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CPAP is an abbreviation for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (pronounced ‘seepap’). CPAP involves wearing a mask that is connected by tubing to an electrically driven pump or flow generator which is contained within a small quiet box on the bedside table. The machine delivers air continuously at a slightly increased pressure and this flow of air acts like an “air splint” to keep the upper airway open and prevent apnoeas.
Once a decision has been made to use CPAP, you will be offered an appointment to see a nurse or technician.
When you come for your CPAP treatment you will first be shown the CPAP system and the staff will select a suitable mask device. Many people use a nasal mask (hence the term nasal-CPAP) but some need to have a mask covering the mouth and nose (full face mask). This is held securely in place by some straps around the head. The type of machine that we sell automatically works out how much pressure is required to keep your airway open and adjusts the pressure depending on whether there is partial or complete obstruction of the breathing passage. The first session will usually take about 1 hour, and afterwards you will take this machine home to use each night. The nurse or technician can contact you by phone within a few days to make sure you are doing well and will offer to review you in clinic after 4 weeks.
When you go home you should start using the machine each night. It may take a few weeks to get fully adjusted, and you may find on occasions that you take the mask off during sleep. You should notice an immediate improvement in how you feel although some people complain of quite bad dreams in the first few nights which is due to the brain catching up on the previously missed dream sleep. If you do not use the machine regularly you will return to your previous level of snoring, sleep apnoea and daytime tiredness within a few nights.
© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)