Healthy Living

Sleep Apnea Machines: What's a CPAP?

Sleep Apnea Machines: What's a CPAP?

Sleep Apnea, a sleeping disorder that causes breathing interruption during sleep, has some serious effects if left untreated. The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy which aids patients in breathing when asleep.

How does CPAP treat sleep apnea?

CPAP uses a machine whose main function is to help a patient breathe more easily during sleep. To do this, the CPAP machine provides more air pressure in a patient’s throat so that breathing airways would be open.

What’s a CPAP machine?

A CPAP machine consists of a mask or other device covering a patient’s nose, mouth or both, some straps holding the mask in place or headgear, a tube connecting the mask to the motor, and a motor blowing air into the tube.

Common types Of CPAPs

Before settling for a permanent CPAP mask, it’s recommended to try out first what’s the best type for you.

1. CPAP nasal masks

This mask covers the nose only. It is usually a rounded, triangular dome in shape that fits the contour of the face. It’s a popular choice which comes in a variety of sizes to choose from. Patients who used nasal masks feel like they’re breathing in the natural air because the pressure is provided less directly. Because of indirect pressure, a higher pressure setting is best used in nasal masks.

This is recommended for:

  • People who prefer side sleeping
  • People who tend to toss and turn during sleep
  • People who breathe mostly through their nose

This might be uncomfortable for:

  • People with nasal or sinus problems, may it be allergy or cold-related
  • People who mostly breathe through their mouths

2. CPAP nasal pillow

Nasal pillows consist of two small cushions that are inserted directly into the nostril rather than over the nose. The overall design and profile are minimal with lesser facial interference and obstructive headgear. Air leakage is less likely to occur since the pressure is directed into the nasal passage. However, patients who require higher air pressure settings may not do well in using nasal pillows since direct airflow enters the nostrils.

This is recommended for:

  • People who breathe mostly through their nose
  • People who tend to toss and turn during sleep
  • People who prefer openness and feeling of freedom
  • People who prefer less visual obstruction for eyeglass wearers and those who often read and watch tv before sleeping
  • People with lots of facial hair having trouble with sealing of masks

This might be uncomfortable for:

  • People with sensitive nasal passages or tender nostrils
  • People who mostly breathe through their mouths

3. CPAP full face mask

This mask covers the area of the nose and mouth area, from the top of the nose bridge and underneath the lower lip. Full face masks occupy a larger space than the previous types, including pieces attached to the forehead and cheeks to keep the mask in place. Patients that require high air pressure settings may find full face masks more comfortable due to the larger scope of the mask. 

This is recommended for:

  • People who mostly breathe through their mouths
  • People who suffer from dry mouth since oral and nasal passages are kept moist
  • People who sleep on their back
  • People who find other CPAP masks as claustrophobic may find full face masks more comfortable since it allows oral breathing as well.

This might be uncomfortable for:

  • People who sleep on their stomach (Leaks are more likely to occur!)
  • People with facial hair such as a beard, mustache, and sideburns that come in contact with the mask since good sealing is difficult to achieve
  • People who like to watch tv, read, or wear eyeglass in bed since there are view obstructions

CPAP equipped with the latest technologies

Innovations and improvements are developed yearly for CPAP machines. More design improvisations on masks are made to suit the patient's comfort and productivity of the treatment. TheCPAP gelprovides more comfort on materials touching the skin. Portable and small CPAP machines are even widely available, perfect as a travel CPAP. Machines are now equipped with the latest technology such as the ResMed S10 Autoset, which adjusts the pressure settings automatically through detection of the airways' closure. One of the new features is its heated airline tubing for those who are sensitive to dryness, which promotes humidity throughout the hose.

Taking care of CPAP machines

Daily cleaning and maintenance of the CPAP machine is recommended to prevent bacteria and infection. You wouldn’t like having bacteria living on something you put on and breathe with every night. Plus, keeping equipment clean helps in having an effective therapy and long-term health. The process also takes only a few minutes. There are some CPAP cleaner machines available that can be purchased. They consist of a device that provides activated oxygen to further sanitize your Sleep Apnea supplies.  Although some only consider these as additional expenses, you can still clean a CPAP machine with simple household supplies.

What you need: Soft cloth, dish soap preferably mild antibacterial, towel, and basin

  • Unplug the CPAP cleaning machine to the power source.
  • Disconnect the tube from the mask and the humidifier. Detach headgear and straps from the mask as well.
  • Dip a soft cloth in warm water. Gently wipe the CPAP machine’s external surfaces.
  • Fill your sink or a basin with warm water. Add a small amount of dish soap. You can optionally add vinegar diluted to a 1:1 ratio with the water.
  • Immerse the mask, tube, headgear, and other connectors to the solution. Allow it to soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse with water and allow to air dry on the towel.
  • Alternatively, you can wipe the mask with the soft cloth dipped in warm water. Swish soapy water through the tubing. Rinse and allow to air dry.
  • If you have a humidifier, the water chamber should be cleaned with hot distilled water only and mild soap to prevent infection.
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions if your CPAP machine has filters placed to determine whether to replace or rinse only.
  • After everything has dried, assemble all of the parts. Listen and check for air leaks by turning on the machine for a short time.

Tips in cleaning the CPAP machine

  • If you have been sick, it is recommended to clean the equipment daily to prevent prolonging the days of feeling under the weather.
  • The humidifier water chamber must be emptied daily during the day. Refill it before bedtime.
  • CPAP machine cleaner or sanitizer is expensive, and it adds little additional safety and cleanliness to the equipment as compared to cleaning the machine daily with mild dish soap.

CPAP machine price

These machines are great and all, but will it take a lot of money to have one?

Depending on the model and its features, a typical CPAP machines cost $800-$3,000 without insurance. Average pricing is $850. The initial cost includes purchase or rental of the machine, the heated tube, mask, humidifier, and filters. Insurance companies often cover the cost of CPAP machines.


CPAP machines brought more ease and comfort for people with sleep apnea. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the long-term health benefits of this therapy are worthy of the trouble. One must consult with the specialist to recommend the right type of CPAP machine for you. Learn also to use the machine in the right way to ensure its efficiency.