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What is CPAP? Everything you need to know

CPAP — or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure — is a type of therapy that applies mild air pressure to a person’s upper airway to keep their airway open so that they can breathe normally while they sleep. CPAP can be used to treat breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea and chronic snoring.1

How does CPAP work?

CPAP uses an air pump and mask to deliver mild air pressure to the upper airway of a person while they sleep. The air pressure can be constant or variable depending on the type of machine. For example - fixed pressure machines, generally referred to as CPAP machines, deliver a constant air pressure while the person is sleeping. Automatic, or Auto-Titrating Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) machines, have an in-built algorithm that delivers a variable air pressure according to the person’s needs.1

The CPAP pump takes in room air and pressurises it and then transports the pressurised air through a tube and mask and delivers it via the nose or nose and mouth into the upper airway (throat). The pressurised air prevents the upper airway from collapsing, allowing the person to breathe normally while they sleep. 

What are the CPAP Components?

CPAP relies on two main parts: the pump and the mask.

CPAP masks come in all shapes and sizes. There are typically four types of sleep apnea masks: nasal pillows, nasal masks, full-face masks, and oral masks. Each mask fits slightly differently. In consultation with a CPAP Australia specialist, you select the mask type that best fits you and is most comfortable. 'Finding a mask that suits you while you are asleep is essential to successful CPAP therapy, so make sure you try on a CPAP mask while you are lying down. If you’d like to book an appointment to find the right mask for you, simply get in contact with us to arrange a time that suits you.

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of CPAP pumps: fixed pressure and automatic pressure. Fixed pressure pumps apply continuous pressure that has been pre-set to suit your specific requirements.

Automatic pressure pumps monitor airflow and continuously adjust air pressure based on your changing needs throughout the night. These kinds of pumps are most useful for patients whose positive airway pressure requirements vary during sleep. Your sleep specialist and CPAP therapist can help you decide which is best for you.

Small, easy to use and effective sleep therapy:

New call-to-actionTechnology has made major leaps over the past few years, and now it's possible to squeeze the functionality of a primary CPAP machine into a much smaller package. The ResMed AirMini is a testament to this. 

This compact and complete solution will impress, whether you are looking for a portable travel CPAP machine or a primary device for your sleep apnea treatment.

We've put together a guide about the AirMini here. Check it out! 

Find out more about the AirMini

How long has CPAP been around?

CPAP was invented by Professor Colin Sullivan in 1981 while he was a Senior Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Sydney and Honorary Physician at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Continuous positive airway pressure has since become the treatment of choice for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

How long does CPAP take to work?

Everyone’s experience with CPAP is different. If a person is receiving the correct pressure to maintain their upper airway, their obstructive sleep apnea and snoring will be treated immediately. How long a person takes to feel the positive benefits of CPAP during the day may vary. Some users report positive results after a single night of therapy. Other users find that it takes a little time to adjust to the new therapy before they feel benefits during the day. It can also take people (and their partners!) a while to come to terms with using the mask and machine every night.

Why it is done

CPAP is the most effective nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

It is the first treatment choice, and is the most widely used. It is considered the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea.

How well it works

Overall, CPAP is effective for obstructive sleep apnea and will reduce or stop your snoring. It is widely regarded as the most effective way to treat OSA2. Research shows that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) decreases daytime sleepiness, especially in those who have moderate to severe sleep apnea.3

Are there any side effects?

The non-invasive nature of CPAP makes it a safe form of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.1 The extra flow of air may lead to drying of the nose and throat, a runny nose, a stuffy nose or sneezing but these can be addressed with humidifiers and chinstraps.

The most common problem with CPAP is that people do not use the machine every night. Or they take off the mask during the night because it becomes uncomfortable. Even one night of not using the machine can make you sleepy the next day.

What to think about

When you are using CPAP, it can be useful to see your doctor or one of the team at CPAP Australia regularly.

You may also need more sleep studies to adjust the CPAP machine and check whether the treatment is working.

If you are considering your options to purchase a CPAP machine and mask, you may want a rent-to-buy option instead whereby you pay off the machine each month over a time period. Or you may choose to rent a CPAP machine first.

Getting your treatment right can make a world of difference to your well-being, how you feel, the energy you have each day, your mood and your overall health.

What next?

If you’re considering CPAP as a treatment option for your sleep apnea, the first step is to undertake a CPAP Trial. If you are not sure that CPAP therapy is the right option for you, then this is an easy no-commitment way to try it at a low cost. Ready to take a CPAP Trial? Click below to get started!

EdenSleep CPAP Trial
Interested in a CPAP Trial?

If you're not sure that CPAP therapy is the right option for you, then a CPAP Trial is an easy way to try it at a low cost.

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  1. CPAP Fact Sheet - http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/fact-sheets-a-z/184-cpap.html
  2. 30 Years of CPAP - http://www.resmed.com/au/dam/documents/articles/clinical_newsletter/resmedica14.pdf
  3. Weaver T.E., et al. 2007 “Relationship between hours of CPAP Use and Achieving Normal levels of Sleepiness and Daily Function” Sleep, vol. 30, No. 6, pp. 711-719