Types of CPAP Masks: Which One is Right for You
If you've recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it's likely your doctor has prescribed CPAP therapy or continuous positive airway pressure every night.
As you enter the world of CPAP equipment, you'll quickly realize the overwhelming amount of CPAP supplies and different types of CPAP masks available. The extent to which CPAP will work for you depends greatly on what equipment you buy.
The CPAP Mask is one of the most important therapy devices as it delivers the air from the CPAP machine to your nose and mouth through a tubbing system that promotes a steady and consistent air pressure flow. The mask is also in charge of maintaining a proper seal to avoid leaks that can interrupt your treatment. Since the unit is in close contact with your face, you might imagine comfort is of utmost importance, so take your time on evaluating your options and keep in mind that finding your ideal mask may take some time. Still, when you hit the jackpot, your therapy experience will become pleasant and effective, helping you stay on track with your protocol in the long run.
A comfortable CPAP mask promotes treatment compliance, which is crucial for the success of your therapy. Your mask should never feel uncomfortable, irritate your skin, or cause pain. Depending on your needs and your doctor's prescription, you will need to find a mask that best suits your therapy requirements while considering your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Types of CPAP Masks
Full Face CPAP Masks
Full face masks cover your nose and your mouth, with cushions typically in the shape of a triangle, and are held in place by a headgear. These masks are an excellent option for mouth breathers, those who find the nasal cushion irritating, or those who haven't found success with a nasal mask.
The design can be a big turn off, especially for beginners, because it's bulkier and heavier than other types of masks. However, full face masks have come a long way. They now offer a much wider field of vision and new memory foam cushion technology for greater comfort, such as the ResMed AirTouch F20. Other full face masks allow a greater range of movement so users can switch sleeping positions comfortably during the night and even sleep closer to their bed partner. The Philips Respironics DreamWear™ Full Face Mask features a top-of-the-head hose connection that provides freedom of movement and less intrusion during the night, making it ideal for stomach sleepers. Full face masks are also a favorite amongst allergy and sinus sufferers, where it's not possible to breathe through the nose.
If you use a full face mask and find it too invasive, you can try a nasal mask or a nasal pillow mask and consider using a chin strap to eliminate mouth breathing.
Nasal CPAP Masks
Nasal masks fit over your nose only, usually covering the entire nose or the bottom half of the nose. They are commonly held in place by a headgear that attaches to the frame, such as the AirFit N30, which features a soft, under-the-nose nasal cradle cushion, ideal for side sleepers or those who feel claustrophobic with full face masks. Some nasal masks, such as the DreamWear Nasal CPAP Mask, work by directing airflow through the frame. It offers the benefits of pillows masks but without inserting anything inside the nose.
Nasal masks provide a comfortable delivery of pressure due to its less direct nature and are generally more accepted by users with higher pressure settings. On the other end, they can irritate the bridge of the nose and cause discomfort for those who have frequent allergies and sinus infections.
Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks
Nasal pillow masks are the least invasive and provide a clear field of vision, even more light and minimal than nasal masks. Ideal if your bedtime routine involves reading, wearing glasses, or watching TV. If you have claustrophobia or facial hair, this is also a common option.
The nasal pillow mask creates a seal at the base of the nostril where the cushion sits. However, if your prescription has a high-pressure setting or you suffer from nasal allergies, this probably won't be the best type of mask for you.
Different types of sleep apnea masks have come about to accommodate individual needs and personalize your CPAP experience. There are several things you need to consider before choosing a CPAP mask:
- Therapy Requirements and Pressure Settings
- Personal Preference
- Facial Features
- Health Condition
Your doctor may prescribe a specific mask depending on your CPAP therapy pressure settings; however, it's also important to consider lifestyle factors that can influence your treatment adherence.
CPAP Mask for Your Lifestyle
- Sleeping Position
- Mouth Breathing
- Bedtime routine: reading, watching TV, wearing glasses
- Facial Hair
- Allergies or Sinus Congestion
When getting used to CPAP therapy, there are a few things that you can do to make your treatment a success.
4 Tips for a Successful CPAP Therapy
- Find the Right Mask
It might seem obvious, but it's essential to take your time and evaluate your options that cater to your specific needs. Everyone has different face shapes and lifestyle needs, so the right style and size mask for someone else may not work for you. The CPAP industry has expanded its product lines to accommodate everything from slimmer facial features for women, facial hair, and mouth breathing.
Fit is everything when it comes to masks. The sizing guides can help you find the perfect fit for comfort and proper mask seal.
- Be Patient
It can be challenging to get used to CPAP therapy as it does come with side effects: feelings of claustrophobia or dry mouth, but the good news is that these issues can be corrected with the right equipment and accessories, and also a knowledgeable sleep specialist, doctor, and your CPAP machine manufacturer.
- Stay Consistent
To get the best results from your CPAP therapy, you need to use it diligently every night. We recommend wearing your mask for some time to help you become more comfortable and make use of the ramp feature on your CPAP machine. This feature gradually increases the pressure over a period of time to ease you into sleep. You may also choose to use a humidifier to avoid dryness and consider CPAP travel equipment if you're usually on the go to prevent travel plans from interrupting your sleep therapy.
- Think Comfort
There are many ways you can improve comfort and set yourself for success. Visit our line of extensive wellness and comfort accessories that can make a big impact on your CPAP therapy experience.
Now that you've learned about the different types of CPAP masks available, we hope you feel more confident in your CPAP Mask decision according to your specific needs.
Written by The Sleeplay Team