Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is one option for the treatment of apnea, a condition in which breathing stops for ten seconds or longer during sleep because the airway becomes collapsed. CPAP can help patients with sleep apnea breathe normally and get restful sleep.

If you have apnea and are treated with CPAP, you'll be fitted with a mask to wear over your nose while sleeping, which sends air through your nose and mouth to keep your air passages open.

The specialists at Northwestern Medicine can help you learn to use CPAP successfully by following these general guidelines:

  • If you can’t get used to wearing your mask, ask about trying another style. There are several different types of masks.
  • Make yourself comfortable when sleeping with CPAP. Use extra pillows, if needed.
  • If you have nasal stuffiness or dryness when using your CPAP device, talk with us. We may, for example, recommend using a moistening nasal spray or a device with a humidifier.
  • 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.
  • The goal is to use your CPAP all night, every night, during all naps, and even when you travel.