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HealthInfo Canterbury

About CPAP therapy

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is the most commonly used treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Diagram showing how air moves through an open airway but is prevented from moving through an airway that is blocked.Normally when you go to sleep, your throat muscles hold your airway open. If you have OSA, your throat muscles relax too much when you are asleep. This causes pauses in your breathing. These breathing pauses can lead to disrupted sleep and reduced oxygen levels.

A CPAP machine blows air through your nose (or nose and mouth) into your throat. The airflow supports your throat muscles and keeps your airway open. This prevents the pauses in your breathing and helps you sleep better.

You may qualify for publicly funded CPAP therapy. If you do, you will be offered a CPAP trial through the Sleep Unit at Christchurch Hospital. If you don't meet the criteria, you may wish to seek CPAP therapy through a private provider.

If you are on a benefit or low income, Work and Income New Zealand may help you pay for CPAP therapy. Talk to your general practice team or sleep assessment provider for more details.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Sleep Unit, Canterbury DHB. Updated May 2016.

Page reference: 374409

Review key: HIOSA-12505