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How Does CPAP Work To Improve Your Health?

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If you or a loved one suffers from Sleep Apnea, you may be looking for a better understanding of the topic. CPAP therapy is the most common treatment prescribed to treat Sleep Apnea, but you may be concerned about sleeping while attached to a machine. Learn more about the CPAP machine as you take significant steps to improve your sleep quality and your health.

What is a CPAP?

The initials “CPAP” stand for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP is a machine that delivers pressurized air via a hose and mask to your mouth and nose. It allows people Showing a picture of the Icon CPAP Machine from Fisher & Paykelwith Sleep Apnea to breathe better as they sleep.

CPAP machines typically fit on your nightstand. They’re easy to clean and last a long time with regular maintenance. Ideally, both you and your partner will sleep better when you use a CPAP.


For more information, check out: The Ultimate Guide to CPAP Devices & Features

What is a CPAP used For?

The CPAP serves as a nonsurgical treatment for people who suffer from Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea prevents you from breathing normally as you sleep.

If you suffer from Sleep Apnea, the soft tissue in your throat relaxes and closes the space that conducts air through your nose and into your lungs. That collapse causes breathing pauses and deprives your organs of the oxygen they need to function correctly.

You could experience anywhere from five to over 100 breathing pauses an hour. Every time a pause occurs, your brain wakes you up and interrupts your sleep, potentially creating a variety of health problems that can include daytime drowsiness, heart disease or stroke. You may also experience decreased energy, lack of focus and a bad mood.

The CPAP delivers air that opens your airway and allows you to breathe properly and sleep better. Your doctor will prescribe a CPAP to treat Sleep Apnea after you participate in a sleep study.

An accredited sleep physician conducts the study in a sleep lab or in your own home. The doctor evaluates your sleep and uses the study results to determine the severity of your Sleep Apnea. You may then receive a prescription for a CPAP machine and a specific air pressure setting and will choose a hose and mask type that combines to treat your condition effectively.

How does a CPAP Machine Work?

A small box houses the motorized fan and can fit on your nightstand or other compact space near your bed. The fan pulls air from the room and pressurizes it according to your specific prescription. You don’t have to worry about the fan’s noise keeping you awake because many machines operate under 30 decibels, which is as quiet as a whisper.

The air intake system also includes a replaceable filter. It captures impurities, such as dust, three types of sleep apneadander or smoke, and protects your body from breathing in those damaging particles.

Your CPAP may include an optional humidifier chamber. It heats the air and adds moisture to relieve discomfort and prevent dry mouth as you sleep.

The CPAP then pushes the pressurized air through a flexible, lightweight hose. Most hoses are six feet in length, giving you some flexibility in where you place the CPAP and enhancing your freedom of movement. The hose is replaceable when it shows signs of wear.

You’ll use the mask that’s connected to the CPAP hose to breathe in the pressurized air. Available in numerous shapes and sizes to fit your face, you may choose a full face mask that covers your nose and mouth, a nasal mask that covers only your nose or a nasal pillow mask that sits at the base of your nose where it creates a seal. Choose the mask type that fits comfortably and works properly, and replace it regularly.

What Does it Feel Like to Sleep with a CPAP Machine?

Despite the physical and mental effects of Sleep Apnea, you may resist using a CPAP because you wonder if you’ll be able to sleep with the machine running. Rest assured that you can customize your CPAP to ensure you get the best sleep possible.

First, your doctor may schedule a sleep titration study during your initial Sleep Apnea evaluation. It allows you to try several different machines and masks as you choose the right combination for you.

Then, explore CPAP machine options. Browse our selection of CPAP equipment online, and contact our CPAP experts via phone, email, or chat to ask any questions you may have about the CPAP machine and its parts. You may also seek advice from other CPAP users in online forums, including CPAPTalk.com, as you assemble your ideal CPAP system.

It will take at least a few days for you to adjust to using your CPAP. Initially, it may cause discomfort. The machine’s fan isn’t noisy, but the mask and hose may feel peculiar on your face and interfere with your preferred sleep position. You may also experience symptoms such as:

  • Dry Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Excessive Dreaming or Nightmares
  • Sneezing, Nasal Congestion or a Runny Nose
  • Eye or Skin Irritation
  • Abdominal Bloating from the Extra Air
  • Leaks Around an Improperly Fitted Mask

While the CPAP will become more comfortable as you use it, report any ongoing discomfort or Sleep Apnea symptoms to your doctor immediately. Many of the potential side effects are easy to fix, and you can often find a quick solution, such an adjustment in the air pressure or a different type of mask, that improves your comfort and encourages you to use your mask daily.

You can improve your sleep quality and overall health when you talk to your doctor today about how CPAP can work to treat Sleep Apnea. Also, find useful CPAP and Sleep Apnea information and tips for saving on equipment when you subscribe to our newsletter.

  • David Repasky

    David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it's like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient's perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

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