Finding the Right CPAP Mask
The mask for your CPAP machine will be one of the main components of your CPAP therapy. CPAP masks are placed over your mouth or nose and send pressurized air into your airways. Choosing the right CPAP mask will be imperative to the effectiveness of your continuous positive airway therapy.
There are a lot of mask types, shapes, and sizes on the market. With that said, sometimes the options can seem overwhelming, but it also means with the proper research, you are sure to find the perfect mask for your facial profile and sleep apnea needs.
To find the perfect sleep apnea mask, you will need to find a mask that matches your sleeping habits, breathing needs, and feels comfortable. The sleep experts at Emerald Sleep Disorders Center will help you find the perfect CPAP mask.
Types of CPAP Masks
There are three main types of CPAP masks. Each type of mask has unique benefits, depending on what you need.
Benefits of Nasal Pillows
Do you prefer a more lightweight design that allows you to move around while sleeping? Nasal pillow masks are one of the most popular mask options for CPAP patients. Nasal pillows have a minimal design, meaning they are much more lightweight and comfortable than other masks.
Nasal pillows are placed over your upper lip, then blow pressurized air through nasal tubes that go into the nostrils, and they are held in place with straps that go over the back of your head. With a nasal pillow, you will be able to watch tv, read, and have a better field of vision before bed. They are also a good choice for patients with claustrophobia or that dislike heavy materials on their face.
You will also be able to wear glasses, since nasal pillows do not require material over the bridge of their nose. Since nasal pillows require direct airflow into the nostrils, there is less leakage of air, especially for patients with a lot of facial hair, which can cause leaks in other masks.
Cons of Nasal Pillows
Nasal pillows are not a good option for patients requiring higher pressure air pressure, since the direct contact to the nasal passage can become uncomfortable at high pressure settings. The direct pressure to the nostrils can sometimes dry your nose out, and in rarer cases lead to nosebleeds. Nasal pillows are also not a good idea for mouth-breathers. If you are not used to breathing through your nose, a nasal pillow can feel uncomfortable. If you are a mouth breather, it will be a good idea to wear a chin-strap to keep your mouth closed.
Benefits of Nasal Masks
Nasal masks are a triangular shaped mask that fits over your nose, covering from the bridge all the way down to the upper lip. Nasal masks are common amongst CPAP users, since they come in a range of sizes and fits. They make it easy to find a mask that is user friendly.
Unlike nasal pillows, nasal masks offer a more natural air pressure that is not directly administered to the airway. Nasal pillows are more effective for high-pressure settings, and they can accommodate a range of facial structures. The suction from nasal pillows also allow you to move around while sleeping without becoming unsuctioned.
Cons of Nasal Masks
Like nasal pillows, nasal masks are not a good option for mouth breathers. They can also become uncomfortable, since there is an increased pressure from the mask suctioning to the bridge of the nose. This mask is also not recommended for patients medical conditions, like deviated septums, collapsed nasal valves, or enlarged turbinates.
Benefits of Full Face Masks
As the name implies, full face masks cover the entirety of the CPAP users’ mouth and nose. Full face masks are held up by side straps and under the chin straps. Full face masks are a good idea for CPAP users that have nasal obstructions, frequent allergies, colds, or congestion symptoms.
Patients that deal with claustrophobia also benefit from full face masks, since they are suctioned onto the outside of the face. Full face masks work well for patients that need a high pressure of airflow, since they are less direct than other masks. Full face masks tend to work better for patients that sleep on their backs.
Cons of Full Face Mask
Unfortunately, full face masks tend to have a higher chance of leaking, since they cover a larger surface area of the face. Some patients also complain about masks causing dry eyes, while making it virtually impossible to watch TV, read, or wear glasses before bed. They can also make it uncomfortable for patients that like to sleep on their stomachs.
Things to Keep in Mind with CPAP Therapy
Getting used to your CPAP machine will take some time. It is important to remind yourself about the health benefits of your CPAP therapy and continue to use your treatment through any initial discomfort. Depending on your unique needs, you might have to give and take when choosing a sleep apnea mask. If your CPAP therapy is so uncomfortable that it impedes on your sleep, then we recommend telling your sleep specialist immediately.
At Emerald Sleep Disorders Center, we will prescribe you the appropriate CPAP mask for a comfortable fit. Call us today and get on the path to healthier sleep at 541-683-3325.