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What Does a CPAP Machine Do When You Stop Breathing?

September 29, 2021


Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the most commonly prescribed and effective treatment for sleep apnea disorders. Sleep apnea causes interruptions in breathing while a person sleeps, often because the throat or airways briefly collapse or something temporarily blocks them. CPAP machines work by sending a steady flow of natural room air into your mouth and nose, allowing your airways to stay open and helping you breathe normally.

Most sleep apnea patients know that using a CPAP machine regularly is the best way to reduce symptoms. However, if you were recently prescribed CPAP therapy, you may be wondering what your CPAP machine actually does when you stop breathing.

How Does a CPAP Machine Work When You Stop Breathing?

The primary goal of CPAP therapy is to give your body a continuous flow of air to prevent lapses in breathing and put an end to your restless nights. So, how does a CPAP machine help when you stop breathing? First, your CPAP motor generates a pressurized air stream that travels through an air filter into a flexible tube. Then, the tube delivers the purified air into your CPAP mask, which is sealed to your nose or mouth. Throughout the night, the airstream from your machine pushes against any blockages, ensuring your airways stay open and your lungs receive plenty of oxygen.

Signs That Your CPAP Therapy Is Not Working

CPAP therapy is typically very successful; however, no treatment is perfect. It’s essential to know the signs that indicate your CPAP machine is not working and what to do about it. During CPAP therapy, you use one pressure setting on your machine for the entire night. This setting is prescribed by your doctor and unique to each patient. If the pressure is set too low, you may experience increased sleep apnea symptoms, such as snoring or waking up gasping for air. Conversely, when the pressure is set too high, you can experience side effects like nasal congestion, discomfort, and frequently interrupted sleep.

If you notice an increase in sleep apnea symptoms despite regular CPAP therapy, your machine or its pressure settings may need to be adjusted. Most CPAP machines record the effectiveness of your treatment for easy access and review by your doctor. However, you may need another sleep study to re-examine your sleep and create a new treatment plan.

When you stop breathing at night, it is a tell-tale sign that your sleep apnea symptoms have returned. If you’re concerned about your sleep apnea treatment, it is best to consult your sleep physician before making any changing to your machine settings or discontinuing CPAP therapy. At Advanced Homecare, our doctors and patient care team are here to answer your questions and order CPAP supplies, if necessary. Contact us today to learn more about our sleep apnea services.

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