What is a CPAP Machine? How It Works, Pros & Cons


If you have sleep apnea, your doctor may tell you to use a special machine called a CPAP to help you breathe better while sleeping. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It’s the most common treatment for sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea makes you stop breathing for short times while you sleep. This happens because your throat or airways briefly get blocked or collapse.

A CPAP machine prevents this by sending a steady stream of air into your nose and mouth to keep your airways open all night.

Using a CPAP takes some getting used to, but it can make a big difference in how you feel and your health.

Let’s take a closer look at how CPAP machines work, the different types, the pros and cons, and other sleep apnea treatments to consider.


What is a CPAP Machine?

What is a CPAP Machine


How does a CPAP machine work?

A CPAP machine has a few main parts:

  • A small motor that creates a constant flow of pressurized air.
  • An air filter to clean the air.
  • A tube that carries the air from the motor.
  • A mask that goes over your nose and/or mouth.

While you sleep, the machine steadily pushes air through the tube and mask into your nose and mouth. This air gently holds your airways open so they don’t collapse or get blocked. That way, you keep breathing normally and don’t repeatedly wake up.

Are there different types of CPAP machines?

All CPAP machines have the same basic parts – a motor, filter, tube, and mask.

But there are a few different types:

  • Standard CPAP: Sends air at one steady pressure level all night. You can change the pressure setting if needed.
  • Auto CPAP (APAP): Automatically adjusts air pressure throughout the night based on your breathing and sleep position.
  • BiPAP: Has two pressure settings – higher pressure for breathing in and lower for breathing out. Used if standard CPAP is uncomfortable or for certain types of sleep apnea.

Different Mask Types

CPAP masks come in different shapes and sizes. The kind that’s best for you depends on how you breathe, how the mask fits and feels on your face and the type of sleep apnea you have.

Mask Type Description
Nasal pillow Small cushions that fit into your nostrils. Good if you wear glasses or have facial hair.
Nasal mask Covers your whole nose. Stays on better if you move a lot in your sleep.
Full face mask Covers your nose and mouth. Used for mouth breathing or nasal blockage.

What are the pros and cons of using a CPAP machine?

Benefits of CPAP:

  • Helps you sleep through the night without waking up.
  • Lowers the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart problems.
  • Improves daytime sleepiness.
  • May lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
  • Works better the longer you use it.

Drawbacks of CPAP:

  • Discomfort and trouble falling asleep, especially at first.
  • Feeling of claustrophobia or anxiety.
  • Stuffy nose, dry mouth, nosebleeds.
  • Skin irritation or sores from the mask.
  • Bloated feeling from the air pressure.

Are CPAP machines covered by insurance or Medicare?

Medicare Part B may cover 80% of the cost of a CPAP if you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea and your doctor is Medicare-approved. You pay your deductible and 20% of the rental or purchase price.

Medicare Advantage plans have different rules for covering CPAP machines. Check with your plan provider for details.

Without insurance, CPAP machines can cost $500 to $3,000 or more, depending on the type.

Other Options for Sleep Apnea:

CPAP isn’t the only way to treat sleep apnea. If using a CPAP is too uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about these other options:

  • Changing your sleep position (staying off your back).
  • Oral appliances that adjust your jaw and tongue.
  • Nerve stimulators implanted by surgery.
  • Lifestyle changes like losing weight.
  • Surgery to remove large tonsils or adenoids (usually for children).
  • Other surgeries for adults (less commonly done).

Also Check:

The Bottom Line:

CPAP machines are the go-to treatment for most people with sleep apnea. They work by sending a steady flow of air through a mask to keep your airways open while you sleep.

There are a few types of CPAP machines and masks. The best one for you depends on your sleep apnea, breathing habits, and comfort.

CPAP takes some getting used to, but can greatly improve sleep and overall health if used regularly.


Medicare and insurance often help pay for CPAP. If it doesn’t work well for you, there are other treatment options to discuss with your doctor.

The key is finding what helps you breathe freely and sleep soundly each night.

With the right treatment and some patience, sweet dreams are within reach!

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is a blogger and writer who expresses her ideas and thoughts through her writings. She loves to get engaged with the readers who are seeking for informative contents on various niches over the internet. She is a featured blogger at various high authority blogs and magazines in which she shared her research and experience with the vast online community.

You may also like...