What is CPAP? How It Works, Who It’s For, Benefits, and More

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✅ This article has been medically reviewed by: Dr. Amita Fotedar, Ph.D., Dr. Kate Sołdaj, M.D. and Dr. Bartłomiej Orybkiewicz, M.D.

If you’ve been researching sleep and sleep quality, chances are you’ve come across mention of something called a CPAP. Or, perhaps you were recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, and are looking to learn more about your newly prescribed medical device. In this article, we’ll provide a brief overview of CPAP technology, CPAP benefits, and more.

What is CPAP?

CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure”. CPAP might refer to the actual CPAP technology, or to a CPAP machine itself.

Essentially, CPAP machines help patients with sleep apnea sleep better at night by helping keep their breathing steady and consistent. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea will stop breathing many times during the night, which disrupts sleep patterns. A CPAP helps prevent this by increasing the level of air pressure in the throat, preventing the airway from collapsing. This helps to keep the patient in a deeper, more restful sleep.

What is a CPAP Machine?

What is a CPAP Machine

A CPAP machine generally consists of 4 to 5 components: the machine itself, which draws in air and pressurizes it, the water chamber which serves as a humidifier for the device, the tube, and the mask which the patient will wear to bed every night. There is also a power cord with a large power block.

There are many different models of CPAP machines, each of which is configured slightly differently. On some models, the humidifier is built in – on most, like the one pictured above, the humidifier is a separate component. All machines include some sort of filter to keep the air you breath clean. Some machines will have additional components, and there are a wide variety of mask types you can choose from. All models will offer more or less the same CPAP benefits.

What Are the CPAP Benefits?

Patients with sleep apnea who are given CPAP therapy experience many benefits, including:

  • Better sleep quality
  • Reduced snoring
  • Reduced daytime sleepiness/fatigue
  • Improved focus
  • Better moods
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of serious medical conditions

Who Uses CPAP Machines?

If you are searching for phrases like “what is CPAP”, chances are you’re looking to see if a CPAP would be right for you. Here at SleepZoo, our goal is to help our readers get better sleep. To help achieve that goal, we offer helpful sleep tips, the latest sleep science news, product reviews, and more.

With that said, CPAP machines are a little different. These are not devices that just anyone can buy to help improve their sleep. A CPAP is a prescription medical device, available only to those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or a similar sleep disorder.

To get a CPAP machine, you will need to visit a medical professional (usually a sleep or respiratory specialist), participate in a sleep study, and receive a prescription. You can then buy a CPAP unit from the doctor directly in some cases, or through various local and online medical device suppliers.

How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects over 20 million Americans, and hundreds of millions worldwide. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Breathing cessation
  • Abrupt awakenings
  • Morning headaches
  • Attention issues
  • Irritability

If you have one or more of the above sleep apnea symptoms, it’s possible that you could be suffering from sleep apnea. The disorder most commonly affects men over 40, and is particularly common in people who are overweight – but it can affect just about anyone, even children.

If you have some symptoms, it’s worth it to speak to your doctor. It’s not possible to self-diagnose sleep apnea, and even your regular family doctor will likely refer you to a specialist. But if you have one of the risk factors or symptoms, it’s very important that you seek guidance from a qualified medical professional.

Where Can I Learn More?

Now you have the answer to the simple question of what is CPAP technology, but there’s a whole lot more to learn if you’re going to use one of these devices yourself. The first step is to speak with your doctor and determine whether or not you actually have sleep apnea. If you’ve already been diagnosed, we offer many articles on the subject of sleep apnea, CPAP machine reviews, news, and more. You can also check out external resources, such as SleepApnea.org.

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