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19 key CPAP terms you need to know

When you pick up your sleep apnea therapy equipment, you’ll hear some common CPAP terms that deal with how to use it, care for it and view your CPAP data. Knowing these CPAP terms will help you understand how your equipment works and quickly adapt to CPAP treatment.

19 Key CPAP terms you need to know:

  1. Compliance: The act of meeting requirements for your sleep apnea treatment to be adequately effective. Ask your CPAP equipment provider what your exact compliance requirements are.
  2. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure): CPAP works to treat sleep apnea by delivering air at a constant and continuous pressure into your upper airway to help keep it open during sleep.
  3. Cushion/Pillow: The part of your mask that touches your face – responsible for creating a stable and comfortable seal to keep air in.
  4. Therapy Data Download: The process of transferring your CPAP machine’s data (ie, usage hours, apnea events, leak) to a computer, smartphone or SD card (which can then be uploaded onto a computer).
  5. Efficacy: How well your CPAP machine is comfortably treating your apnea events.
  6. EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure): This mode of breathing support only applies positive pressure when you are exhaling. Provent and Theravent are examples of EPAP. 
  7. EPR™ (expiratory pressure relief): A comfort setting on CPAP machines that provides a small decrease in your machine’s EPAP of 1, 2 or 3 cm H2 You and your clinician can both control EPR.
  8. Events: Refers to either mask events (ie, when your mask comes off or leaks while you’re asleep) or apnea events (a combination of apneas, when you stop breathing for 10+ seconds while sleeping, and hypopneas, when your upper airway’s air flow is reduced by at least half for 10+ seconds while sleeping).
  9. Filter: The device on every CPAP machine’s air intake that removes dust and other unwanted particles from the air that enters your CPAP mask.
  10. Follow-up: When your CPAP equipment provider wants you to come back in to discuss your CPAP data and if there are any discomfort or efficacy issues that need addressing.
  11. Full face mask: A CPAP mask that covers your nose and mouth.
  12. Mask leak: An event in which air escapes from underneath the cushion of your CPAP mask, or out the mouth of someone who wears a nasal or nasal pillows mask.
  13. Nasal mask: A CPAP mask that covers your nose.
  14. Pillows mask: A CPAP mask that rests on the base on your nose.
  15. Pressure: The prescribed air pressure at which your CPAP machine will deliver air into your upper airway to splint it open and prevent apnea events, measured in “cm H2O”.
  16. Resupply: The process of ordering replacement parts (eg, mask cushions, mask, tubing, headgear) through your CPAP equipment provider.
  17. SD Card (Secure Digital Card): Used to upload data from your CPAP machine to a computer.
  18. Usage: The amount of time your CPAP machine is turned on. Your CPAP equipment provider will tell you how many usage hours you should aim for each night.
  19. Wireless: The ability of some CPAP machines to automatically transfer your CPAP data to your computer or smartphone via wireless modem.

With these key CPAP terms, you can begin to understand more about your CPAP machine and how to maintain it for better sleep each night. Now that you have the key CPAP terminology for everyday use and discussion with your CPAP equipment provider, download our eBook on 7 Ways To Treat Sleep Apnea to better understand what other methods you can use to regain control over your sleep.

If you want to know more about how to use your CPAP machine for the best night’s sleep, check out our blog on tips for falling asleep on CPAP.

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