What is CPAP?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the most common and effective treatment for Sleep Apnoea. CPAP treats Sleep Apnoea by providing a gentle flow of positive pressure air through a mask to ‘splint’ the airways open during sleep.

When CPAP is applied, air is pumped in through a mask into your upper airway. The air prevents the muscles in the upper airway from collapsing during sleep, as is the case in Sleep Apnoea and snoring.

How can CPAP help you?

When your airway collapses, you can no longer take in air normally. Your body becomes deprived of oxygen, and often, your brain pattern is disturbed, leaving you feeling tired the following day. Properly applied, CPAP prevents disturbed sleep, airway closure, and snoring.

When used properly, CPAP can alleviate the following symptoms caused by Sleep Apnoea including, Sleepiness, Fatigue, Morning headaches, Poor concentration or memory, Decreased libido or impotence, Decreased attention, Depression, Decreased dexterity and Personality changes.

Is CPAP a cure for OSA and Snoring?

CPAP is not a permanent cure for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). CPAP will treat OSA and alleviate the symptoms associated with OSA, while it is used. If you stop using CPAP, Sleep Apnoea will occur again.

Why do I need another Sleep Study?

A Treatment Review Study is required in order for us to know what is happening in your airway while you sleep with CPAP, and to treat your Sleep Apnoea optimally. This will occur 2 weeks after the end of your CPAP Trial.

What to do after your CPAP Titration Sleep Study

You should make an appointment with your referring doctor towards the end of your 4-week CPAP Trial to discuss your progress, and the results from your Treatment Review Study on CPAP.

How often will I need further Sleep Studies?

We recommend that you have a Sleep Study every 12 months, or more if you have lost or gained weight. This will ensure that your CPAP equipment is working as well as it should, and to make any necessary adjustments to the CPAP Machine and/or mask.

How to clean your CPAP equipment

Please note: These cleaning recommendations should NOT replace the instructions supplied by your equipment manufacturer.

Top Tips

Your mask should be cleaned every morning. Wash the mask in warm soapy water, using a pure soap. Do not use hot water, detergents or bleaches as these may damage the mask. Rub the mask between your fingers to remove any oily residue. Rinse the mask, shake off any excess water, and leave the mask to dry.

Head Straps

The head strap should be washed approximately once a week. Always wash it by hand in warm soapy water, using a gentle soap and thoroughly rinse the head strap, gently wring out any excess water. Dry away from of direct sunlight.


Humidifier chambers should be emptied each day, rinsed and left to dry.


If you use a humidifier you should rinse the tubing with water each day and then hang to drip-dry. If you don’t use a humidifier, rinse the tubing monthly.


All CPAP units have the dust filters at the back of the machine, which must be cleaned and/or changed periodically. Please check your instruction booklet to find instructions for you particular pump. It is important to check the filter as they do become blocked, your machine has to work harder to draw air into the unit and thereby reducing the CPAP machines efficiency and over time reducing its longevity. As a rule, we recommend you check your filter every two weeks, and clean it if necessary – you may use a vacuum or rinse it out, as per the instructions from the manufacturer of your equipment). The filter should be replaced at least every six months, or more often if you live in a dusty environment.


This section provides comprehensive information on CPAP use and potential issues you may encounter. Sleep SA can offer you troubleshooting and CPAP purchasing advice – including which equipment would suit you, and how to take care of your equipment.

A major role of the upper airway is to cleanse, warm, and to humidify the air we breathe. This protects our airways by preventing the cells from drying out, and is an important defence against lung infection.

Exposure to cool dry gases, as in Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP), especially during winter, creates a humidity deficit in the airway because moisture is absorbed from the lining of the airway to compensate for this deficit. Nasal symptoms are common in patients with OSA, before treatment. A minority of patients starting CPAP will report a decrease in nasal symptoms, many will report new or increased symptoms such as nasal congestion, dry nose and throat, sore throat and bleeding nose. Many patients on CPAP have difficulty breathing through their nose, which predisposes them to mouth breathing. When CPAP is applied to a chronic mouth breather, the result is usually a mouth leak, which worsens the nasal symptoms.

CPAP humidification heats water in a canister via a heater plate, thereby creating water vapour. Water vapour is then carried through the CPAP tubing and mask to the CPAP user’s airway. If you are using humidification and the symptoms of nasal congestion are still present, your humidification setting may not be adequate. Each night increase the temperature setting by one unit until symptoms are alleviated. If your symptoms persist, contact Sleep SA for assistance.

Breathing through your mouth can make your nasal symptoms worse, if you are suffering a dry and/or sore throat, you may require a strap to keep your mouth closed. Contact Sleep SA for advice and assistance with this.

When using humidification with CPAP, ALWAYS have the humidified CPAP machine lower than yourself. Close your bedroom windows at night.

The ideal setting for your humidification will depend on your needs and on the temperature and humidity of your bedroom room. This may vary from night to night due to the over night temperature.

When using a humidifier with your CPAP, you may notice condensation build up in the mask and tubing. A small amount of moisture beading on the inside of the CPAP tubing is acceptable. However, if condensation is more visible than this, we advise that you take the following steps:

  • Increase the temperature in you bedroom
  • Decrease the humidifier temperature
  • Insulate the tubing with a fabric or knitted sleeve, bubble wrap, or purchase a commercially made insulating sleeve or heated CPAP tubing