What is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine?

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder in which breathing is interrupted throughout the night. A CPAP machine requires wearing a mask over the nose and uses air blown through a tube to continuously maintain an open airway during sleep. It should be worn anytime you sleep (day or night). While it appears uncomfortable, noisy and cumbersome, most people usually stick with it when they feel better after getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

Dr. Michael Breus, PhD
Psychology Specialist

This nifty device, which forces the airway to stay open so breathing is possible, is the best we have right now for treating sleep apnea. Sleep becomes much more restful and solid; it also shuts up the snoring that frequently accompanies that apnea.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a machine that uses a steady stream of air to gently keep your airway open throughout the night so you are able to breathe. You sleep with a mask on that has a hose attached to a machine kept at the bedside. Masks and machines may vary depending on your treatment and comfort needs. CPAP is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and is recommended for all cases.

This content originally appeared on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine website.

A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine blows air to keep the airway open during the night for sleep apnea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.