CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

The air passages of the nose and the throat of some people become blocked or collapse while they are sleeping. This airway collapse causes a blockage, which can cause breathing to stop briefly. When breathing stops for a short time, it is known as apnea. Apnea is a serious condition and needs to be treated. CPAP is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is diagnosed by doing a sleep study.

CPAP is used to keep the air passages open while you sleep. A small air blower in the CPAP machine pushes air through a flexible tube. The tube attaches to a mask that fits over your nose, or nose and mouth while you sleep. The constant flow of air through the mask prevents the air passages in your nose and throat from collapsing, so your breathing does not stop. CPAP needs to be used every time you sleep to stop the apnea from occurring. If it is not used or not used correctly, apnea will return. Always take your CPAP with you when traveling or if you are admitted to the hospital.

Getting used to using CPAP

Most people find using CPAP helps them feel more rested.

For many people, it takes time to get used to wearing it. Try these tips to help you get comfortable with using CPAP.

  • Your mask should seal well enough to keep the air pressure needed. Work with your doctor or sleep specialist to figure out the best type of mask and straps that work for you. You may have to try several types before you find the right one. 
  • Try wearing the mask for some time while you are awake to get used to it. 
  • Try to wear the mask for the whole night. It is often tempting to take it off because it feels warm or tight, or sounds loud because air is leaking. The more you wear it, the easier it is to get used to.
  • Be sure the mask is sized to fit you. Just because you may wear a medium mask in one brand, doesn’t mean that you always need a medium-sized mask if you switch to another type. 
  • Most machines have humidifiers to add moisture to the air to reduce the air drying out your mouth or nose. 
  • If you have trouble breathing through your nose from allergies, sinus problems or other issues, talk to your doctor about how to treat the congestion. It can make using CPAP much better. 

Talk to the doctor or CPAP supplier if you have questions or problems.

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