Sleep Apnea Treatment

What is continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP)?

A Answers (5)

  • AFred Lin, MD, Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology), answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System

    Continuous positive airway pressure treatment (CPAP) uses mild air pressure to keep an individual’s airway open and help him or her breathe more easily during sleep.  The CPAP is a machine with a nasal or full-face mask attachment. The machine blows air through the mask and pneumatically stents open the airway during a person’s sleep.  

  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common type of positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment. With CPAP, the air pressure is customized for you in the sleep lab, so it's just enough to keep your airway open. After using CPAP, apnea patients usually report feeling much better and having more energy.
  • AHealthwise answered

    Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is treatment provided by a machine worn at night or during times of sleep to treat sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which a person regularly stops breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in the throat, keeping tissues in the airway from collapsing when a person inhales.

    The CPAP machine delivers air through a mask that covers the nose and mouth, through a mask that covers only the nose (nasal continuous positive airway pressure, NCPAP), or through prongs that fit inside the nose. The mask that covers only the nose is used most frequently.

    CPAP is the most widely used treatment for sleep apnea caused by blocked airflow in the throat (obstructive sleep apnea).


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  • AMichael Breus, PhD, Psychology, answered
    CPAP therapy involves a machine with a headpiece worn during sleep, which pushes a constant stream of air through the airway, preventing it from collapsing. It is this repeatedly collapsing airway -- and the temporary halt in breathing and cut-off of oxygen -- that is the hallmark of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is among the most common sleep disorders, affecting more than 18 million Americans. The true number is likely much higher -- we know that this is a sleep disorder that remains significantly under-diagnosed. Sleep apnea poses serious health risks, and is linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity.
  • ADebra Fulghum Bruce PhD, Healthcare, answered

    Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nasal CPAP) is now the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea. It is almost 100 percent effective and safe for stopping snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. While CPAP is not invasive, it eliminates snoring and reduces the number of sleep-related breathing problems. By doing so, it decreases fragmented sleep and results in fewer problems of daytime sleepiness, fatigue and problems with mood and memory.

    CPAP works by maintaining a positive pressure inside your airway while you breathe. It acts as a support to prevent further narrowing or collapse of your airway, and it actually increases the size of the airway behind the palate and at the back of your tongue.

    CPAP is applied usually by a custom made, custom fit mask which is strapped on your nose. This mask is connected by a swivel and flexible hose to a special pump which quietly provides air under pressure to your nose. Instead of the nasal mask, you may prefer "nasal pillows," which are inserted into your nostrils. In some cases, a chin strap is helpful to keep your mouth closed to reduce loss of pressure. A full-face mask may be necessary in select cases.

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