Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is pressure that is delivered into your airway by a machine. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure MachineCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Cough or difficulty breathing
    • Chest pain
    • Feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, or headache
    • Ear pain that increases when using the CPAP machine
    • Difficulty adjusting to the machine, beyond what is expected

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is pressure that is delivered into your airway by a machine.

    Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine
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    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for the Use of CPAP


    CPAP is used
    to keep the airway open and allows air to more easily move in and out of your lungs. It is used most often to manage
    obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a period of time during sleep when breathing is blocked. This can happen several times each night. CPAP is considered to be the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, which may help to:

    • Decrease daytime sleepiness

    • Decrease
      high blood pressure
    • Decrease heartburn symptoms
    • Improve quality of life

    CPAP may also be used in preterm infants. Under-developed lungs can be a common problem in preterm infants. CPAP can help support the infant's lungs until they can develop fully. It may prevent or decrease the need for more invasive treatments or medications. This article is focused on CPAP for sleep apnea.

  • Possible Complications

    Most patients who use CPAP report at least one side effect. The first night using a CPAP machine can be difficult. You may even sleep worse at first. It is important to prepare for this adjustment. Talk with your doctor about steps you can take to minimize any discomfort.

    CPAP is considered very safe. Talk to your doctor about potential complications, such as:


    • A feeling of
      claustrophobia
      or suffocation from wearing the face mask
    • Rash or pressure sores in the area of the face mask

    • Nasal congestion and
      nosebleeds

    • Sore eyes,
      conjunctivitis
    • Sore or dry throat
    • Headaches
    • Abdominal bloating
    • Chest muscle discomfort