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Overview of CPAP therapy

Mō te whakarauoratanga whai hā

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

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're 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 need to wear a well-fitted mask joined to the machine by a tube when you're sleeping.

The machine is very quiet. Some people also use a humidifier to make the air less dry.

CPAP starts working straight away and also stops snoring.

It's important to use the machine every night. This includes taking it with you if you're sleeping away from home.

You may qualify for publicly funded CPAP therapy. If you do, you'll be offered a CPAP trial through Sleep Health Services at Christchurch Hospital. If you do not meet the criteria, you may wish to seek CPAP therapy through a private provider.

If you're on a benefit or low income, Work and Income 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. Last reviewed October 2022.


Page reference: 374409

Review key: HIOSA-12505