Continuous Positive-Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Last Updated: July 30, 2019

Definition - What does Continuous Positive-Airway Pressure (CPAP) mean?

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) refers to the process of maintaining a flow of air through a person's airway to keep the airway open. Often this pressure is delivered using what is known as a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP machine or CPAP device).

The delivery of continuous air pressure to a person's airway is a method used to prevent the collapse of the airway associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). By delivering a steady stream of air throughout a person's sleep cycle, the airway is held open and breathing is eased.

WorkplaceTesting explains Continuous Positive-Airway Pressure (CPAP)

During an episode of obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of a person's airway relax causing the passageway to collapse. This collapse blocks the airway, preventing the person from receiving sufficient oxygen.

The delivery of continues positive airway pressure is a common treatment for this condition. The air is delivered to the apnea sufferer through use of a mask and attached CPAP machine. These delivery devices can be programmed to deliver a consistent stream of air pressure or to adjust to the wearer's breathing patterns (APAP machines).

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