CPAP Cough: Top 5 Causes and Solutions

When you start using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea, it’s common to worry the first few nights about infections or side effects that it can cause. A CPAP machine can cause infections, but only if you do not maintain proper hygiene and clean it regularly. The most common infection symptom from a CPAP is a cough. Do you ever wake up in the morning with a dry, scratchy throat? And maybe you also notice that you’ve been coughing more lately? If so, you might have a CPAP cough. But don’t worry- CPAP cough is a common side effect of using a CPAP machine, but there are ways to reduce or eliminate the cough.

A CPAP cough will generally go away on its own if you take care of these few things mentioned below. You may have had a chronic cough due to OSA (Obstructive sleep apnea), and that’s why you started CPAP use to begin with. If your cough persists, even after taking all the safety measures, it’s time to consult your doctor. Here we will discuss what causes CPAP cough and how to reduce your chances of getting it. Stay tuned!

Worried about getting a CPAP cough or infection? Easy-to-use CPAP cleaners at CleanCPAP will kill 99%+ germs. Shop today!

The common causes of CPAP cough and their solutions

CPAP Humidifier Settings

If you don’t use a humidifier, the dry air from the CPAP enters your airways and dries your mouth, your nasal passages, and your throat, irritating the soft tissues. This can lead to phlegm and coughing. This is why most users prefer to use a humidifier. Furthermore, increasing humidity does not guarantee that you will not cough when using a CPAP. It’s important to test which level of humidity is best for you. Some CPAP users find relief from coughing when they set their humidifier to a lower setting, while others need a higher setting. This will also vary depending on how humid your environment is. Adjust your humidity and see if that resolves your cough.

Type of CPAP Mask

Which type of CPAP mask do you use? There is a possibility that using a nasal pillow mask is the reason behind your CPAP cough. If you do not use a proper mask and air pressure, you will sense that the air is being forced into the throat, irritating everything in its path. This leads to sore throat, coughing, and mucus secretion. As a result, the nasal airways lack sufficient moisture to humidify the CPAP treatment’s increased airflow properly. The nasal mucosa is then stripped of the moisture needed to humidify the air. Try a different mask and see if your coughing improves.

Disorders Causing CPAP Cough

Acid reflux or GERD can be aggravated by CPAP therapy. A contributor to GERD, as well as chronic coughing, is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Whenever you feel like vomiting (stomach juices entering your airway passage) or hear a liquid (acid) crackling in the back of your throat, you should contact your doctor immediately. Acid reflux can wear away the lining of your esophagus. You may also cough if you suffer from arthritis, sinusitis, interstitial lung disease, or bilateral pulmonary embolisms. There is no easy fix if your cough is due to other disorders, so be sure to consult your doctor.


Allergies can be a risk factor for cough. Did you know that some CPAP users are allergic to the CPAP filter? There are different types of filters available, so changing these filters is worth a try. But you may also have allergies to CPAP mask materials. Therefore, choosing the right type of parts and materials for your CPAP machine is essential. Allergies and CPAP cough are also related to the kind of water you use for your CPAP machine. Tap water may contain higher amounts of allergens than purified or distilled water. Choosing the right type of water is also an important parameter. If changing out your filters, mask, and using distilled water does not improve your situation, contact your doctor.

Improper Cleaning

Improper cleaning of your CPAP machine is the most common cause of getting a CPAP cough. When not cleaned regularly, the CPAP mask and tubing can become a hotbed for microbes causing various infections. Therefore, it is crucial to clean your equipment regularly. For quick cleanings, you can use a CPAP mask wipe daily. Whereas a CPAP cleaner should be used for thorough cleanings. Using a CPAP cleaner will ensure that there is no bacteria, virus, or mold present in your CPAP machine. All of these things contribute to annoying (and potentially dangerous) coughing, so be sure to keep your CPAP properly sanitized.

Save time and your health with CleanCPAP

CPAP therapy experts, including those at CleanCPAP, believe that most of the CPAP infections and CPAP cough, are caused by a dirty CPAP machine. Therefore, cleaning the CPAP equipment is the most essential step. Cleaning your CPAP with a UV or ozone CPAP cleaner is a better option than washing it by hand for busy sleep apnea patients. These automatic cleaners, slash the hassle of cleaning and are a great time-saver. Don’t wait for a cough or other infection to disrupt your life. Shop at CleanCPAP now, and start automating your CPAP cleaning!

CPAP cough

Scroll to Top