Knowledge: One Big Step Closer to a Healthy Night’s Sleep

Frequently Asked Questions

First of all, if you or your loved one struggles with sleep apnea, you are not alone. Far from it! More than 20 million Americans today suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – and that’s a conservative estimate!

Amazingly, despite the fact that OPA is as common as it is, approximately three-quarters of adults with OSA remain undiagnosed! And a large number of those that are successfully diagnosed avoid treatment, usually due to embarrassment or a lack of understanding of the seriousness of OSA.

Our team of experts at CPAP Store USA have assembled the list of frequently asked questions below to help get you started on the road to better understanding of OPA – a serious condition – with readily available and effective treatment options!

So what, exactly, is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.  Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.  As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.

OSA is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children who have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats may have obstructive sleep apnea.

What are the most common symptoms of OSA? 

The three most common symptoms of OSA include: constant fatigue; difficulty focusing; and irritability.  There are many other symptoms that are serious and even life threatening. Read the health risks below.

What is Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and how does it differ from OSA?

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a less common type of sleep apnea. This disorder occurs if the area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn't send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. As a result, you'll make no effort to breathe for brief periods. CSA can affect anyone. However, it's more common in people who have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.  CSA can occur with obstructive sleep apnea or alone. Snoring typically doesn't happen with central sleep apnea. BiPAP therapy can be used to help people with CSA. The BiPAP machine provides air pressure in an inhale/exhale pattern helping a person to breathe.

What are the health risks of untreated sleep apnea?

Clinically, OSA can result in low blood oxygen levels, decreased function and depression. If left untreated, OSA can cause serious long-term complications, including stroke, heart attack, and even death.

Untreated Sleep Apnea can lead to:

High Blood Pressure


Heart Attack

Congestive Heart Failure

Cardiac Arrhythmia





Chronic Fatigue

Morning Headaches


If I think I might have a sleep apnea issue, but am not certain, what should I do?

Ask your primary care physician or doctor to schedule a sleep study for you. It is the only way to find out for sure if you are suffering from sleep apnea.

What is titration as it relates to sleep studies?

If a sleep study determines you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you will need a "titration study" to determine the pressure level required to maintain your airway during sleep. A titration study may take place during the same night as your diagnosing sleep study or it may be scheduled for a later date.

I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, what should I do first? 

For effective treatment, the CPAP equipment must be used nightly. Because of this, selecting the most comfortable equipment and mask possible is advisable. CPAP Store USA provides a low cost, hassle free alternative to the stress and risk of dealing with private insurance and traditional providers to obtain CPAP equipment and supplies.

You will need a CPAP machine and a CPAP mask for effective CPAP therapy. Every CPAP machine comes with a power cord, filters, and a hose (tubing). CPAP masks are sold separately.

During your CPAP therapy you may find that your needs require additional elements. More advanced and comfortable setups also include humidifiers, machine software, CPAP mask strap pads, chinstraps, insulated hose coverings, extra filters, and comfort & cleaning accessories (all available at CPAP Store USA).

What is CPAP therapy and how does it work?

CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.” CPAP therapy is the most commonly recommended, and the method most frequently proven to be effective in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

 A CPAP machine provides air at a constant prescribed pressure. The air is delivered to the patient through a tube and a CPAP mask. CPAP therapy provides a constant airflow, which gently keeps the airway open so uninterrupted breathing is maintained during sleep.

The air stream created by the CPAP technology eliminates Sleep Apnea events and allows the person to get a restful sleep.

Does it really matter what brand of CPAP machine I get?  Aren’t all CPAP machines created equal?

We recommend for you to get the best and most comfortable equipment available.  There is a significant difference between “basic” and “high end” CPAP equipment. High-end equipment is generally smaller, lighter, quieter, less prone to leaks, easier to breathe against, better humidified and easier to travel with than basic CPAP Equipment.

How do I know if I have the latest and best equipment?

It’s important to stay informed in terms of what’s new in the CPAP equipment world. Manufacturers regularly release improved versions of previous technologies which can make CPAP therapy more comfortable and effective. Subscribe to our CPAP Store USA newsletter and get the product and industry news that enhances your therapy and improves your sleep.

How long will I have to use CPAP?

Treating sleep apnea is different than curing it.  As of now, there is no regularly accepted “cure” for OSA.  Using a CPAP machine treats OSA, it does not “end” it. It is very important to remember that this is therapy and therapy is continuous. CPAP therapy is still today, the most recommended and the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

Do I have to use CPAP every time I sleep?

Yes. Using CPAP therapy every night and during naps will increase the effectiveness of therapy, which will lead to an improvement in your mood and energy levels. Remember that even during a short rest, your air passage is obstructed. Being without oxygen is harmful to your health both short and long term. To avoid the side effects of untreated Sleep Apnea use your CPAP each time you sleep – even when you travel! There are a number of helpful travel cases available for just that purpose.

It will get easier, and become second nature to you if you stick with CPAP therapy.

Are prescriptions required for my mask, machine, humidifier, and Provent purchases?

Yes. Federal law requires that vendors (including CPAP Store USA) have a valid prescription on file before shipping masks, machines and humidifiers.

CPAP Store USA can request your prescription for you! When you checkout, just let us know you would like us to request your prescription, or you can log into your account to have us request your prescription.

Or, if you already have your prescription, you can fax it to us toll free at (888) 512-7278, or e-mail your prescription to  Alternatively, you can upload your prescription in your account, under the Prescriptions section of the website.

What comes with my machine?

Machines come with a six foot hose, a power cord, at least one filter, and instruction manuals.

Are some parts of my CPAP machine disposable?

Yes! It’s important that you replace disposable equipment elements regularly. CPAP filters should be replaced following manufacturer's guidelines. In general, disposable or fine filters should be replaced once a month. Washable, or foam filters, should be rinsed with clear, running water once a week and allowed to air dry and should be replaced every 6 months. Expect a CPAP mask to remain effective for about six months. Sinus infections and nasal congestion often result from the failure to care for and replace disposable equipment regularly.

CPAP Store USA offers equipment replacement reminders to help you maintain healthy functional therapy. After placing an order, you will be given the option to have email reminders sent to you. Select the desired time frame for the reminder email that best suits your lifestyle.

I see there are lots of different kinds of CPAP masks. How do I choose which one is right for me?

CPAP therapy is delivered through a various masks.  Nasal masks seal around the nose (like a small gas mask). Nasal pillows seal at the nasal opening. Nasal prong masks seal inside the nares. Full face masks are available for a person who breathes through both the nose and mouth. Many innovative and comfortable options are available and advances in the delivery of CPAP therapy are continually being developed. At CPAP Store USA, we work hard to research and carry the latest and most comfortable supplies. 

How do I know what level of air pressure will work best?

The level of air pressure required to maintain airflow through your airway is determined during a sleep study recommended by your physician. The doctor will write a prescription for a CPAP machine set at the appropriate pressure.

I hear that for some people it’s hard to get used to wearing the mask. Any tips?

Everybody is different and some people take to wearing the mask faster than others. When you wear your mask at first, try it around the house so that you can get used to the feel of it. Try to watch TV with it on, read while wearing your mask and even do light chores. Getting used to the feel of the mask when you are awake will help it to feel familiar at bedtime. 

Which CPAP masks work on which machines?

All CPAP masks work with all CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP machines.

What regular maintenance is required on machines? 

The only care a CPAP, APAP or BiPAP machine requires is to clean or change the filters at the air intake. This keeps the internal parts from accumulating dust. Fine paper filters should be changed out every 30 days, or when they appear soiled. Foam washable filters should be rinsed with clear running water once a week, allowed to air dry, and reinserted.

How does an APAP machine differ from a CPAP?

Some CPAP users find it more pleasant to breathe with an APAP than with CPAP because the air pressure is not the same level at all times. With an APAP, the pressure automatically changes as needed to deliver the minimal pressure required to maintain the airway. The pressure delivered by a CPAP machine is set to a single pressure, the highest necessary to keep the airway open as determined during the sleep study. This is the case even when the higher pressure is needed only a fraction of the time.

What is a BiPAP or BiLevel machine?

A BiPAP machine (also referred to as BiLevel or VPAP) delivers two separate and distinct pressures. A higher pressure is need for inhalation, while a lower pressure is needed for exhalation. The machine alternates between the two pressures, which are set per the doctor's order or prescription.

What are “data capable” machines?

Data capable machines track your therapy progress and performance over time. Therapy data can be used to spot issues and used to see how changes to your CPAP setup effects your overall treatment. You and your doctor can use the therapy information to make changes to your setup. Some changes might include altering the mask or fit or increasing or decreasing your pressure to see if your therapy performance improves to ensure you are getting effective treatment.

The data capable machines not only let you know how many hours the machine was used, like pure compliance tracking machines, but they also track advanced information such as AHI, leak rate, and average pressure (if using an APAP).

Depending on the machine, the information can be reviewed or accessed

on the machine screen display. Machines that display advanced tracking using the on machine display allow for fast review of therapy metrics. Many people like to use the on screen display to check every morning. Information such as AHI and leak rate for the previous night are displayed allowing the user to make adjustments such as mask fit.

What is a “SmartCode?”

A SmartCode is accessed through the machine's display and can be entered into the machine's product page on the CPAP Store USA website to generate a summary report.

What are compliance tracking machines?

Compliance tracking machines only track the numbers of hours the machine is used. These machines do not track any advanced information such as AHI or leak rate.

Compliance machines are basic machines which the manufacturers made to be able to track usage hours. Compliance tracking machines are a manufacturer response to Medicare requirements that mandate DME (Durable Medical Equipment) providers show the Medicare patient used the equipment for the required minimum number of hours set by Medicare. DME providers cannot continue to be paid by Medicare without this information.

What is “ramp?”

The ramp button on a machine is a feature that allows for a gradual pressure build-up to your prescribed pressure. The feature is often preferred by those with high pressures because it eases up to the required pressure.

What is exhalation relief?

Exhalation relief is a comfort feature, which reduces the air flow at the time of exhalation, making the breathing process more natural.

How can I find replacement parts for my CPAP machine?

CPAP Store USA has a wide variety of parts available from multiple manufacturers, including everything required to operate a CPAP machine. 

You can contact customer service at for a one-on-one consultation.

What role does humidification play in CPAP technology?

Humidification adds moisture to the CPAP air, reducing irritation to the nasal passages caused by the increased airflow. CPAP air is an irritant - to one degree or another - to everyone. In some cases the irritation dries out the nasal passages and may cause bleeding. It may also cause swelling, excess mucous, congestion or sneezing. The irritation may create a very fertile ground for infections to begin. The irritation may be cumulative, building up over time. The only way to reduce the irritation is to add moisture. Humidification is therefore a critical part of CPAP Therapy.

Sometimes I have trouble finding distilled water for my CPAP? Is other water acceptable? 

If distilled water is not available where you live, use bottled water. It will be important to clean the chamber each morning, do not leave standing water in the chamber between uses

How often should I replace my CPAP hose?

CPAP hoses can last a long time, sometimes up to a year if cleaned, dried and taken care of properly. Signs of wear include dry, cracked places on the inside lining or on the rubber ends; "stretch marks" near the rubber ends; mineral deposits or mold from water left inside the hose; or a visible puncture or tear in the material.

Does CPAP Store USA offer “Return Insurance?”

With every mask CPAP Store USA sells, you have the option of purchasing return insurance. Masks are FDA approved medical devices. Once a mask is used, it cannot be resold to another customer. CPAP Store USA was the first in the industry to offer return insurance to customers. Return insurance provides 15 days for you to try a mask and return it for any reason for a refund of the price of the mask. If you are trying a mask for the first time, return insurance might be right for you.

How do I take care of my mask?

Masks should be washed daily with warm water and gentle soap or baby shampoo. Let the mask air dry. The best time to clean your mask is in the morning after use. This removes the oils left behind from your skin, which can reduce the lifespan of your mask. We recommend using Mask Wipes to make daily morning cleaning easy. The mask wipes are made from materials that will not break down your mask.

How often should I replace my mask? 

Medicare allows for mask cushion replacement every three (3) months, and a complete mask system replacement every six (6) months. CPAP manufacturers and vendors suggest these replacement schedules as well.

In our experience, most mask cushions begin to deteriorate after about six months of use. The cushion eventually becomes too soft to hold a seal. The headgear straps lose elasticity and must be tightened more and more to get the same quality seal.

We strongly suggest replacing cushions and pillows as soon as they start to soften. Air leaks may reduce the effectiveness of CPAP therapy and headgear that is too tight may cause facial sores at pressure points. In most cases, replacement headgear is available if it is stretched out or the Velcro worn out.

It seems like CPAPs are designed for people who sleep on their backs. I sleep on my side or stomach, what are my options?

As a sleep apnea sufferer, you may have conditioned yourself, pre-treatment, to prefer sleeping on your side or stomach because without a CPAP machine, sleeping on your back worsens most forms of sleep-disordered breathing. However, sleeping on your side or stomach can present problems with CPAP therapy. Both positions can put pressure on one side of your mask increasing your leak rate. Your options are to try a mask that other side sleepers like or try bed pillows made for CPAP users.

I breathe through my mouth, what are my options?

People who have a deviated septum, small nostrils, or who suffer from seasonal allergies or chronic sinus issues, may breathe through the mouth rather than the nose. If you are a person who breathes through your mouth you may be able to wear most masks with a few adaptations. Add a Chinstrap if using nasal pillows, nasal prongs or a nasal mask might also help.

A full face mask or hybrid mask can be used without a chinstrap because the seal covers both the nose and mouth. A full face mask will allow you to breathe through your mouth or through your nose.

Why is air leaking from my mouth?

Air leaks from the mouth whenever the mouth is opened during CPAP therapy. This occurs for many reasons, but a very common one is due to nasal irritation from the CPAP airflow.

How do I stop mask leaks?

Air leaks can be caused by masks that are too big, too old, or simply the wrong style. Air leaking into the eyes is usually an indication that the mask is too big (long or wide) as are leaks at the base of the nose. Leaks may also occur under the nose due to facial hair. As the silicone in the mask cushion ages, it deteriorates and becomes too soft to hold a seal. For many masks, the cushion may be removed and replaced to extend the life of the mask.

As a CPAP user, why do I sometimes wake up with dry eyes?

Air leaking from the mask at the bridge of the nose and over the eyes during sleep will cause the eyes to dry out. The most common reason for air leaking at the nose bridge is that the mask is too big or too long for the nose.

We would suggest you try our measurements for sizing your mask to be sure you have the best size. A mask that has an adjustment at the bridge may also be helpful in getting a good fit. Nasal pillow or nose cushion devices that don’t rest on the nose are also an option.

It is not advisable to tighten the headgear to eliminate the air leak. Pressure from a mask that is too tight will cause bruises and even open sores if applied long enough.

What should I do if I sometimes wake up to find my mask is off?

Some people inadvertently remove their masks during sleep because they are not getting enough air. Adjust your had strap for comfort and also check the status of your seal. Your mask may be too big or too old. We would suggest you resize your mask to be sure you have the best fit. If your mask fits, but it is six to nine months old, it should be replaced. As the silicone in the mask cushion ages, it deteriorates and becomes too soft to hold a seal. For many masks, you can get a replacement cushion.


Why is my nose sometimes dried out when I wake up in the morning? 

The primary reason nasal passages can become dry from CPAP use is lack of adequate humidification.

Using a Heated Humidifier to add moisture to the CPAP air may reduce or eliminate the irritation to the nose. An unheated, Passover Humidifier may not offer enough additional moisture. If you are already using a heated humidifier, try turning it up to a higher setting. If that produces condensation in the six foot hose, you should try an Insulating Cover for the hose. You can also try using a Nose Lubricant to reduce the dryness.

What can I do for sinus and congestion relief?

A lot of new CPAP users report having an increase in sinus congestion after starting CPAP therapy. When treating your obstructive sleep apnea, sinus congestion presents a roadblock to healthy breathing. Typically, the best solution  is to add a Heated Humidifier to add moisture to the CPAP air and reduce or eliminate the irritation. If you are already using a heated humidifier, try turning it up to a higher setting. If that produces condensation in the six foot hose, you should try an Insulating Cover for the hose. You can also try using a Sinus Rinse before going to bed and again once you wake in the morning to help clear your sinuses.

I sometimes have a headache when I wake up. Is this because of my CPAP?

CPAP does not normally cause headaches unless there is a sinus related problem or if the pressure is too high. Sinus systems extend behind your ears. When a CPAP is used and part of the sinus cavities are blocked, a situation is created where there is a pressure differential between the sinus cavities affected. These pressure differences can sometimes be felt as sinus headaches or just plain headaches, even though they are caused by sinus blockages. These can be treated using over the counter medications to open the sinus. CPAP heated humidifiers can also open and maintain sinus systems. If you do not use a heated humidifier, we strongly suggest using one. If this does not correct the problem, visit your ENT.

How do I avoid red marks on my face from using the CPAP? 

Most red marks on the face are caused by over tightening the CPAP mask. CPAP masks should only be tightened down enough to create a seal. To avoid over tightening your mask, you should work clockwise around the mask, making small adjustments to the headgear, until the mask is securely in place but not overly tight. You should avoid pulling too much on one side of the mask than on the other.

By cleaning your mask cushion, nasal pillows, and nasal prongs on a daily basis, you ensure a better seal each time you put on your mask. If you know you have a mask that fits, and are cleaning it daily, and still have red marks, consider using Mask Straps Pads, which are soft covering for the headgear straps.

Will CPAP cause my face to break out around my nose?

Occasionally, a breakout can occur from the facial oils building up under the mask at night. You can help minimize this by washing your face before putting on the mask at night and by cleaning the facial oils off the mask every morning. If you are still experiencing a breakout, you might consider Nasal Pillow Masks. The nasal pillow design has less material in direct contact with the skin.

Why is the bridge of my nose sore?

Sores at the bridge of the nose or below the nose are usually due to tightening the headgear straps too much. The pressure will create soreness, then a bruise, and may eventually create an open sore if left untreated. Try loosening the headgear straps to achieve a more comfortable fit.

Can I travel by air with my CPAP?

Yes, you can travel by air with CPAP equipment. Sleep therapy should be used every night and your equipment should be taken along when traveling. We recommend that you check with your airline carrier to verify their policies regarding CPAP equipment, but generally, in the USA, a CPAP machine and mask are not counted as a carry-on item, as long as the CPAP carry case meets the size restrictions set for carry-on items. In some cases, an on-board electrical outlet may be available. If you plan to use the equipment during the flight, a battery backup should be carried in the event the on-board power is interrupted.

Any other CPAP-related travel tips I should know?

CPAP therapy should be used every night. Your CPAP or BiPAP machine and equipment should go with you on trips. There are some tips to help with your travel:

  • Remove Water From The Humidifier. If you are going to take your CPAP humidifier with you, remove ALL water from the humidifier chamber. Water left in the humidifier chamber can be tipped into your machine and cause damage.
  • Plan Your Power Needs. Know what type of power your CPAP requires. If you are going to use a battery, make sure you have all the parts needed to safely run the CPAP on battery power. If you are traveling abroad make sure you have an international adapter plug. Check out the Power Solutions section of the FAQ for more information.
  • Bring Spare Parts and Back Up Mask. Like the power cord, items get left behind or misplaced while on the road. Having spare parts and a back up mask will ensure you are not caught without equipment.


Will my old Rx work for purchasing CPAP equipment?

Federal law requires we have a valid prescription on file before shipping your mask, machine and/or humidifier. To fulfill the requirement, please submit a script with a future expiration date, written for "lifetime need," or "99 months." As long as the prescription has these prerequisites, you can purchase CPAP equipment.

Even if you are making the purchase of a prescription-required item without insurance, we will need a prescription to fulfill the order based on Federal regulations. It is possible that you have previously purchased equipment without an Rx, but going forward all machines, masks, and humidifiers must be purchased with a prescription. CPAP Accessories and mask assembly kits are the only pieces of equipment sold without a prescription.


What if I have more questions?

Yes! At CPAP Store USA, Sleep Apnea and the equipment used to treat it are our areas of expertise!  Call us toll free at (888) 512-7278 or e-mail and we will be happy to assist you!