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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy | Singapore General Hospital

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy - How to prevent?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy - Causes and Risk Factors

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy - Treatments

A very effective treatment for OSA is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP therapy is considered the gold standard and most effective non-surgical treatment for OSA. Depending on the severity of OSA and the upper airway anatomy, other treatment options include weight loss, wearing of appliance during sleep and surgery.

How does CPAP therapy work?

CPAP therapy works by quietly delivering pressurised air through the nose or mouth to keep the upper airway open and maintain normal breathing during sleep. There are two important parts of the CPAP machine that need to be decided on by careful consultation with your sleep physician prior to using CPAP.

They are:

  • The mask:

    CPAP is administered through a mask that seals either the nose, mouth or both the nose and the mouth. There are a variety of masks that can be used. Most of these are made from a soft silicon or gel to maximise comfort. The mask chosen for you will be fitted by the sleep technician to suit your facial structure and breathing habits.

    The first step in choosing the type of mask is to establish how you breathe naturally (through the nose, mouth or both). There are different types of masks to suit different needs, such as:

    • Nasal masks (for nose breathers)
    • Nasal pillows (for nose breathers)
    • Full face masks (for nose and mouth breathers)
    • Oral-nasal masks (for nose and mouth breathers)
    • Oral masks (for mouth breathers)

    In order to optimise the comfort and success of CPAP therapy, it is important to identify and treat any reversible causes of nasal obstruction (e.g. chronic rhinitis, nasal polyps or septal deformities) prior to CPAP therapy.

  • The Machine:
  • Most CPAP machines today are small – about the size of a bedside alarm clock – quiet and relatively portable.

    Modern CPAP devices can deliver a fixed pressure or may have sophisticated software that can detect obstruction and self-adjust the delivered pressure (auto-titrating machines). Excessive pressure can cause air leak and discomfort while insufficient pressure will not effectively treat the sleep apnoea.

    Some devices have special modes that allow you to breathe out more easily, or can deliver a different pressure depending on whether you are breathing in or out.

    The type and setting of each device will need to be individualised for each patient after consultation with your sleep specialist.

    What happens after OSA is treated?

    OSA sufferers who start using CPAP report sleeping better and feeling more energetic and less sleepy during the day. Some report feeling better after the first day of treatment while for others, the improvement may only become apparent after a few weeks of sustained use. The benefits of CPAP include:

    • Improved sleep quality with reduction or elimination of snoring and apnoea
    • Feeling more rested and alert during the day with improved memory and cognition
    • Improved blood pressure control
    • Reduced risks of stroke, heart failure and heart attacks


Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy - Preparing for surgery

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy - Post-surgery care

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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