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Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure?

A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device is a breathing assistance machine that delivers constant air pressure into your mouth and nose. This helps to keep your airway open. It will allow you to inhale completely. The pressure is delivered through air from the machine through a face mask covering your nose or mouth and nose.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

CPAP is most often used for obstructive sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing. This is a condition in which breathing stops during sleep many times during a night. This can lead to daytime sleepiness and many other complications. CPAP helps to keep the throat and airway open. People suffering from sleep apnea can then breathe normally while sleeping. It is considered to be the most effective treatment for sleep apnea.

Many patients who use CPAP for sleep apnea have the following:

  • Decreased daytime sleepiness
  • Decreased high blood pressure
  • Decreased heartburn symptoms
  • Improved quality of life

CPAP is also occasionally used:

  • In the hospital for patients with acute congestive heart failure
  • For preterm infants
  • During...

Possible Complications

Most patients who use CPAP report at least one side effect. The first nights using a CPAP machine can be difficult. You may even experience poorer sleep at first. It is important to prepare for inconveniences until you become accustomed to the CPAP treatment. Talk with your doctor about steps you can take to minimize any discomfort.

CPAP is a noninvasive, nonsurgical way of improving sleep with sleep apnea and is considered very safe. Talk to your doctor about 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...