Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is treatment provided by
a machine worn at night or during times of sleep to treat sleep apnea, a sleep
disorder in which a person regularly stops breathing during sleep for 10
seconds or longer. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in the throat, keeping
tissues in the airway from collapsing when a person inhales.
The CPAP machine delivers air through a mask that covers the nose
and mouth, through a mask that covers only the nose (nasal continuous positive
airway pressure, NCPAP), or through prongs that fit inside the nose. The mask
that covers only the nose is used most frequently.
CPAP is the most widely used treatment for sleep apnea caused by
blocked airflow in the throat (obstructive sleep apnea).
Current as of:
August 21, 2015
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.