What is a CPAP Machine, and What Does It Do?

You might be wondering, “What is a CPAP machine?” How does it work? It is the most common way to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A doctor can prescribe it, or a sleep study will tell you you need to use it.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about what a CPAP machine is, how it works, and how to use it safely and competently. We will also tell you about the different kinds of devices and masks on the market.

What is a CPAP Machine?

A picture of a CPAP machine that is used in treating sleep apnea

The most common use for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is sleep apnea treatment, a sleep disorder in which the patient’s breathing stops and repeatedly starts throughout the night. Because it maintains a constant and steady stream of air pressure, it keeps your airways from closing while you are sleeping, which makes it easier for you to breathe.

A hose and a mask are required for the machine to contact a patient. After the CPAP mask has been secured on the user’s face, the machine will begin to deliver air through the mask to the patient’s mouth and nose.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

A picture of a man lying down on his bed.

The term “obstructive sleep apnea” refers to the type of sleep apnea that affects most people. This occurs because the muscles in your throat relax while you are sleeping. The relaxation of the muscles ultimately results in obstruction of the airways. Because of this, the patient may suddenly stop breathing.

This particular form of sleep problem is associated with various unpleasant side effects, and it is even possible to be fatal.

Additionally, you will experience less restful sleep at night and increased sleepiness during the day due to this condition. People who have trouble breathing may find it harder to fall asleep at night. Since they don’t get enough sleep at night, staying awake during the day will be hard.

How CPAP Controls Sleep Apnea

A picture of a man having a CPAP therapy

A steady stream of air will pass through a tube-mounted air filter as it travels through the tube, and the machine’s internal components will pull air in from the immediate environment.

After that, it will pressurize the air to a level between 4 to 25 centimeters, equivalent to water pressure. After that, the air will go via a humidifier before it gets delivered to the mask.

The mask will be inflated with air as it fills up. During the positive airway pressure therapy, this air will assist in pushing against any obstructions and clearing them. Because of these blockages, people often wake themselves up to restart their breathing.

To maintain normal breathing patterns when the patient is asleep, the patient will rely on the air to perform the tasks that the relaxation of the throat muscles cannot complete on their own.

Using a CPAP machine regularly can help your throat muscles become stronger over time. The longer you utilize the device, the more benefits you’ll accrue.

How to Use a CPAP Machine

A picture of a middle-aged man having coffee

Follow these simple steps to get started:

#1: If you use a humidifier, you should fill the container with distilled water and set it inside the device. This phase should always come first in the process. You should also ensure that you only use distilled water in the recipe. If you use tap water in your humidifier, a chalky film may form at the device’s base, making it more difficult to clean.

It is acceptable to drink water from the tap or a bottle occasionally, especially if it has been boiled before consumption, but only in extreme cases. After each use, check to ensure your CPAP has been appropriately cleaned.

Relate Article: Why You Should Use Distilled Water in Your CPAP

#2: Many machines contain a ramp mode that enables you to begin the night at a lower therapeutic pressure and gradually ramp up over the night to your prescribed pressure, making it simpler to get to sleep. Consider how often you use this function, and then check that it is correctly configured on your device.

#3: Starting with the CPAP headgear, slide the mask into place so that it covers your face. Most masks require that you first slide the headgear over the back of your head, and only then should you position the cushions and the frame.

#4: Clip the CPAP headgear to the frame

#5: Start the machine by turning on the power switch.

What are the Different Types of CPAP Machines?

APAP (Automatic positive airflow pressure)

This monitors how well you are breathing all through the night. It will automatically adjust the air pressure to compensate for any variations in your breathing pattern that alterations in your sleep position or drugs may have caused.

BiPAP (Bi-level positive airflow pressure)

This machine has two different pressure settings:

  1. One is for breathing.
  2. Another for exhaling at a lesser pressure. 

Individuals who cannot tolerate CPAP machines or who have high amounts of carbon dioxide in their blood are the target population for this treatment.

Patients who suffer from central sleep apnea may benefit from adding a backup respiratory rate available on some BiPAP devices.

Because beginning to breathe is the primary challenge presented by central sleep apnea, the backup respiratory rate ensures that the individual continues to do so.

CPAP (Continuous positive airflow Pressure)

This machine is set up to generate pressured air at a constant air pressure level using programming. You must reset the device’s settings to modify the air pressure.

Related Article: CPAP vs BiPAP Machine: Which One Is Right For You?

Different Types of CPAP Masks

A picture of a man talking with his doctor about his CPAP treatment

Different brands of CPAP machines provide a variety of mask types to choose from. Your way of breathing, how comfortable the mask is for you to wear, and the sort of sleep apnea disorder you have all play a role in determining the type of mask you should wear.

The following are some of the several types of CPAP masks available:

Nasal mask.

This option includes a covering for your nose. It is common practice to offer a nasal mask to patients who move about a lot while sleeping.

Nasal pillow mask.

Like a traditional face mask, a nasal pillow mask will cover the area around your nostrils instead of your complete nose. Various models available feature prongs that may be inserted into the nostrils. People who use nasal pillow masks can use their glasses without any discomfort.

Full mask.

This mask has a triangular shape and fits over the mouth and nose. People who sleep with their mouths open and breathe through their mouths should use a complete mask. If you suffer from nasal obstruction, your doctor or other healthcare professional may also advise you to use this mask.

For more information, click the link here: CPAP Mask Types: Everything You Need To Know!

Tips for Avoiding Common Issues With CPAP Devices

A picture of a man having trouble with his CPAP.

CPAP machines can positively influence people’s lives, but if they are not set up properly, they can be difficult to use and quite uncomfortable. CPAP machines come with various parts and accessories, and these components and accessories must be used appropriately for the machine to succeed.

You are responsible for checking that the components are compatible with one another. This is especially important if you buy components from different manufacturers. In addition, because the way people sleep can affect how well masks fit, you may have to adjust how you sleep or look for a mask compatible with how you prefer to sleep.

Ensure proper fit.

You may only receive beneficial treatment if you use a CPAP machine that suits your face properly. A mask that does not fit properly or an insufficient seal will not successfully keep the airway open and will enable air to escape.

Before putting on the mask, check that all of the connections are tight and conform to the shape of your face. This will help you avoid any problems.

You should use a CPAP humidifier.

When you breathe regularly via your nasal passages, your nose acts as a humidifier, making normal breathing much more comfortable. When you use a CPAP machine, your nose cannot warm the compressed air as quickly as the machine does. This can cause your mouth to feel dry, your nose to run, and other symptoms similar to a cold.

The use of a humidifier that is compatible with CPAP can make treatment more bearable. It is necessary, however, to select a humidifier that can be adjusted to the optimum temperature to keep the optimal moisture level in the air and keep your face from feeling damp.

The compatibility of CPAP masks.

There are a few notable exceptions, but most CPAP masks are compatible with the machines they attach to. An adapter may be necessary for some older mask models and tiny CPAP equipment to ensure a secure connection. Before you go out and buy a mask, you should be sure that the style you want will be compatible with the hose and machine you plan to use.

Adapt yourself to using a CPAP mask.

It may take some time to become acclimated to a new component of your sleep regimen, particularly one that is as obvious as a mask, especially if you haven’t used one before. There are many mask styles, some of which have a more contoured fit than others. However, it will take some time to get used to wearing a mask while you sleep, which is true regardless of the type you select.

Some people who sleep on their sides or stomachs may find it challenging to wear a CPAP mask because pillows can affect how the mask fits properly. You can alleviate any discomfort caused by using CPAP by purchasing pillows designed to work with the device. These pillows can fit both the mask and the hose.

Your CPAP machine is dirty? Read Best Ways To Clean Your CPAP Machine.

The Advantages of CPAP machine

  • A decrease in the amount of daytime sleepiness.
  • Enhanced levels of restful sleep
  • A potentially significant improvement in glucose management in diabetic patients.
  • A reduced possibility of having a heart attack or a stroke.

The Disadvantages of CPAP machine

  • Nasal congestion.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Apprehension and a challenging time getting to sleep, particularly in the beginning.
  • Claustrophobia.

Other CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea

Read here: 7 CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea 2023


A CPAP machine is a device used to help people with obstructive sleep apnea breathe better at night. If you have been diagnosed with OSA, your doctor may recommend using a CPAP machine while you sleep.

The good news is that using a CPAP machine can be an effective treatment for mild or severe sleep apnea and can help improve your quality of life.

We hope this blog post has answered some of your questions about CPAP machines and how they work.

If you still have questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to set up a discovery call with you to discuss your specific needs and see if our services fit you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take my CPAP machine on a plane?

Read here: All You Need to Know About Traveling with Your CPAP

How much does a CPAP machine cost?

Most CPAP machines’ prices fall between $250 and $1,000. However, accessories such as filters, masks, tubing, or mask cushions are often sold separately. Your health insurance may pay for all or part of your equipment, but many companies don’t cover extra features.

How and Where to Get a CPAP machine

Most people get their CPAP device in one of two ways:

  • By Buying Online.
  • By using an insurance company.

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