CPAP Mask and claustrophobia

by Roxie

I have claustrophobia and will be taking my first sleep test with a mask. I'm already starting to panic over this.

I can't even stand the covers near my face and I just don't know how I will ever be able to tolerate a mask!!

I also have low oxygen levels and need to wear oxygen, especially at night. Can the oxygen be worn with the sleep apnea gear? Please help - panic attacks are setting in.


I would suggest a nasal mask--some of them have Oxygen ports so that the oxygen nasal cannulas can feed O2 into the mask. That way if you feel panicky, you will always know you can open your mouth and breathe (but you should keep your mouth closed for effective treatment!).

For some, claustrophobia is due to the feeling of not being able to breathe...but once the mask is on, the air pressure provides air like standing in a breeze.

There are also ways to acclimate yourself to the mask; they may sound silly but need to be tried faithfully because they work. The main one is to set the machine and mask up in the living room during the day, put it on and turn it on. Watch TV, read etc while wearing it. This helps you take your mind off of it and off the fact that you are trying to sleep. You are awake and in full control of can also work out any quirks and learn the ins' and out's of your equipment.

I know this is stressful, but the key to CPAP success is attitude. So you have to be willing to put up with some claustrophobia and discomfort for the end result, which is feeling better.

Good luck!

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

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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May 11, 2010
Don't let claustrophobia keep you from trying this!
by: Jean

I have terrible claustrophobia, too. I was really worried about using a CPAP because of this. I told the tech this and they tested out nose pillows and that has worked well for me. I have been using my PAP for 5-6 weeks now and I have to say, it even helped my claustrophobia to a point. I was very claustrophobic about even going to bed. I felt like I was suffocating.

Well, I probably was because of the apnea. My oxygen levels were terribly low. Now that I am using the machine I even feel better about going to bed. I would be so exhausted because I didn't want to go to bed because of the feeling of suffocation. Now that I am on the CPAP, that feeling has gone away. I LOVE MY CPAP machine. I would never ever want to be without it.

I stopped breathing an average of 26x's an hour and my oxygen levels were in the low 80's. They are now in the upper 80's at the lowest point with the machine. Don't let claustrophobia keep you from trying this. The nose pillows work well for me. I feel more in control with this rather than a mask so it takes away some of the scariness away.

Best wishes to you!

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