Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

What is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that uses mild air pressure to keep breathing airways open while you sleep.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe CPAP to treat sleep-related breathing disorders including sleep apnea. CPAP also may treat preterm infants who have underdeveloped lungs.

What does a CPAP machine include?

A CPAP machine includes:

  • A mask or other device that fits over your nose or your nose and mouth
  • Straps to position the mask
  • A tube that connects the mask to the machine’s motor
  • A motor that blows air into the tube

How does CPAP work?

You should use your CPAP machine every time you sleep at home, while traveling, and during naps.

Getting used to using your CPAP machine can take time and requires patience. Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the most comfortable mask that works best for you.

You may also need help from your healthcare provider to use the humidifier chamber in your machine or to adjust your pressure settings. You may also need to try a different machine that has multiple or auto-adjusting pressure settings.

For the treatment to continue to work, it is important that you clean your mask and tube every day and refill your medical device prescription at the right time to replace the mask and tube.

What are the benefits of CPAP?

You may notice immediate improvements after starting CPAP treatment, such as better sleep quality, reduction or elimination of snoring, and less daytime sleepiness.

Equally important are the long-term benefits of CPAP, which include:

  • Helping to prevent or control high blood pressure
  • Lowering your risk for stroke
  • Improving memory and other cognitive function

What are the possible side effects of CPAP?

Side effects of CPAP treatment may include congestion, runny nose, dry mouth, or nosebleeds.

Some masks can cause irritation. Your healthcare provider can help you find ways to relieve these symptoms and adjust to using your CPAP machine.


If you experience stomach discomfort or bloating, you should stop using your CPAP machine and call your healthcare provider right away.



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