The CPAP machine

The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine consists of a pump that sucks air from the room through a filter and blows it out at a pre-determined pressure. The pressure varies according to the individual’s needs and will be prescribed specifically for you by your consultant.

Some people find it harder to get to sleep when the CPAP machine is blowing pressurised air. For this reason, some machines have the option to build up pressure over a period of time while you sleep.

What to expect when using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) at home

Position your CPAP machine and tubing to suit your preferred sleeping position. Some people prefer to bring the tubing over the top of the headboard whilst others run it over their shoulder. You can select whichever is the more comfortable for you.

When using your nasal CPAP mask for the first time you will notice an unusual sense of pressure when breathing. It is normal to feel some resistance to breathing out as you are breathing out against the incoming airflow.

It is better to keep your mouth closed when wearing the CPAP mask. If you open your mouth, air will leak out and this may feel uncomfortable and restrictive.

If you wake in the night and feel uncomfortable with the pressure of the airflow, switch off the machine and remove the facemask for a few minutes. When you replace the mask make sure it is comfortable before restarting the CPAP machine and breathe slowly with your mouth closed.

Common nasal problems

Occasionally, the CPAP treatment can irritate the nasal lining, which results in sneezing and a runny nose, similar to hayfever. This may settle down on its own, but if it does not then it would be wise to consult your GP or respiratory specialist.

Some people may experience a continuing dryness of the nose and throat in which case it may be helpful to use a humidification circuit with the CPAP machine.

If your nose becomes blocked during the night, then it will be difficult to use the CPAP system. If you have a cold, consult your GP or respiratory specialist if the problem persists and they will decide whether treatment should be temporarily stopped.


Ensure that you clean and wash your masks and tubing in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

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