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How to Breathe With CPAP Nasal Pillows?

Mar 05, 2024
· 7 mins read

One of the most important things to maintain CPAP compliance and ensure optimal treatment is choosing a CPAP mask suited for you. This mask will deliver air from the CPAP machine to your nose and mouth while maintaining a consistent air pressure flow and avoiding air leaks that can potentially interrupt the treatment.

Cpap therapy

There are three types of masks available on the market: Nasal masks, nasal pillow masks, and full-face masks. Of these three options, nasal pillows are the most compact because they occupy a very small face surface area.

Finding the best CPAP mask for you is only the first part of the process. Understanding how to use it and properly care for your gear is equally important. In this article, we give you insight into how to use a nasal pillow mask and tips to make the most of your treatment.

How to Breathe Correctly Using CPAP Nasal Pillows

CPAP Nasal Pillows are built to sit directly under the nose and are held in place by two flexible pillows inserted into each nostril with fewer straps and less face coverage compared to other masks, providing more flexibility in terms of sleeping positions and movement.

When using a CPAP Nasal Pillow Mask you should breathe normally through your nose . Remember that your sleep apnea treatment won’t be as effective, and there could be air leaks if you breathe through your mouth using a nasal pillow or CPAP mask.

Mouth breathing is a common problem among people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other CPAP users. It can lead to dry mouth, sore throat, and decreased effectiveness of your CPAP therapy if you aren’t using a full-face mask.

Here are some tricks to avoid mouth breathing while using your CPAP machine:

Keep Your Sinuses Clear

Nasal congestion can lead to nose blocking and, therefore, mouth breathing. You can use a CPAP machine with humidification or talk to your doctor, who can prescribe treatments such as nasal steroid sprays if indicated.

Adjust Your Starting Air Pressure or Use a BiPAP Machine

If the air pressure of the CPAP device is not well adjusted, it can lead to air leaks and mouth dryness. However, if you’re having trouble with this, it is advisable to get expert support since it is not recommended to change the pressure yourself.

On the other hand, you can also consider using a Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machine. This device keeps the airway open during sleep by delivering two different air pressures. It senses both inhalation and exhalation and produces different pressures depending on this, making breathing easier.

Consider a Chin Strap

A chin strap will prevent your mouth from opening during sleep, ensuring that the air from the CPAP mask will reach the airway.

Try Mouth Taping

Chin straps may not always stop the air from escaping the lips. This is why, in some cases, health care providers may suggest mouth taping.

How To Use a Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask

Nasal pillow CPAP masks have great features, such as allowing freedom of movement if you’re an active sleeper . However, If you want your CPAP therapy to be effective, you must ensure you use your CPAP mask correctly.

Consider that you’ll be using this mask the entire night, so understanding its proper manipulation will make the optimum use for your continuous positive airway pressure therapy.

If you’re using a nasal pillow mask , the steps you need to follow are:

  • •Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeinated food products such as coffee and soda before your sleep since they can impair and worsen your sleep pattern.

  • Clean your face and CPAP mask before every use. This is important because face oils may impair the seal of the pillow, resulting in skin irritation.

  • •Place the soft plastic triangles directly under your nostrils.

  • •Pull the strap over your head.

  • •Adjust your mask strap to ensure a snug fit and prevent air leakages without causing discomfort. To make sure the mask isn’t too tight, you should be able to put a finger under the straps.

  • •Turn your CPAP machine on.

Tips For Using CPAP Nasal Pillows

There are some things CPAP users can do to make their CPAP journey and their experience with nasal pillow masks more pleasant, such as:

Practice Regularly

Use your CPAP machine consistently, even during short naps, to get accustomed to breathing with nasal pillow masks.

Proper Fit

Ensure that your nasal pillows are the correct size and properly fitted. Choosing the correct size depends on your position at night because the pillow is supposed to create a seal, preventing air leaks and discomfort. For example, if you sleep on your stomach or the sides, you can try the large-size nasal mask.

Clean Your Equipment

Regularly clean and maintain your CPAP equipment , including nasal pillows, to prevent obstructions and discomfort and to prolong their lifespan.

Nasal pillows can last 3 to 6 months, depending on their proper usage and cleaning. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and replacement.

Advantages of Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks

Nasal pillow masks are the preferred option for CPAP users who experience claustrophobia, require higher pressure, and are side sleepers. Some of its advantages over other types of CPAP masks include:

Minimal Face Contact

Nasal pillows offer a reduced contact area on the face before sleeping more comfortably.

Unobstructed Field of Vision

They provide a clear field of vision and an open feeling so you can sleep easily and keep up with your night routine as usual.

Less Bulky

Most are lightweight and comfortable, allowing freedom of movement during sleep without compromising the mask’s seal.

Require Higher Pressure

Higher pressure settings can improve the airflow effectiveness when using nasal pillows.

This type of mask is less likely to cause skin irritation and permits a more secure fit for people with facial hair. Also, the nasal pillow design prevents air leaks.

However, they may not be effective for people with a deviated septum, mouth breathers, and those who require higher airflow pressures, since it could be uncomfortable because of the mask constitution.

There are other situations, such as when the CPAP user has a cold, in which a full-face mask is recommended.

Nasal Mask vs. Nasal Pillow Mask

These types of masks differ in their design and how they deliver pressurized air. While a nasal mask covers the entire nose and forms a seal around it, nasal pillows have small inserts placed into the nostrils.

This way, a nasal pillow mask can offer a comfortable solution for patients under treatment for sleep apnea.

However, you must consult your doctor to determine which of these masks is the most suitable. This depends on personal needs, preferences, and other factors such as whether or not you suffer from claustrophobia, allergies, nasal congestion, your bedtime routine, or if you are a mouth breather.

Top Nasal Pillow Masks

Now that you know how to use a nasal pillow mask and its advantages, you must be wondering which is the most adequate mask for yourself. Here are some examples:

ResMed AirFit™ P10 Nasal Pillow Mask with Headgear

The soft dual-wall nasal pillows are user-friendly, latex-free and come in three sizes to ensure you find the right fit. The ResMed AirFit P10 is a minimal nasal pillow mask with QuietAir technology and a secure and reliable seal. A true favorite among CPAP users due to its comfortable design, open field of vision and soft nasal pillows.

ResMed AirFit™ P30i Nasal Pillow Mask Starter Pack

This nasal pillow mask offers a wider range of nasal pillow sizes for a custom fit, has minimal touchpoints that adapt to the contours of the face, eliminates the bulk, reduces facial marks, and accommodates side sleepers. The top of the head hose and 360-degree swivel allow for full range of motion with unobstructed vision. It also operates quietly and offers a reliable seal.

Brevida - Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask with Headgear

The Fisher & Paykel Brevida Nasal Pillow Mask features a seal extending from the nose's tip to the cheek, resting just above the upper lip, securing the fit and comfort and preventing air leaks. Featuring the 360 swivel elbow, two different sizes and an adjustable headgear, this nasal pillow mask is meant for all-night comfort.

ResMed AirFit™ P10 for Her Nasal Pillow Mask with Headgear

It is easy to use and covers very little of your face while gently dispersing exhaled air away from you and your partner. Ideal for women with longer hear and who struggle with red marks on their face, this minimalist nasal pillow mask is the answer.

Rio II - Nasal Pillow Mask with Headgear - Fit Pack

This is one of the lightest CPAP masks available on the market, providing exceptional freedom of movement with minimal contact with the face. The simple design has only 2 points of adjustment: a highly adjustable split back strap and two Velcro fasteners.

The mask you select will be your partner in your CPAP journey, so if you’re looking for the best CPAP machines and masks, Sleeplay has everything you need to get you started. If you need help finding the right CPAP mask for you, please contact one of our experts, and we’ll be happy to help.
Gabriela Alvarado

Medically reviewed: Bárbara Araque

Graduated with honors as a Medical Doctor. She is a researcher and ambassador for the educational platform AMBOSS dedicated to health issues. She is currently contributing her expertise as a professor at the Central University of Venezuela.

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