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headache caused by CPAP
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headache caused by CPAP

I've been on a CPAP for 2 1/2 weeks.  I'm sleeping relatively well with it, 7-8 hours per night.  Almost every day since I've had the CPAP I've had headaches.  The headaches don't start when I get up, but rather a few hours later in the day.  Earlier this week I saw my doctor for a check up and told him about these headaches, and he said they were real and probably caused by pressure on the brain.  He told me I wouldn't "stroke out" but I may need a prescription for something like a diuretic if the headaches don't go away.  

Today I took some guaifenesin for sinus congestion and noticed it really did the job as far as diuretic effects go.  I also notice my headache disappeared and hasn't come back.

Does anyone know what the name of this "side effect" is?  I'm kind of worried now and won't get a chance to talk to the doctor for a couple of months.
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Avatar_f_tn
I should probably mention I'm only on a pressure of 7, and some days I have hardly any headache at all.  The headache severity seems to be related to how well I slept.  If I have a bad night I have a bad headache the next day, but a good night's sleep and I have very little headache.
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Avatar_m_tn
Good morning, Stacia!

I'm not sure that your headaches are caused by the CPAP machine.  Sometimes, fatigue will cause them.  You mention that the headaches are worse when you don't sleep well.  That's a good clue that fatigue is the issue.  I know that I get them too if I don't sleep well for more than a couple of days.  There could be a number of other explanations - like sinus issues - that could cause your problems.  I recommend you go to a sleep apnea forum at:  www.apneasupport.org.  There are many people in this forum with years and years of CPAP experience who can perhaps answer your question a little better than I can.

Best of luck!

Curt
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Curt.  I've been to that forum, not going back :)

The doctor and I only barely touched on the issue, he said he wanted to wait a couple more weeks because so many of his patients have headaches when they first start CPAP.  But because I don't get headaches during sleep or immediately on waking up, I also am not convinced they're from the CPAP itself.
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm sorry, but "pressure on the brain... may need... diuretics" is a bit curious of a headache explanation. I would not think there should be a problem with a call to ask for clarification without waiting for an appointment. Sinus pressure would be more understandable, as it makes sense the sinuses would have some adjusting to do with the pressurized air with a humidification level that's a new sensation. Frontal headaches would make sinuses suspect. Headaches around the back of the lower head could mean the headgear on your mask is putting pressure on a muscle or nerve if it's too tight around there.

Sometimes the poor sleep one gets while getting used to the mask can result in headaches, or poor sleep for any reason, for that matter. It's not likely it's the cpap treatment itself doing anything to cause headaches later during the day. If they continue, a journal of times, location, duration, etc. could help in narrowing down the cause.
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Avatar_f_tn
"It's not likely it's the cpap treatment itself doing anything to cause headaches later during the day."

That's what I thought as well, but the doc and his nurse were out of the office for a few days doing flu shots around town, so I won't be able to call to confirm what he said until Monday.  I had so much information given to me in the appointment that by the time I got home and answered a few phone calls I had forgotten some stuff.  He said a lot of his patients get headaches when they first start the CPAP therapy, that it could be "pressure" on the brain and if it doesn't go away on its own as I get used the the CPAP then to come back in and he'd prescribe a diuretic, or possibly something else.  I've forgotten the something else.  When I asked about the "pressure" he said "Oh, don't worry, you don't have an increased risk of stroke or anything" so maybe pressure isn't the right term.

At this point I'll just assume I've either forgotten or misremembered some things and call on Monday.  Thanks for the help!
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Avatar_n_tn
I guess , headache is one of the side effect of using CPAP.
[url=http://www.tibromedical.com]CPAP[/url]
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been on a CPAP since July. I just started having terrible headachs a couple of weeks ago. I don't know if its from the CPAP or not. But I wake up with one every morning. They are so bad that I feel like throwing up...
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Avatar_m_tn
I am recent to this cpap thing and am on pressure 9. I am having the same issue but my headaches start about 4 hours into sleep, very mild pain and when I wake up its bad all day.Did you ever figure out what it is? my sleep study nurse said try vicks to clear sinus area. gonna try that tonight
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Avatar_f_tn
I never did ask the doctor for more clarification because my headaches slowly went away over about 1-2 weeks after I posted this. If you do a search for "Water retention and OSA/CPAP??" you'll find a support forum with a letter someone posted that their registered nurse sent them. Part of that letter says, "The use of CPAP can decrease the amount of urine that you produce with a consequent increase in water retention and body weight. For the first two weeks of CPAP therapy I suggest that you weigh yourself every day when you wake up in the morning. If you notice a sudden increase in your body weigh (more than 3-4 pounds in one day), please contact your physician."

I can't do a direct link to the post but I think it's very worth it to do a search and find it so you can read the whole thing. It might be part of your problem.

I believe that the brief water retention issue is what happened with me. Officially a CPAP does not cause retention, but once the water retention issue diminished for me then so did my headaches.

I've been on the CPAP for almost 4 years and it has been great -- good luck!
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Avatar_m_tn
I also started using a CPAP for a few weeks and my pressure setting is also at 7, and I also have a continuing problem with headaches.  Just like you some days the headache starts later in the day, but its almost certain I will have a headache at some point during the day, the only question is to what degree.  I am going to stop using my machine and consult with my sleep specialist about the issue.  My machine does have a built in humidifier.  My big side effect is headaches with some bloating/gas retention.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am trying to adjust to a bi-pap machine with a beginning pressure of 18 - having a terrible time trying to use it.  I usually can only make it for a few hours per night and I can't sleep while it's on.  I am just wide awake.  I am also having headaches - I think from all the Velcro bands around my head.  I've been trying this for a week - any ideas on how long it takes to adjust?  I'm about to give up!
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