What is CPAP Therapy?

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is the most commonly prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because it is highly effective. CPAP eliminates apnea and snoring.

How does CPAP work?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is a device, kept by your bedside, that delivers a flow of pressurized air to keep your airway open. The pressure is delivered through a 2 m tube to a mask which fits over your nose, nostrils or mouth. The purpose of the pressure is to act as a splint to keep your throat open. In Canada and Quebec, due to the climate, we include a heated humidifier to add moisture to the air before you breathe.

Schéma d'une voie aérienne bloquée

Blocked airway

Schéma d'une voie respiratoire ouverte avec l'utilisation d'un appareil de thérapie CPAP

Airway ‘splinted’ open

Types of CPAP

There are various types of CPAP machines. Depending on your doctor’s prescription and your individual needs, you will require either one of three of the following devices:

APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) delivers a pressure that continually adjusts breath by breath to give you the lowest pressure needed to keep the airway open and prevent obstructed breathing. It is commonly known as Auto CPAP.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) delivers a constant pressure and this pressure is determined by the sleep doctor. This is the minimum pressure necessary to eliminate obstructive breathing. It is often called “fixed” CPAP because the device is set to one constant pressure.

Bilevel CPAP devices deliver two set pressures: one for when you breathe in (inspiratory pressure) and a second pressure for when you breathe out (expiratory pressure). This type of treatment is used for people who do not tolerate CPAP therapy or who require ventilatory assistance (eg. COPD sufferers).

Types of Mask

There are 3 types of masks to suit the patient’s individual needs. It is very important that the mask is comfortable and provides a proper seal for the airflow; the proper air pressure level cannot be established unless the fit is correct. A comfortable mask that fits well will make using CPAP easier.

The nasal mask covers the patient nose. It is the most commonly used mask.

Nasal pillows provide direct nasal delivery and a clear field of vision. This mask is generally recommended for those who feel claustrophobic when sleeping with a nasal mask or full face mask.

A full face mask is the best solution for those patients who breathe through their mouth.

For more information, please read our CPAP Therapy FAQ or visit our Treatment section.

The Benefits of CPAP

What are the benefits of CPAP therapy?

  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved job performance
  • Increased intellectual functioning/ concentration and memory
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Alertness while driving
  • Reduction in EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes
  • Less stress on your heart and cardiovascular system
  • Reduce likelihood of stroke


What are the possible consequences of untreated OSA?

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Car accidents
  • Work-related accidents
  • Poor quality of life
  • Decreased intellectual functioning
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sexual dysfunction
Resmed AirSense S10 Auto CPAP for Him
Three Examples of CPAP therapy masks