With so many choices available for those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it may be challenging to choose the best CPAP masks for you, especially if this is your first time buying CPAP masks.
Finding a mask that fits your needs, preferred sleeping position, and lifestyle is essential for CPAP treatment compliance. A 2016 study published in The Clinical Respiratory Journal found that those who used better-fitting masks had fewer leaks and discomfort and were able to handle higher treatment pressures.
In light of these findings, we’ve created this guide to help you sift through any confusion you may have regarding the many CPAP mask kinds and choose the one that’s best for your lifestyle and medical needs. Once you and your doctor have decided which mask type is appropriate, read our most current guide on the best cpap masks to compare the top brands based on the kind of mask, comfort, lifestyle, and more.
We’ll go over the basics first, then the different types of CPAP masks, some common problems that could occur during therapy, and how to tackle them.
What Is a CPAP Mask?
Using CPAP masks, patients getting CPAP therapy receive pressurized air into their airways. A hose or tube connects the mask—which comes in a range of styles, dimensions, and materials—to the CPAP machine.
There are additional masks that lay under the nose, those that cover the mouth in addition to the nose, some that just cover the mouth, and even others that cover the whole face. Traditional CPAP masks include a triangular cushion that covers the wearer’s nose.
The mask must create an airtight seal in order for the air pressure to stay consistent as it travels down the airway. Your perfect mask will do this without being too constricting, irritating your face, or requiring many modifications.
The Basic Composition of a Mask
Most CPAP masks consist of three main components: a mask cushion, a mask frame, and a mask headgear.
The mask cushion is supported by the mask frame, which is attached to the mask headpiece. Most masks include Velcro tabs, traditional or magnetic clips, or both, to secure your headgear in place. Some masks include quick-release clips that make it simple to remove the headgear without having to adjust it when you put it back on.
Mask cushions are responsible for providing a tight seal to reduce air leakage and make the masks comfortable to use. Inflatable (sometimes referred to as fabric), silicone, gel, and foam are the most often used materials for mask cushions. There are a few other kinds. Even when you change positions while you are sleeping, the right cushion for you will be comfortable and retain a good seal.
Additionally, it’s important to consider the different materials that you feel comfortable rubbing against your face at night. To make you feel more comfortable, we provide numerous choices for reducing skin irritation, including cotton wraps and mask liners.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that results in breathing pauses while you’re sleeping, and it may affect up to 22 million Americans. The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, which include loud snoring, gasping for air while sleeping, drowsiness throughout the day, and difficulties concentrating, are present in over 80% of these people.
If your sleep apnea symptoms interfere with your daily activities, your doctor may suggest continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to help you breathe more smoothly while you sleep.
A mask is used with CPAP devices in conjunction with a special machine that continually breathes air into your airways. Since not all CPAP masks are created similarly, there is no universal method for selecting the best one. It’s very easy to compare the many CPAP mask types. If you are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each mask, it will be easier for you to choose the one that best satisfies your particular needs.
Full-face CPAP masks
Full face CPAP masks are the ideal choice if you often sleep on your back or breathe through your lips since they provide a seal over both your mouth and nose. Doctors often suggest full face masks if you use high pressure settings for your sleep apnea treatment. Since a full face mask is larger than other CPAP mask designs, it indirectly provides air more, making treatment more tolerable.
Full-face CPAP masks may also have disadvantages. Due to the size and weight of the mask, it may be more probable for air to leak out, especially at the top; it may be hard to wear glasses; and it may be unpleasant or challenging to sleep in positions other than your back.
CPAP nasal pillow masks
Instead of a full mask covering your mouth and nose, nasal pillow masks use two small prongs inserted into each nostril to supply air. Frequently, a strap that wraps snugly over your head without being unpleasant holds the nasal prongs in place. Usually, nasal pillows are linked to the machine via flexible tubing.
Since they cover less of their face, nose pillows are often preferred by people, especially claustrophobic people. One of the many extra advantages of nasal cushion masks is the ability to wear glasses with these types of masks.
- Lessening the need to shave if your facial hair prevents you from using other masks
- The mask doesn’t hide your eyes so you can see everything in your field of vision
However, not everyone enjoys the advantages of nasal pillow masks. Since air is pushed straight into your nostrils, nasal pillow masks with high pressure settings may be uncomfortable. Furthermore, these masks are more likely to dry up your nostrils, which might cause nosebleeds.
While nasal masks just cover your nose, nasal pillow masks insert prongs into your nostrils. Instead, a nasal mask that is secured over both nostrils by a strap around your head is employed. This kind of mask is popular among those who suffer from sleep apnea since it comes in a variety of fits and sizes. In addition to enabling you to sleep on your side, nose masks offer the benefits of being able to provide air at higher pressures than nasal pillow masks.
Nasal masks, like any other CPAP mask, may not always be the ideal choice for you. Nasal masks are not a good option for those who mouth breathe because they interfere with the seal and airway pressure that the mask provides.
If you often have sinus infections, colds, allergy problems, or any other diseases that make breathing through your nose difficult, a nasal mask may not be able to deliver your medication effectively.
Although you are the only one who can decide which CPAP mask is ideal for you, assessing the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of mask is a great place to start. If you have any concerns about CPAP masks or your sleep apnea therapy, your doctor can provide you more information and help you decide which sleep apnea treatment option is best for you.