for a week and it didn't help. I have a dry cough and am hoarse. Waiting to hear back from my pulonary Dr. Seems like too many of us to be coincidental.

Mar 16, 2017
Just began coughing
by: Anonymous

Have had my CPAP machine for months with no problem, then all of a sudden have started coughing at night so much so that it is impossible to rest. I am fine if I take the mask off but I can't go on like this! The company gave me a new hose and mask, and am wondering if the new materials are bothering me. How would I clean any mold out of the machine itself? I don't see any, but have read where others have and am concerned this may be cause for my coughing? Help! So sleepy during the day.

Apr 10, 2017
The most annoying cough that won't go away. NEW
by: Anonymous

I have had a chronic cough for maybe 20 years. I find when I am in a crowd with loud music, I seem to strain my voice to talk above the noise, which then turns in to a coughing frenzy and eventually, I am unable to speak for coughing. I also cannot sing a whole song through without starting to cough. Late last year, I discovered through a sleep test, that I had Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I was really hopeful that once using the cpap machine for a few months, that My cough would disappear, however, after 4-5 months, no change. This is the one most annoying part of my life. I also cough if I am anxious and this is also a problem. I find this all so distressing.
I am still hoping that eventually this will be resolved with using my cpap machine. Quite often the cough is loose, especially in the mornings. Many people ask me if I smoke as it sounds a lot like a smokers cough. All X-Ray's come back normal.

Apr 21, 2017
woke up with a cough that felt like I must have been chocking NEW
by: debphome

using the Cpap for just about 5 wks. I woke up last night for the second time since using the machine started coughing out of the blue. it felt like I must have been chocking or maybe my airway suddenly was blocked, coughed for a little while and was able to go back to sleep.I called the sleep dept where I got the machine and they acted like they have never heard of such a thing! asked me to bring in my machine so they could read the chip and see if I may need more pressure during sleep or maybe less, I am only on a 3 setting now.
it does have heat with a humidifier. So frustrating to have to use something to prevent heart problems and still have to wake up with a cough.

Apr 21, 2017
what machine do you use? NEW
by: Ehf

For the people who switched from a good machine, to a bad machine and back to a good one, please share the make & model of the good machine and the bad. We need to see if the majority of people with the coughing and mucus are using the same machine. We also need to know make & model of machines that don't end up with a dry cough.

When I clean my machine I now use a non scented dish soap, much prefer (and maybe it helps) not to have a strong scent of soap after cleaning, especially in the tubing.

I sympathize with everyone, I have also had bouts with dry coughs.

Jun 12, 2017
What machine, filter does not cause coughing? NEW
by: Anonymous

I just started using the CPAP machine 3 days ago. Over the 3-day period I have developed symptoms of severe flu, and my xisting illness has worsened.

It started with a little sore throat and dry sinius the first morning, and overall exhaustion. I was a zombie. Well, I frequently feel like a zombie in the morning because I have fibromyalgia, but the medication has made a huge difference over the past year-and-a-half since diagnosis. That first day after CPAP, I just couldn't shake it, even with Aderall.

The second morning, I had a sore throat, and wheezy, gurgly lungs, a stiff neck, and a sharp headache. I put that down to the CPAP machine. I was also light-headed, with achey joints. THAT sounds like the flu. But I never get summer colds. My CPAP machine is made be ResMed. It has a humidifier, hose heater, and regular filter.

Even more disturbing, on the second morning, my crazy fibromyalgia symptoms came back — random, sharp pains in soft tissues, large areas of skin feeling sunburned, lower back on fire. AND to top it off, my MS symptoms kicked in — numb hands and vertigo. But by evening, I felt better.

Both MS and fibro symptoms can get worse when your immune system is in an uproar. Even symptoms you have learned to live with can quickly escalate and add to your misery. But this is a temporary reaction to your immune system going on red alert. Something to do with stress and neurotransmitters. They generally improve when you get over your flu, bronchitis, whatever.

So, what got my system in this state? Like an idiot, I just assumed that I was coming down with something, and used the CPAP again last night. Today, Day 3, I had to call in sick. You know what else can trigger a relapse or exacerbation? Allergies, or exposure to toxins.

Thank you all for posting your complaints about coughing, wheezing, sneezing and general misery, and more importantly, your CONCLUSIONS that some agent is at work, whether it's allergy-triggering compounds in the silicone, filters and equipment, or allergy-triggering mold and mildew. I can't tolerate any of those, and if I continue to stress my immune system, my other conditions will get worse. I do have moderate obstructive sleep apnea. And would love to know what equipment would NOT cause those symptoms.

My thanks also to the person who suggested that we alert our doctors to this problem. It is obviously not going away. And should NOT be dismissed put of hand! Some of you have had good experiences returning to your older equipment. Please share!

Jun 14, 2017
CPAP causes dry mouth dry suit and it is a pain NEW
by: Anonymous

I have tried all the CPAP mask I personally think it can cause coughing sore throat's you name it and a dry nose even if you do have a humidifier in it also screws up your face as far as getting it broken out this I was told by a dermatologist that CPAP mask cause a lot of problems on peoples faces it's a shame we have to use them

Jun 22, 2017
sleep apnea implant therapy NEW
by: Ehf

see the link above. New therapy. I do not know anyone who has had this procedure. Maybe we should all pay attention to results for people who try this and keep it in mind. I like giving it some time before trying it myself.

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