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How Does CPAP Work?

The pressure from CPAP/APAP is applied continuously during the night while you sleep. It has been likened to blowing up a bicycle tyre that has become deflated. When the correct pressure is applied via a small mask, the airway is sufficiently opened to allow regular unobstructed breathing, controlling apnoea events and snoring. The body’s oxygen levels remain stable and sleep is no longer disrupted. A CPAP/APAP machine only opens your airway and does not breathe for you or supply oxygen.

These machines were once loud and noisy, now with greater advancement in research they are now small and quiet with many comfort features integrated into the machines.

CPAP/APAP does not cure Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Therefore it must be used every night while you are sleeping, if you stop using CPAP/APAP your symptoms will return and you will start snoring and having apnoeas again.

What Is The Difference Between CPAP and APAP?

CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) is a small machine with a pump to generate a continuous positive air pressure to hold the airway open during sleep. CPAP is set to deliver one constant pressure.

APAP (Automatic Positive Air Pressure) machines are set to deliver varying pressures while you sleep and can self-adjust when apnoea events occur. For example, more pressure is needed when you are lying on your back, in REM sleep or there is an increase or decrease in your weight. Patients generally find the breath-by-breath adjustments maximize their comfort and improve compliance.


Humidifiers can make a huge difference to the comfort of your therapy. All PAP machines today can have small humidifiers attached to them. A humidifier will warm and moisten the air you breathe, while assisting to keep your mouth closed. PAP therapy can cause a dry nose or throat during the night and by using a humidifier these symptoms are relieved.


airfit p10Choosing a well-fitting mask is paramount to the success of your PAP therapy. You need to feel comfortable, so a properly fitted mask that conforms to your face is important. Your mask should form a firm seal on your face in order to avoid mask leak (when air escapes from your mask). Any air leak can compromise the effectiveness of your therapy, so our sleep technologists are experienced in mask fitting and assisting patients adapt to their PAP treatment.

airfit f10To best meet your personal requirements, we have three categories of mask for you to choose from – nasal pillows, nasal masks and full face masks. Nasal pillows form their seal by resting at the edge of your nostrils. Nasal masks cover your entire nose only, and full face masks cover both your nose and your mouth. Full face masks are primarily suited to those people who breathe through both their nose and mouth during sleep, due to constant congestion or physical blockage in their nasal passages.

Caring for Your Equipment

To ensure your device works at optimum levels, we suggest you do a monthly air filter check. This will reveal any dust build-up or holes in your filter and helps maintain the air pressure you receive during sleep. Blocked air filters can result in a reduction in the pressure of the air being delivered to you and can therefore reduce the effectiveness of therapy. On average, air filters should be changed every three to four months.

Your mask also requires care. Over time, the oils in your skin can affect the quality and performance of the seal your mask forms on your face and may irritate your skin. To counter this, we suggest you wash your face mask every morning with warm water and mild detergent, to remove the facial oils that may build up around the seal during the night. It’s also a good idea to avoid using moisturisers on the areas of your face that will come into contact with the mask right before you go to bed..
We also suggest you clean out the water tub of your humidifier at least once a week. This is a simple process and can be done with warm water and a mild detergent. Ensure you rinse it thoroughly and don’t leave it to dry in direct sunlight. To ensure your humidifier tub remains clean and free from calcium and lime-scale build up, we recommend you used Distilled water rather than tap, tank or filtered water in your tub.

When you check your air filter each month, it is wise also to inspect your water tub. If any section of it has deteriorated, cracked or become pitted or cloudy, it’s time to replace it.

Here, we’ve summarised how to care for your equipment but we do recommend that you refer to your product user guide for a more detailed explanation of cleaning and caring for your device.

For more information on CPAP treatment click on the link below:

Sleep Health Foundation – What is CPAP PDF

Sleep Health Foundation – CPAP – Making It Work For You PDF

Our Locations

Intalink Therapy Solutions 5 Macquarie Street, Taree, NSW 2430

Macintosh Medical 97-99 MacIntosh St, Forster NSW 2428

Gloucester Medical center 77-81 Denison Street, Gloucester, NSW 2422

Get In Touch

Phone: 02 6551 0771
Mobile: 0455 583 399 
Fax: 02 6551 0700