When it comes to treating obstructive sleep apnea, many people focus on the CPAP machines themselves. There’s no denying the difference a quality CPAP machine can make. By providing a continuous flow of pressurized air throughout the night, it can keep your airways from collapsing so that you don’t experience nighttime sleep interruptions.
But just as important as the machine itself is the CPAP mask you use alongside it.
There are several important factors to consider to help you choose the right CPAP mask for your needs. There’s no one size fits all answer — the right mask ultimately depends on your preferences. Finding a good fit ensures that you won’t experience air leaks or other issues that could compromise the effectiveness of your treatment.
Here’s how you can select the right mask.
Understanding the Different Types of CPAP Masks
There are three primary types of CPAP masks that are used for sleep apnea treatment:
Full face masks cover the nose and mouth. They are the bulkiest of masks, but are recommended for people who breathe through their mouth during sleep. Recently, more minimalist designs have been introduced to reduce feelings of claustrophobia or vision impairment when using these masks.
Nasal masks are the most commonly used type of CPAP masks. These are small triangular masks that cover the nose, and are held in place with various pads and straps. These masks are best for people who breathe through their nose and keep their mouths closed while asleep.
Finally, nasal pillow systems are the smallest type of mask. The nasal pillows are inserted into the nostrils. Their small size makes them a popular choice for people who might feel claustrophobic with a larger mask. They are also considered a good choice for individuals with a narrow nose bridge or other facial features that might cause a nasal mask or full face mask to leak.
Your sleep position can play a significant role in determining the type of mask that will work best for you. How you sleep could press the mask against your face in a way that feels uncomfortable or causes air to leak.
If you sleep on your side, nasal pillows and nasal masks are generally considered best. Nasal pillows maintain their seal regardless of how your head rests against the pillow. For users of larger nasal masks, a soft, adjustable headgear should be used instead of a hard plastic headgear to maintain a quality seal.
Those who sleep on their back tend to be at greater risk of sleep apnea events, but can also choose from any style of mask. Full face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillows all work effectively for this sleep position, and are unlikely to become dislodged.
Sleeping on one’s stomach is relatively rare, and can be tough to manage with a CPAP mask. Nasal pillows are considered the best option for stomach sleepers, as they won’t press into your face and neck as much, nor are they likely to become dislodged. If you need to use another mask, you may need to get a different pillow to accommodate the mask.
Another factor to consider is whether you roll around during your sleep. If you switch your sleeping position throughout the night, you should ensure the mask will perform well even as you roll around. Masks that use tubes that go up or over the top of the head are typically recommended in such situations.
Aside from selecting the right type of mask for your needs, you must also ensure that your CPAP mask is the right size. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard for mask sizes. Some manufacturers offer a variety of sizing choices, while other masks come packaged with several different cushion sizes so you can find the right fit for your face.
Generally speaking, the measurements that matter most for mask sizing are the length from the bridge to the base of your nose, the widths of your nose base and bridge, the size of your upper lip, your head circumference, and the distance between your eyes.
Many manufacturers will provide a sizing gauge that helps you take these measurements, as well as provide measurement ranges for different mask sizes. The right size will rest more comfortably on your face and greatly reduce the risk of air leaks and other problems.
Finally, remember that even with a properly sized mask, you will need to adjust the straps after you put it on. The straps should be tightened to the point where they provide a good seal without feeling uncomfortable against your skin.
Finding the Right Fit
Even when you consider these factors in choosing a CPAP mask, you may still experience issues with your new mask. Excessive air leaks, sores on your face, or an uncomfortable fit aren’t things you should be forced to endure. These issues can actually keep your CPAP therapy from working. If you have concerns about your mask, consult with your sleep doctor to try to find a different mask that works for you.
If you’re looking for a high-quality CPAP mask at a great price, No Insurance Medical Supplies can help. We offer full face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillow systems from leading brands such as ResMed, Fisher & Paykel, and 3B Medical. Many of our masks are available at significant discounts off of MSRP. We also offer a variety of replacement components, such as cushions, pillows, frames, and headgear.
With No Insurance Medical Supplies on your side, you’ll have no trouble finding the right mask for your sleep apnea therapy!