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What is a CPAP Machine? How Does it Work?

Do you often feel exhausted even after a proper night’s sleep? Do you experience disturbed breathing patterns during sleep? It could be a serious sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, that needs correction before you start experiencing any further complications.

The most common way of treating sleep apnea is using a CPAP machine. This machine helps in keeping the airways of the user open while they sleep. Hence, it manages the proper requirement of oxygen during sleep time.

What is a CPAP Machine?

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This machine is vital for completing CPAP therapy, which helps in treating obstructive sleep apnea. It is a small rectangular box-shaped machine with a motorized fan and humidifier. The machine comes attached to a flexible tube that leads to a breathing mask.

The fan within the device creates a slight positive pressure within the mask to deliver pressurized air to your mouth and/or nose, as per the type of mask you use. It means there won’t be any lapses while breathing at night due to the positive air pressure that keeps the airways open.

There is even an optional humidification chamber within the CPAP machine. However, many people go for the CPAP with a humidification chamber to ensure lack of enough humidity doesn’t lead to irritation in the throat and nasal passage.

How does a CPAP machine work?

A CPAP machine comes with three major parts:

  • The motor: It sits at the user’s bedside and helps in delivering quiet pressurized air, which is taken off the room temperature. This pressurized air is delivered to the user’s airways through a CPAP hose that connects to a CPAP mask.


  • CPAP hose: Typically 6 feet long, the CPAP hose helps in connecting the machine to the mask hose connects the machine to your mask. A heated tube can be added to a therapy session to maintain warm air for better comfort.


  • CPAP mask: As per your sleep and breathing patterns, you can choose the right mask available in the market. A full-face mask is typically for people who breathe through their nose and mouth while sleeping at night. And, the basal pillows or nasal cushion mask is for people who breathe via their nose at night.

Here’s how the complete CPAP machine work:

The compressor of a CPAP machine makes a normal stream of compressed air. This air moves via an air channel within an adaptable tubing, which brings sanitized air into a mask around your mouth or nose.

When you are resting, the air streaming through the CPAP machine pushes against the blockages to open airway routes. So, your lungs get a proper oxygen supply without any disturbance. It means you won’t wake up during your night’s sleep due to continuous breathing.

Different types of CPAP masks

There are several types of CPAP masks available on the market. But what suits you often depends on your breathing habits and the type of obstruction you are dealing with.

Here are some common types of CPAP masks:

  • Nasal mask: It covers the entire nose area and is ideal for those who move a lot while sleeping.


  • Nasal pillow mask: It won’t cover the complete nose area but just your nostrils. Some of these masks may even fit snugly into the nostrils. It is suitable for people with lots of facial hair.


  • Full mask: As the name suggests, it covers your complete mouth and nose. It is suitable for people who breathe through their mouths while sleeping, as their airways get obstructed due to airway blockage.

Benefits of CPAP machine

Here are several benefits of CPAP machines:

  • It is great for treating sleep apnea by providing consistent oxygen flow to the user.
  • This machine decreases daytime sleepiness and helps the user to sleep properly at night.
  • CPAP even helps in improving overall sleep quality, as it doesn’t let you wake up frequently.
  • With proper sleep, there is also a lesser risk of high blood pressure.
  • It even helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems and strokes
  • It also helps in optimizing your sugar levels.

Types of CPAP machines

  • Bi-level PAP machine – It makes use of two distinct pressures. One pressure is for inhalation and the other is for exhalation.
  • Adaptive servo-ventilation – It is ideal for people with central sleep apnea. It helps in keeping airways open with compulsory breathing when needed.
  • Auto CPAP– It helps in keeping airways open with self-regulation of the pressure.

Care for the CPAP machine

Regular cleaning of CPAP machines is crucial to prevent mould and bacterial exposure. It is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper CPAP machine cleaning. For cleaning the accessories, like mask, tube, water chamber, headgear, etc., you can use an advanced ultraviolet sanitiser. This way your entire CPAP machine will stay clean and germ-free for longer use.