If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may need to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine keeps your airways open, allowing you to receive the oxygen you need to get a restful sleep.
In addition to improving the quality of your sleep, CPAP machines can also help you live longer as they reduce your risk of suffering from life-threatening diseases such as heart failure.
A CPAP machine works with a CPAP tube and a CPAP mask to make your therapy effective.
Getting the right mask is crucial if you want to get quality CPAP therapy.
Unfortunately, one of the most common problems among CPAP therapy patients is an ill-fitting and uncomfortable mask. A loose mask will leak pressurized air and can also irritate your skin and eyes.
When choosing a CPAP mask, it’s important to consider the different types of masks available and who they’re ideal for.
Notably, CPAP masks come in three basic types.
What Are CPAP Nasal Masks?
Nasal masks are one of the three mask options for sleep apnea therapy patients. They’re the most commonly used masks among sleep apnea patients, and they’re also referred to as oronasal masks.
Nasal masks are available in two types:
- BiPAP nasal masks
- CPAP nasal masks
Most sleep apnea patients prefer nasal masks because they cover only a small part of the face, they also come in different sizes and styles, and they deliver air less directly to the airways compared to other mask types.
CPAP nasal masks are made of a triangular dome that fits over the bridge of your nose and rests at the upper lip. The mask also comes with headgear and a forehead brace for added stability.
How Do CPAP Nasal Masks Work?
A nasal mask must be used together with a CPAP machine to provide effective CPAP therapy.
Pressurized air from the CPAP machine is pumped through the CPAP tube to the mask’s dome that fits around the nose. The air is distributed in the dome, which allows it to circulate in the mask. Due to this circulation, you’re able to inhale the air less directly into your airways.
Also, since the mask covers the nose only, you only inhale the air through the nose.
Is a CPAP Nasal Mask a Good Choice for You?
A CPAP nasal mask is a good choice for patients who are:
Restless sleepers – People who are active sleepers find that a nasal mask stays in place despite them tossing and turning in their sleep. This is because the nasal mask has a nose brace that keeps it securely in place.
Side sleepers – A nasal CPAP mask is also ideal for side sleepers, as most of them have to deal with mask movement when asleep. Side sleepers may also experience uncomfortable pressure on their cheeks with certain types of CPAP masks. A nasal mask is compact and lightweight and since it only covers the nose, it doesn’t come into contact with the patient’s cheeks.
Nose breathers – This mask is recommended for patients who can comfortably inhale and exhale through their noses while keeping their mouths closed.
Patients who prefer a more natural flow of pressurized air – Since nasal CPAP masks deliver indirect airflow to the airways, they’re ideal for patients who prefer a mask that allows them to feel like they’re breathing in regular air. Besides, this mask distributes the pressurized air more naturally, which allows for more natural airflow.
Patients using a higher pressure setting on their CPAP machine – Compared to a CPAP nasal pillow, nasal masks are recommended for patients who use a higher pressure setting in the range of 10cmH20 to 15cmH20 on their CPAP machines. This is because this mask delivers airflow more naturally to the airways, making high-pressure air more tolerable.
Pros of Nasal Masks
- Comes in many shapes and styles which cater to people with different facial structures and shapes
- Recommended for restless and sides sleepers, as it stays in place
- Ideal for people with severe obstructive sleep apnea, as it can be used with high-pressure settings
- Provides an indirect and more natural airflow
Cons of Nasal Masks
- Not ideal for people with facial hair due to air leaks
- Not ideal for mouth breathers or those with nasal congestion caused by allergies or sinus issues
- Difficult to use for people who wear glasses as it covers the bridge of the nose
Factors to Consider While Shopping for Your Nasal Mask
When shopping for your nasal CPAP mask, remember to consider the below factors if you want to get the right mask.
Mask sizing – There is no standard for CPAP mask sizing. This means that the sizes of the masks differ by brand. This is why it’s important to try on the mask before buying it to know if it is the right size.
Facial features – Although most brands will provide useful sizing choices such as small, medium, large, and extra-large, it's crucial to also consider individual facial features. For instance, some people have a wider nose bridge than others, while others have a smaller upper lip surface area. Considering that you’ll wear your nasal CPAP mask from the bridge of the nose to your upper lip, it’s important to remember about this area when buying the mask.
Fit – Fit is an important factor to consider when choosing your nasal CPAP mask. To determine whether the mask is comfortable and the right fit, use it with your machine. Put it on as you would if you’re asleep and check for any air leaks. Also, ensure the seal fits conveniently on your nose.
Talk to your provider – A CPAP mask provider such as No Insurance Medical Supplies can help you choose the best nasal CPAP mask. Notably, mask sizes differ with different manufacturers, which is why we recommend that you talk to them so that they can advise you accordingly.