Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Your healthcare provider has prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for you. A CPAP device helps you breathe better at night. The device sends air through your nose or mouth when you breathe in to keep your air passages open. CPAP is:

  • Used most often to treat sleep apnea and some other problems. (Sleep apnea is a chronic condition with periods of sleep in which you briefly stop breathing.)

  • Safe and very effective. But it takes time to get used to the mask.

Your healthcare provider, nurse, or medical supplier will give you tips for wearing and caring for your CPAP device.

General guidelines

Recommendations include the following:

  • It's very important not to give up! It takes time to get used to wearing the mask at night.

  • Practice using your CPAP device during the day, especially whenever you take a nap.

  • Remember, there are several different types of masks. If you can’t get used to your mask, ask your provider or medical supply company about trying another style.

  • If you have nasal stuffiness or dryness when using your CPAP device, talk with your provider or medical supply company. There are ways to ease these problems. For example, your provider may recommend using a moistening nasal spray. Or the medical supply company may recommend a device with a humidifier.

  • The goal is to use your CPAP all night, every night, during all naps, and even when you travel.

  • Keep your mask clean. Wash it with soap and water. Be sure to rinse the mask and tubing well with water to remove any soap. Let them air-dry completely before using.

  • Make yourself comfortable when sleeping with CPAP. Try using extra pillows.

Work with your medical supply company so that you know how to correctly use your CPAP. The company's representative will be able to help you:

  • Use the CPAP correctly

  • Troubleshoot any problems that come up

  • Learn to clean and maintain the device

  • Adjust to regular use of the CPAP


The CPAP device settings are given as centimeters of water, or cm/H2O. Each person’s pressure settings are different. Your healthcare provider will tell you what settings to use. Never change your CPAP pressure setting unless your provider tells you to.

CPAP ____________cm/H20 pressure when you breathe in