Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy uses a machine to regulate airflow to an individual suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (a condition that restricts or stops proper breathing due to the narrowing of airways during sleep). A CPAP machine increases air pressure in the throat so the airway does not collapse during inhalation. The CPAP can be used as a nebulizer, or a breathing device that dispels a prescribed drug used in relieving mild asthma symptoms, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure.

Begin by comfortably lying on your back with a pillow underneath the head. It is important to establish a proper sleeping position for the CPAP machine to be used efficiently and for the nebulizing medication to be inhaled correctly.

Snugly cover the nose with the face mask so that air from the machine cannot leak out.

The CPAP machine needs low air pressure in order to expel the nebulizer's medication. Begin by adding medication to the nebulizer's cup. Cut the CPAP'S tubing down the middle, or at the "joint" section. Insert the nebulizer's mouthpiece at both ends to the CPAP's tubing, forming a "T" at the joint section with 6 to 8 liters of oxygen attached. Attach the joint section closest to the CPAP's mask to prevent medication from seeping out of the circuit.

Turn the CPAP machine on, making sure to switch it on a low air pressure setting. Gradually increase the pressure according to your tolerance level. Gradual pressures help regulate the medication's flow, allowing more of the nebulized drug to be inhaled and to take effect.

Once the machine is on, take normal breaths in and out to receive the oxygen and medication. It may help to use a humidifier or a corticosteroid nasal spray to reduce nasal irritation or post-nasal drainage when using the CPAP machine.

Special ointments can be applied to a person who needs to wear the CPAP mask every night. Constant mask wearing can cause minor irritation and redness around the nose. If this is the case, apply a dime-size amount of petroleum jelly or a relief cream on areas that may become irritated before and after use.

If problems occur with the machine or receiving the nebulizing drug, have a physician evaluate and adjust the CPAP machine to correct any problems. A lower air pressure may need to be applied to reduce any discomfort caused by too much air pressure. A bilevel positive airway pressure machine (BiPAP) can work by using a different air pressure to regulate breathing.