CPAP Treatment

Doctor providing patient with CPAP therapy

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is the most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While there are other treatment options for OSA, CPAP is the one treatment that can offer immediate relief for most people with this sleep disorder.

You may start to see results as soon as you begin your CPAP treatment. CPAP therapy clears obstructions and causes most snoring to stop. As a result, you will feel an improvement in the quality of your sleep, from less daytime drowsiness to higher alertness during the day.

Over time, CPAP therapy may also lower blood pressure and also prevent or reverse serious health conditions such as heart disease. The air that CPAP machines deliver is generally ‘regular air’ and not concentrated oxygen. As such, CPAP is generally a safe medical treatment.

How Does CPAP Work?

CPAP therapy works by pushing air into the back of the throat where throat tissues collapse during sleep. This collapse in the throat is the main cause of sleep apnea and snoring. CPAP treatment acts by ‘splinting’ the airway open, allowing for inhaling and exhaling of air. 

Learn more about CPAP machines here.

Frequently Asked Questions About CPAP Treatment

How do you get CPAP treatment?

You can get CPAP machines from many Durable Medical Equipment (DME) companies. Some DME providers specialize in sleep disordered breathing. You can search online for a reputable DME that specializes in sleep apnea, although it’s always best to consult with your doctor about your sleep apnea and CPAP therapy needs. 

How much does CPAP cost?

The average price for CPAP machines ranges from about $500 – $3000, with an estimated average price around $850. Many insurance companies cover the cost of PAP and BiPAP bilevel devices. This usually includes CPAP parts and supplies, such as the mask, hose, filters, and tubing.

How is CPAP pressure titrated?

The CPAP pressure is measured in cm/H2O, or centimeters of water pressure. The ideal pressure is usually determined by a technologist or by a computerized PAP machine. In the sleep center, the pressure is manually increased by a sleep technologist who monitors the patient’s sleep breathing. If there are hypopneas, apneas, or snoring, the pressure is increased.

There are some auto-titrating CPAP machines (APAP) that use a computerized algorithm and pressure transducer sensors to eliminate obstructive events while at home.

Man sleeping in bed with partner while undergoing CPAP therapy

Is CPAP treatment dangerous?

Generally, CPAP therapy is very safe. There are few medical treatments that are safer than room air. It is, however, very important to clean your CPAP machine and parts regularly to avoid the buildup of any germs. You can easily do this with a CPAP cleaner.

Although CPAP treatment is safe, a doctor’s prescription is often required in order to obtain a CPAP machine. You may also experience some minor side effects of using your CPAP machine. If this is the case, consult with your doctor to make the adjustments to your machine.

What are the side effects of using CPAP machines?

There are very few side effects of using CPAP machines. The most common issues with CPAP therapy relate to the contact points where the mask from the CPAP machine touches the face. Occasionally, the skin will become irritated as a result of the constant contact and pressure of the mask. This can be alleviated by mask adjustment and/or mask replacement. Speak to your doctor to find the best sleep apnea mask for you, or to get your current mask adjusted. 

Another common side effect and complaint of CPAP treatment is dryness of the mucosal membranes of the nose, mouth, and throat. The continuous flow of air can dry out the airway. This problem can often be solved by using a heated humidifier with your CPAP machine. The humidifier adds moisture to the air, which can alleviate any dryness. 

Learn more about side effects of using CPAP machines here.

Where can I buy CPAP equipment?

Since a CPAP machine provides medical therapy, a prescription is needed for purchase.  To buy a machine in person, find a local durable medical equipment store.  Masks and equipment can now be purchased safely and securely online,

Getting Started With CPAP Treatment

For those that use CPAP treatment, the effect is often dramatic. CPAP therapy usually eliminates the majority of obstructive breathing events and prevents snoring. For CPAP treatment to work properly, you must work with your doctor to find the right CPAP machine, mask, and parts for you, and stay consistent with its use. 

When you’re ready to start your CPAP treatment, take a look at our CPAP User Guide here.

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23 thoughts on “CPAP Treatment

  1. Nelson Salazar Reply

    I see a lot of questions but no answers, is it that you replied to the individual directly?

  2. Kevin Sherrod Reply

    Hello please call me my cell phone is 405-416-8523 thank you honey

  3. Melanie Wilkins Reply

    I have a. Question….I have been having and awful time with condensation in my hose and mask at night causing “rainout”. So, I quit using my humidifier with it…is that a problem? Is it okay not to use your humidifier?

  4. Nathan Zimmerman Reply

    I am interested in a compact small travel CPAP machine. Do you have any contacts or suggestions ?

  5. Alex Reply

    My CPAP has helped me rest better for over a decade. At first, my BCBSNC paid for my test, machine, and supplies.

    A few years later I moved and went to a new place and they tell me “Your insurance says you are eligible for a new machine.” I was excited to get a new smaller machine. Then a bill comes each month and they tell me that I’m renting the new machine. I return it and stop going to that store.

    A few more years later I switch to Humana because of moving out of state and finding a new plan on the Marketplace. I couldn’t find supplies easy and was told I needed a prescription. I was never given one. I was asked to do a new sleep study that my insurance covered so little that I paid thousands for it. Then I was able to get supplies. They gave me a new machine but a month later a bill came. Back to the 10-year-old CPAP.

    Premium on insurance got higher so I switched to Kaiser Permanente. Doctor tells me they do CPAP through Apria. I call Apria because the strap on my mask was broken and they ask me for a prescription. My new Primary Care Physician didn’t have it of course. Long story short I eventually got supplies. Most of the time my EOB would say insurance covers 100%. Then out of nowhere I owe $200 for a mask and tubing in March but not for June.

    I look up information but can’t find any in the marketplace but upgrade from silver to gold plan. The Silver Plan paid 100% for my mask in November. The Gold Plan tells me I need to pay $200 for a mask and tubing in March. It’s almost like a roll of the device. Meanwhile, I’m paying nearly $560 a month premium with a $3000 deductible that they say I must reach before I can pay a copay of 35% to get my supplies. What?! Oh and a couple of years back a big thunderstorm made it so that machine stopped turning on. Luckily my mom hated using her CPAP and gave it to me. I don’t qualify for a new CPAP.

    I’m just super frustrated and looking for an answer and stopped here to give my story. I wish I knew how to sleep without the CPAP but I’m conditioned to it now. Or if I could find out what insurance actually will cover what I need come January.

  6. Chris Reply

    Im looking for information and details how to properly dispose of or donate 2 cpap machine.

  7. Bobby harris Reply

    My name is bobby I use dreamstation cpap machine it has helped me alot but now I have trouble with mask and hose it needs to be cleaned I wash with mild soap and warm water it still cause me sore throat nose been sick to much already and cannot afford to get a cleaning machine like for example soclean 2 or anything I cannot afford its getting harder for me to overcome this problem I need a cleaning machine more effective for me how do I do this who can help me with it thank you

  8. Brenda Reply

    I have a cpap that I can donate. Please let me know if you can accept it .


  9. LG Reply

    Looking to donate or recycle 2 Cpap machines, can. you please give me more info

    • Anonymous Reply

      You have claustrophobia , because you’ve been suffocating to death in your sleep for some time. Of course your claustrophobic !!! You should be claustrophobic until you put the mask on. No one explains that to patients. Claustrophobia is a very common complaint. And no one should be giving out nasal mask. They don’t work. They are a product of crappy DME’s giving out cheap equipment.

    • Reginald Guy Reply

      I’m in need of a cpap machine and don’t have insurance or extra money to purchase

  10. W. Millsaps Reply

    We have seen online that ASA can recycle Cpap machines. Please provide details.

  11. Angie Lester Reply

    My insurance only covers supplies once a year and I still have seven months to go before I can get new supplies. My mask ripped 2 weeks after I got it. My supplier gave me another and that one ripped even worse and in two different spots. They say it’s me. I say it’s the masks as I’ve been using cpap for 10 years. I know how to use them. I cannot afford a new mask. Where can I find a place who could possibly donate one?

  12. Phillip Sharkan Reply

    Im looking for information and details how to properly dispose of or donate an older cpap machine.

  13. Daisy Bosque Reply

    Good morning. My mother needs a CPAP machine. She’s not breathing well a night the doctor said she is getting closer to death Everytime she sleeps and the insurance company is taking very long to approve the machine. What should we do.

    • Rita Moodley Reply

      Hi I desperately need a cap machine but I can’t afford to buy one because I live on a disability grant that only 1:700 a month it very difficult to live on that money .therefore I can’t afford to buy a cpap looking for someone to donate me

  14. Kirti Patel Reply

    Q: How to obtain a c-pap machine with a humidifier? Do you accept medicare and medicaid? How to do the test?

  15. ASA Editor, M.D. Post authorReply

    CPAP has been around for almost 4 decades. They started off as large box-shaped machines and have evolved into small portable devices.

  16. Gere Reply

    How long has CPAP been around for? A few years, decades? What is better cpap or other sleep apnea treatements

    • Michele Reply

      I have a friend who needs a machine and her insurance will not cover the cost. And she by far cannot afford a machine. Yes she works but barely makes enough to cover her monthly Bill’s and food. Her job won’t allow her to work until she gets a machine. So she needs one more than ever now. Is there anyway that she can be eligible to get help with the cost? If so how to you go about getting the help?

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