CPAP | Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

The CPAP is a leading therapy for sleep apnea. At MaineHealth, sleep doctors and specialists provide the sleep apnea treatment that you need for a full night’s sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) helps people with breathing problems during sleep. CPAP machines use air flow to keep the airway open during sleep.

What is a CPAP?

People wear a clear mask over their face or nose. The mask is hooked up to a pump with a hose. Straps keep the mask in place as people sleep. A motor blows air into the hose. The CPAP machine makes a quiet hum as people sleep. CPAP often is the best treatment for sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, breathing can stop, or breathing can be shallow. Patients usually have a sleep study done first to diagnose sleep apnea.

Using the CPAP

Your provider or a technician can work with you to make sure the mask fits. Your doctor may prescribe or recommend a nasal spray that can be used at bedtime. The nasal spray can relieve stuffiness and a runny nose. Using a humidifier while you sleep also can help.

CPAP side effects

Talk with your doctor if you have trouble getting used to a CPAP after a few days. Some patients may have trouble falling asleep at first. Other problems that can occur include:

  • Dreaming a lot at first
  • Dry nose and sore throat
  • Runny nose, stuffed-up nose
  • Sneezing
  • Leaking mask (if it does not fit right)
  • Bloated stomach
  • Eye irritation and skin irritation (around the mask)

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