CPAP provides an “air splint” that overcomes challenges to your airway as you sleep. It doesn’t breathe for you, it simply helps you to breathe better on your own as you sleep. Most PAP machines offer a ramp feature that starts off with a reduced pressure setting and gradually builds to your prescribed pressure.
It is important to remember that any form of positive airway pressure (PAP) is not oxygen.
Imagine this quandary. An individual goes to the ER for emergency care and is asked if he takes any medicines or uses any treatments. The patient says he wears oxygen at night, when in fact he is wearing PAP. This may cause the ER staff to make mistakes based on bad information supplied to them by the patient.
PAP is not oxygen–it is merely pressurized room air. It only causes your airway to open, it does not deliver air for you to breathe. It is not a ventilator.
It’s easy to see why people confuse the two. When sleep apnea occurs, a person’s oxygen level drops. However, the first line of defense for sleep apnea is not oxygen it is PAP.
In rare cases, such as with sleep apnea patients who also have COPD, something known as supplemental oxygen is given along with PAP, usually through the PAP mask by way of extra tubing.