CPAP Clinic

Continous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the leading treatment for sleep apnea. Our experts in the CPAP Clinic assist adult and pediatric patients with:

  • learning to use CPAP equipment
  • addressing any problems with their equipment
  • educational resources
  • online compliance tracking and analysis
  • follow-up care

CPAP: FIrst Steps

If your initial diagnosis and sleep study indicate you need a CPAP device, your next step will be a "CPAP titration." This involves an overnight stay in the sleep lab like your initial sleep study, but this time you will wear a CPAP mask. The mask will be adjusted until your breathing becomes normal.

After your CPAP titration, a CPAP equipment company authorized by your insurance will contact you about ordering your machine. Ask how much you will be expected to pay. If your cost through the insured company will be higher than $1,000 a year, you may want to explore purchasing equipment on your own. However, with this option you will be responsible for paying for all disposable items, including masks, hosing and filters. You also need a prescription from your provider to buy your own equipment.

Home Use

Your long-term goal should be to wear your CPAP equipment all night, every night. This may take time, so don't worry if you are unable to meet this goal in the first week or so. Don't get discouraged if you continue to experience symptoms of sleep apnea during your first weeks using the CPAP machine.

Medicare and some insurance companies require that you wear your CPAP equipment at least five days a week, four hours or longer each night. Medicare requires that you use the equipment seven of 10 nights for at least four hours in a three-month period. Most CPAP machines include a data card or modem to track your use.

When you nap for more than a half hour, you should use your CPAP device.

Fitting Your Mask

Getting the proper mask fit is important and may require trying different masks. If your mouth drops open during the night, you will lost the benefit of the CPAP machine. You may also experience a dry mouth. If your mask is leaking, pull it off your face slightly and get it resettled. This works better than tightening the Velcro straps.

There are three ways to ensure a better mask fit:

  • use a chin strap (although many find this uncomfortable)
  • use a full face mask (often the best option, although it can feel clumsy)
  • use a hybrid mask with nasal inserts and a mouth mask

Dry mouth and nasal congestion can be signs that you need more humidity. Humidity is not required but is helpful for your comfort.

If you continue to have difficulty with your mask or CPAP device, please notify your provider. If they can't help, you can notify us by calling (615) 936-0060 or sending a secure email through My Health at Vanderbilt.

Your Follow-up Appointment

After a few months of home use, you will return to the Sleep Clinic for a progress update. This is a very important visit because many insurance companies require it to reimburse your CPAP equipment. If your CPAP machine has a data card, please bring it to the appointment.