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What is CPAP?

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment that uses air pressure to keep your airways open while you sleep. People who have breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, can benefit from CPAP treatment.

How is CPAP treatment given?

CPAP treatment is given through a machine that has a mask, tube, and motor. The motor sends air through the tube and into your mask. This mild air pressure prevents your airway from collapsing or becoming blocked. Use your CPAP machine whenever you sleep, even when you nap. You may need to use a CPAP machine for the rest of your life.

What are the benefits of CPAP?

  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Relieves daytime sleepiness
  • Reduces snoring
  • Reduces the risk of health problems caused by sleep apnea

What problems may occur with CPAP?

It takes time to adjust to CPAP treatment. You may not be able to wear the mask all night right away. At first, try to use your CPAP machine for a few hours every night. Then slowly increase the length of time you use your machine. If problems continue, contact your healthcare provider. Below are some solutions to common problems:

  • Your CPAP mask feels uncomfortable or irritates your skin. You may need a mask that is a different size, shape, or material. A mask with fewer straps may irritate your skin less. You may also need to use a special moisturizer made for CPAP machine users.
  • You have dry mouth or nasal irritation. These problems can be caused by the CPAP machine, a leaking mask, or breathing through your mouth. Some machines come with a heated humidifier to help relieve these symptoms. A chin strap to help keep your mouth closed or a different type of mask can help dry mouth. Use a saline nasal spray at bedtime to help relieve nasal irritation.
  • You have difficulty adjusting to the air pressure. You may feel like it is hard to exhale or like you are choking. You may burp or have stomach bloating because the air pressure is causing you to swallow air. You may need to adjust the air pressure on your machine or choose a different type of CPAP machine.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You gain or lose weight.
  • You continue to feel very sleepy during the day, even after you wear your CPAP device as directed.
  • Your CPAP is causing problems that do not improve.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, care, or equipment.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cpap

Micromedex® Care Notes