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A Primer on CPAP Machines for Sleep Apnea



How The CPAP Machine Works 

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive air pressure or CPAP machine. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat relaxes and soft tissue obstructs the breathing passage during sleep. A CPAP machine works by providing the airway with steady pressure, keeping it free from obstruction. CPAP is one of the safest and most effective solutions for obstructive sleep apnea. 

The best known type of CPAP device is a mask that covers both the nose and mouth during sleep. However, CPAP devices come in a wide variety of makes and models, customized to the sleeper and his or her needs. There are models that cover only the nose and even small nasal pillows that rest gently inside the nostrils. Our sleep medicine specialists will help you decide which model or models best suit your needs. 


A BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) device is very similar to a CPAP. It provides a steady flow of air which prevents obstructions. There are some CPAP users who have trouble exhaling against the flow of air. The BiPAP solves this problem by having two pressure settings, one for inhalation and another for exhalation. 


Like the other PAP devices, APAP (automatic positive airway pressure) uses air pressure to ensure unobstructed breathing. The difference is that the air pressure will automatically change based on the needs of the user. This can be beneficial for people who require a more adaptive device. For example, someone who is losing weight will likely benefit from having a machine that can adjust along with body weight. However, the adjustments can be slow, and people with certain health concerns are not able to use this machine. 

Your Sleep Medicine Specialist will make sure that you’re provided with the device best suited to your needs. 

Benefits Of CPAP

One of the most effective, safe and popular treatments for sleep apnea, CPAP provides a variety of benefits for its users. It should be noted that CPAP is most effective when used consistently every night and even during naps. CPAP may help with: 

  • Hypertension
  • Snoring
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent waking
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Choking/gasping during sleep
  • Arrhythmia 
  • Memory
  • Stroke
  • Energy Level
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood
  • COPD
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • GERD
  • Asthma
  • PTSD
  • Reduced Risk of Stroke

Does CPAP Have Any Side Effects? 

Using a CPAP machine doesn’t have any associated health risks. Some users complain of a dry mouth, but that can usually be fixed by adjusting your device or mask. In fact, most CPAP problems can be solved through minor adjustments. Our sleep medicine specialists will provide a comfortable mask that fits well.

How Much Does A CPAP Machine Cost? 

CPAP machines range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. The main device, the mask/nasal pillow and the flexible tubing are all usually covered by insurance. 

Is A CPAP Machine Hard To Clean? 

There is a small level of maintenance involved when it comes to a CPAP machine but doing it will keep the machine free from bacteria and dirt. Most devices will have a humidifier chamber that will require light cleaning daily and thorough cleaning weekly, and the mask and tubing will also need to be kept clean.There might be a filter that needs replaced. Each model will have different instructions for the cleaning and maintenance process, but generally speaking, it requires nothing more than mild, non-fragrant soap and warm water. There are even wipes designed to be used on CPAP machines. 

What Happens If My CPAP Breaks Down? 

CPAP machines are repairable, but always keep your prescription and warranty on hand. This will allow you to save money and time if the unexpected happens. Most CPAP devices should last about five to six years with proper maintenance. You will likely have to change out the mask/nasal pillows and tubing much more frequently. 

Stay on the safe side. Here is a test you can take so that you get all of your questions answered. It’s secure, quick and easy.

Schedule a Consultation Today 

If you snore or wake up in the middle of the night due to breathing problems, it could be caused by sleep apnea, an easily treatable sleep disorder that can result in long-term health issues. Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us. We’ve been treating sleep disorders for over twenty-five years, and our highly trained team of sleep specialists are standing by.