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Understanding the Basics of CPAP Sleep Therapy

August 20, 2020 3 min read

The most popular treatment option for Sleep Apnea is PAP (Positive Airway Pressure) Therapy which generally comes in the form of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Before you begin treatment, it is a good idea to become familiar with your device and how it works. The information below is designed to help you learn more about sleep therapy basics. Specifics about your setup should be available in the manuals that came with your mask or machine; and many manuals and other resources are available elsewhere on this site.


THE DEVICE
The primary component of any CPAP or BiLevel solution is the sleep therapy device or machine. The machine delivers a steady, gentle flow of air throughout the night to provide you with Postive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy. Historically PAP therapy devices were large, cumbersome, medical machines that could be disconcerting and loud to live with. In recent years though manufacturer's have revolutionized PAP therapy with smaller, quieter, less medical looking machines. Modern comfort and lifestyle features like heated humidifiers, battery packs, DC power options, heated tubing, pressure relief, clocks and even built in music players have made PAP machines much easier to live with at home and on the road.


THE TUBING
A long tube -- usually 2 meters in length -- carries air from your PAP device to a mask that delivers the air to you. Most PAP machines use Standard 22MM Tubing that has universal connectors so any tubing will work with any mask and device. In recent years manufacturer's have begun to add heated and slim 15MM tubing options to their devices. Heated and slim 15MM tubing generally has a universal connector at the mask end and a proprietary, brand specific, connection at the device end. PAP Therapy tubing is semi-disposable. You should clean and inspect your tubing at least once a week to make sure it is clean, pliable, and free of tears. If the tubing begins to look worn it should be replaced to ensure proper therapy is being received.

Many PAP Therapy users add soft flee wraps, tubing clips, and other accessories to their tubing to create a more personal, comfortable and welcoming sleep therapy experience. Click here to learn more about the latest CPAP Tubing and Comfort Accessories.


THE MASK
Masks are used to deliver the air from the therapy device to you. A comfortable mask is a key factor in being able to use your treatment daily. Therefore, finding a mask that fits your and your lifestyle is important. Most masks have built-in exhalation ports that vent your exhaled air. There are six primary types of PAP masks -- Nasal Cushion, Nasal Pillow/Prong, Full Face, Total Face, Oral, and Hybrid -- with many designs from different manufacturers for each type. Most people describe these masks as "CPAP Masks" however they are all universally compatible with both CPAP and BiLevel Machines.

As with any personal product your own wants and needs will dictate which mask style and design works best for you. Once you have found your "perfect mask," it is important to maintain it properly. Consult your mask manual for proper maintenance and cleaning instructions. Inspect your mask often for wear and tear. If you think it is ready for replacement, contact your homecare provider. If replacement is needed, most health plans provide coverage for a new mask every three to six months.