How Does Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy Work for Sleep Apnea?

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Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and decreased oxygen levels in the body. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for sleep apnea that involves using a machine to deliver pressurized air into the lungs, keeping the airway open and reducing the number of apnea events during sleep. In this article, we will explore how CPAP therapy works for sleep apnea, its benefits, and potential side effects.

What is CPAP Therapy?

CPAP therapy is a treatment for sleep apnea that involves using a machine to deliver pressurized air through a mask that covers the nose and/or mouth. The air pressure acts as a splint, keeping the airway open during sleep and preventing apnea events. CPAP machines have different settings for air pressure, which can be adjusted based on individual needs and preferences.

How Does CPAP Therapy Work?

CPAP therapy works by delivering pressurized air into the lungs, which keeps the airway open and prevents apnea events. The air pressure is delivered through a mask that covers the nose and/or mouth, which creates a seal to prevent air leaks. The pressure can be adjusted to a comfortable level for the individual, and the machine can be set to ramp up gradually as the person falls asleep.

Benefits of CPAP Therapy

CPAP therapy has many benefits for people with sleep apnea, including:

  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced daytime sleepiness
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduced risk of accidents caused by drowsiness
  • Improved mood and quality of life

Potential Side Effects of CPAP Therapy

While CPAP therapy is generally safe and effective, some people may experience side effects, including:

  • Nasal congestion or dryness
  • Skin irritation or pressure sores from the mask
  • Claustrophobia or discomfort from wearing the mask
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Air leaks or noise from the machine

Who Can Benefit from CPAP Therapy?

CPAP therapy is recommended for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea, as well as those with mild sleep apnea who experience symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and gasping or choking during sleep. CPAP therapy is also recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or obesity, which can increase the risk of sleep apnea.

How to Get Started with CPAP Therapy

To start CPAP therapy, a sleep specialist will typically perform a sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea and determine the appropriate pressure settings for the machine. The sleep specialist will then prescribe a CPAP machine and mask, which can be obtained through a durable medical equipment (DME) supplier. It is important to follow the sleep specialist’s instructions for using the machine and mask, as well as to attend follow-up appointments to monitor the effectiveness of the therapy.

Tips for Successful CPAP Therapy

To ensure successful CPAP therapy, it is important to:

  • Use the machine and mask consistently every night
  • Keep the machine and mask clean and well-maintained
  • Adjust the pressure settings as needed with the guidance of a sleep specialist
  • Practice good sleep hygiene, such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed
  • Address any side effects or discomfort with the sleep specialist


CPAP therapy is a safe and effective treatment for sleep apnea that can improve sleep quality, reduce daytime sleepiness, and lower the risk of health complications. While some people may experience side effects or discomfort from using the machine and mask, there are many strategies for maximizing comfort and adherence to the therapy. It is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the right CPAP machine and mask that fits properly and is comfortable to wear. There are also various accessories and adjustments that can be made to improve comfort, such as heated humidifiers to prevent dry mouth and nose, or using different mask types or sizes. By addressing any concerns or discomfort early on, patients can increase their chances of success with CPAP therapy and enjoy the many benefits it offers.

If you are struggling with sleep apnea, seeking treatment is important to improve your quality of life and overall health. At Viva Dental Wellness in Edmonton, we offer specialized care for sleep apnea, including CPAP therapy. Our team of dental professionals can work with you to find the right CPAP machine and mask for your needs, and provide ongoing support to ensure your comfort and success with the therapy. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a better night’s sleep and improved well-being.

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