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Quiet Nights: How Do I Stop My PAP from Gurgling?

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is effective at improving your sleep, although it can take some people a little while to adjust to wearing a mask overnight. 

However, there is another issue that can threaten your quiet night’s sleep -- gurgling sounds.

What Causes the PAP’s Gurgling Sounds?

Gurgling or spitting type sounds from a PAP device is caused by condensation. Ideally, the temperature inside the tubing delivering the air to your mask should be the same as the room temperature outside the tubing. 

When the air in the tubing is warmer than the air outside the tubing, it leads to condensation. It is the air passing over this moisture that causes the gurgling sounds.

Most people use a heated humidifier with their machine to warm and moisten the pressurized air they inhale while sleeping. Therefore, if the room you are sleeping in is colder than the temperature of the humidifier, moisture begins to form in the tubing and the mask. 

This is more likely to occur during the colder winter or autumn months.

The gurgling sound may not be the only issue preventing you from sleeping. This build-up of condensation in the tubing and mask is termed PAP rain-out. As the condensation forms in the mask, beads of water begin to drop onto your face.

Benefits of Using a Heated Humidifier

If the condensation is created due to an imbalance in temperatures through using a heated humidifier, you might start thinking, “Why not just ditch the humidifier?”

This could cause more problems than it solves. Most devices come with a humidifier because of the benefits. These include:

  • provides comfort by reducing the dryness of the pressurized air
  • prevents dry mouth in the morning from inhaling and exhaling dry air
  • prevents irritation of the throat and sneezing caused by drier air
  • dry air can lead to cracked nasal tissues, which may lead to bleeding and possible infection
  • certain medications can heighten the risk of nasal dryness or a dry mouth

There are clear benefits around comfort in using a heated humidifier. When you are more comfortable using a PAP device, you are more likely to adhere to the treatment. 

Without treatment, obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

How Do I Stop My CPAP from Gurgling?

Gurgling sounds and rain-out are quite common issues. Therefore, you may be wondering, “How do I stop my PAP from gurgling?” It is not something you have to put up with and it can be addressed fairly simply. The following are five ways to stop the gurgling sounds.

  1. Adjust the Temperature

Temperature is the key factor in the condensation that causes your gurgling sounds. Therefore, you could turn down the temperature on the humidifier to match that of the room. You will still need to find a temperature you find comfortable enough to sleep.

Conversely, you could turn up the thermostat in your bedroom just before going to bed. You probably won’t find the ideal meeting point to prevent all the condensation straight away. However, with a few tweaks over a few nights, you should get the balance right that reduces condensation and the ensuing gurgling sounds.

  1. Reduce Humidity Levels

The higher the level of humidity, the higher the moisture level. Reducing the humidity within a heated humidifier can reduce the moisture and also prevent gurgling sounds. You should consult with your health provider first about whether this is feasible -- and if so, how to make the adjustment on your device.

  1. Use Heated Tubing

Heated tubing helps maintain a consistent temperature when the pressurized air is delivered from your device to your mask. It helps balance the temperature of the air within and outside of the tubing and can provide the best means to avoid condensation. 

This feature is also known as a climate line and most PAP machines come with them as standard. However, if you have an older device, you should still be able to find a heated tubing attachment. This prevents the need to buy a new device to prevent the condensation that is causing your gurgling sounds.

  1. Pull Up Your Bed Covers

This is the simplest of solutions. By positioning the tubing so that it remains under your bed sheets, you can maintain a warmer temperature in the tubing. 

Also, this reduces the chances of moisture within the tubing. This may not be for everyone, particularly if you tend to move a fair bit in the night. Insulating your tubing could offer similar benefits.

  1. Reposition Your Machine

Another easy-to-try solution is to place your PAP device on the floor next to your bed. While this may not address the condensation issue directly, it should help ensure moisture runs down the tubing toward the machine. This prevents the rain-out effect of moisture dripping off your mask onto your face, although the gurgling noises may not be completely banished.

PAP helps you sleep better as it relieves the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea – which reduces the risk of the health issues linked to the disorder. Anything that hinders your sleep can be counterproductive to the treatment. 

Gurgling or spitting sounds can keep you awake at night. With one or two simple adjustments, you can remove the conditions that cause moisture and the resulting gurgling sounds.

Sources:

https://www.resmed.com.au/knowledge-hub/why-is-there-a-gurgling-sound-in-the-tube-and-condensation-building-up-in-the-mask 

https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-avoid-moisture-in-cpap-tubing-3015190 

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