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Which CPAP Mask is the Best for You?
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea and you are ready to begin treatment with your CPAP machine, you may be wondering which CPAP mask is the best for you. There are many different styles and sizes of CPAP masks. Because everyone has different needs, preferences and face shapes, finding the right mask can take time. You may need to try a few different CPAP masks to find the right fit for you.
Sleep apnoea is a dangerous and life-threatening disease. If you have completed a sleep self-assessment questionnaire, had your in-home sleep study and have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, it’s most likely you will be treated with CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and it’s the most effective treatment for sleep apnoea and snoring. Treatment is delivered via a CPAP mask attached by a hose to a CPAP machine.
While CPAP therapy is the most effective treatment for snoring and sleep apnoea, it is only effective if you are compliant. That means wearing your CPAP mask for more than 4 hours per night for 70% of nights. That’s the minimum for compliance. The more you wear your mask, the higher your chance of CPAP success.
One of the setbacks to compliance is having a mask that is uncomfortable. This may be because the mask is too tight, not fitted correctly or not suited to your face shape.
To make life easier when choosing a mask, we’ve compiled a rundown of the types of masks available, their features and benefits:
1. Nasal CPAP Mask
Nasal CPAP masks fit from the bridge of your nose to just above your upper lip.
If you need higher pressure settings, the nasal mask may be a good choice for you.
There are many options for style and fit.
Nasal masks are ideal if you:
- Move around a lot in your sleep,
- Need a higher pressure setting as advised by your sleep therapist or doctor
- Suffer from claustrophobia and find that full face masks gives you anxiety.
A nasal mask isn’t for you if you:
- Breathe through your mouth and not your nose. You can still use a nasal mask but you will need to wear a chin strap to keep your jaw and mouth closed.
- Have allergies or a history of regular colds. Blocked sinuses will affect the air pressure.
- Find it hard to breathe through your nose due to a medical condition such as a deviated septum or collapsed or narrow nostrils.
2. Nasal Pillows
A nasal pillow mask fits around the base of your nostrils only. Headgear then holds the mask in place.
Nasal pillows are a good option if you want a mask with a minimal weight that doesn’t cover your face.
Nasal pillows are ideal if:
- The full CPAP mask makes you feel claustrophobic or gives you anxiety.
- You wear your mask while reading or watching TV. The nasal pillow CPAP mask gives a clear line of sight with nothing crossing the bridge of the nose.
- You're having trouble getting a good seal with other CPAP masks due to facial hair, moles or the shape of your face.
A nasal pillow mask isn’t ideal if:
- Your nostrils are easily irritated. Because the mask fits onto your nostrils, it may feel uncomfortable if you have a sensitive nose.
- You require high pressure for your CPAP therapy. Nasal pillows are best for moderate pressure. High-pressure air directed straight into your nostrils may be uncomfortable.
- You're suffering from nosebleeds regularly. The dry air directly in your nostrils may exacerbate nosebleeds.
3. Full face mask
The full face CPAP mask covers both your nose and mouth.
If the mask is fitted correctly, it creates a seal over both airways.
The full face CPAP mask is ideal if you:
- Suffer from nasal congestion, regular colds, allergies or an obstruction that makes breathing through your nose more difficult.
- Breathe mostly through your mouth and you find wearing a chin strap with a nasal mask uncomfortable.
- Sleep mostly on your back. Sleeping on your back creates a better seal with full face masks.
- Require higher CPAP pressure settings.
The full face mask isn’t ideal if you:
- Sleep on your stomach,
- Haven’t fitted your mask correctly. The larger area of the mask means that it is more prone to leaking air if not fitted correctly.
The main things to consider when choosing your CPAP mask is fit, size and comfort. Think about how you sleep including sleeping positions, how restless you are and if you have any medical problems or facial features that may impede your CPAP mask effectiveness.
Finding the right CPAP mask may seem daunting or very frustrating at first. But remember that your CPAP therapy may save your life. Think about the bigger picture and how much your health, relationships, and well-being will improve.
If your CPAP therapy isn’t going well it may be your mask that’s getting in the way of your compliance.
If you are having a difficult time finding a CPAP mask that fits correctly and that you are happy with, it’s worth speaking up. Contact your sleep therapist to discuss your needs today.