Continuous Positive Airway Pressure: What is CPAP Therapy?

Home Continuous Positive Airway Pressure: What is CPAP Therapy? 

Have you heard of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure ( CPAP)? It’s a common form of therapy that uses a simple bit of machinery to treat certain sleep disorders, allowing patients to recieve a good night’s sleep with constant oxygen allowing them to breathe unobstructed.

If you’re worried about CPAP treatment, this is the article for you. We are going to cover what continuous positive airway pressure treatment is, and why it is so effective at aiding patients with their sleep.

What is a CPAP machine?

A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine is a device that consists of multiple components:

  • A base unit that contains the motor that powers the CPAP machine
  • A cushioned mask that the patient wears as they use it
  • A tube that connects the base unit to the mask
  • A headgear frame consisting of adjustable straps that comfortably keeps the mask attached to the patient’s face
  • Elbow pieces that act as joints

How does a CPAP machine work?

As the name suggests, a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine involves the motor-powered compressor within the base unit of the machine providing a continuous stream of pressurised air that travels through an air filter and is delivered to the patient’s mask via the air tube.

The purpose of a CPAP machine is to eliminate potential obstructions from the patient’s airways. The stream of air from the machine pushes against any blockages and opens the patient’s airways so that their lungs can receive plenty of oxygen.

What does CPAP therapy treat?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy is used to treat sleep apnoea in patients. Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when a patient’s breathing is interrupted either by a temporary blockage or a brief airway collapse.

These breathing interruptions cause the patient to wake up in order to manually take in oxygen, which severely affects their capacity to sleep. This is where a CPAP device can help, as its continuous provision of oxygen allows the patient to breathe without obstruction while sleeping.

What other kinds of CPAP machines are there?

Different patients have different requirements when it comes to effective CPAP treatment. In order to accommodate different patients, there are various kinds of CPAP therapy available – from modifications to existing CPAP machines, to entirely different machines that regulate and distribute air in different ways.

If you have any questions about these machines, and whether or not they are better suited for treating your sleep apnoea, feel free to ask any of our dedicated sleep professionals. After all, we want to ensure that you get the best sleep possible.

Different kinds of masks

There are many different types of CPAP masks available in order to accommodate factors that differentiate between patients, such as:

  • Their breathing habits
  • The shape of their face (and subsequent comfort)
  • The kind of sleep apnoea disorder they have

As a result, the kinds of CPAP masks that are available include:

  • A nasal pillow mask that has a small cushion that caps over the nostril area. It may also have prongs that fit into the nostrils. This mask is designed for people that wear glasses or have facial hair that could obstruct their mask
  • A nasal mask that instead covers the entire nose, which is ideal for patients that tend to move around a lot in their sleep
  • A full mask that covers the mouth and nose, which is designed for patients that breathe through their mouth while they sleep


An APAP machine (a.k.a. Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) is a type of CPAP machine that, instead of offering continuous positive airway pressure, actively monitors the patient’s breathing through the night and automatically adjusts the air pressure. This machine is meant to compensate for patients whose breathing while asleep is affected by either constant movement or any medications.


Bi-Level positive airflow pressure is an alternative CPAP machine that offers two pressure settings; one for inhaling and one for exhaling. This machine is for patients that;

  • Can’t tolerate CPAP machines
  • Have elevated carbon dioxide levels in their blood
  • Have central sleep apnoea as opposed to obstructive sleep apnoea

This is because a BiPAP device comes with a backup respiratory rate that allows patients with OSA to initiate breath, whereas CPAP machines are intended for patients that can initiate breath, but have that breath be interrupted.

What are the benefits of using a CPAP machine?

There are many benefits that come from the use of a CPAP machine for patients with obstructive sleep apnoea. These benefits include:

  • The improvement of one’s ability to sleep without needing to wake up
  • The lowered risk of sleep apnoea affected conditions; such as a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • The reduction of daytime sleepiness
  • The potential for reduced blood glucose and cholesterol levels

How can I get CPAP therapy?

Book your appointment online by selecting your preferred clinic and choose from the list of our available specialists.

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