Buying the perfect CPAP mask isn’t easy. A lot of times, you might think you’ve picked the right one, then you take it home and find it sucks. It happens. More often than you think, actually. Masks are made to fit the average face, but that doesn’t mean they’re always a perfect fit. But with a little bit of research and some insider information, not only can you find yourself the best fitting mask, you might be able to return that ill-fitting one you can’t bear to wear another night.
Do plenty of research
There are 3 general styles of CPAP mask. Which style mask did you get? Nasal pillow? Nasal mask? Full face mask? Each one of them caters to a specific type of sleep position and facial structure. So, for example, if you’re a side or stomach sleeper, you probably won’t be too comfortable in a full face mask. If you haven’t already, click here for a description of the different styles of masks.
Go back to your CPAP store/provider
Armed with some knowledge and a list of questions you now have, go back to your CPAP provider and ask to see if they can exchange it for you. Make sure you follow each CPAP vendor’s exchange policy as they all have various timeframes for exchanges (standard is about a month). Be prepared: some sellers won’t take it back if the mask has been used or the packaging has been opened. (But between us, if you make a good enough case, they might bend that rule. Just remember to be polite and not lose your cool).
Ask a lot of questions
This is a major purchase. If you’re the kind of shopper that asks a million questions about the cheese you’re about to buy, why wouldn’t you be extra curious about something you’ll be wearing for a third of your life?! Ask which mask style is best for your sleeping position, and ask to try on a bunch of them before you decide. Wear it for a while. Try lying down with it. Does it smush your face? How does it compare to other masks? A lot of people expect to try on a mask and have it fit like an old pair of slippers - this will likely never happen. What you’re looking for is a mask that feels the most comfortable to you compared to other masks. Remember: CPAP masks are made to be as unobtrusive as possible, but that doesn’t mean they’re fun to wear.
Does the clinician know what they're talking about?
A good CPAP Clinician is a God-send! These people are professionals, but a good, patient one is a keeper. A knowledgeable clinician can tell you all the pros and cons of any given masks and let you try them on and test them out.
Returns & exchanges
It's important to note, if you’re buying your mask online, KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU ORDER. Online stores can offer deep discounts - especially on masks. But a lot of them don’t accept returns or exchanges. You want to shop online for a deal - when you already know which mask is best for you, or if you’re replacing a mask that you’ve already used and love.
Get loads of recommendations
If you have friends and family who are on CPAP, ask them what they like. There’s nothing better than asking someone who’s already gone through the process and learned a thing or two. Look into that recommendation while you shop and see if those masks are right for you. The process can take a bit of work, but anything good in life requires some heavy lifting. Just know that at the end of the process, you've learned so much more about CPAP masks and more importantly you'll be much more successful with therapy and sleeping.
There is a wealth of information online waiting to be tapped. Read reviews on CPAP blogs and forums where people share their experience based on their own differences: machine pressure, if they have facial hair, have a big nose or sleep on their sides. Watch YouTube videos on product and user reviews that can guide you in making the right selection. Once you know which style may work for you, you can narrow down your search. We recommend looking for newer masks compared to ones that may be out for a couple of years. Technology is improving masks by the day and the newer ones are being designed with better materials that fix a lot of comfort and performance issues.
And when you find something that works - stick it with! Consider buying one or two back-ups. Because you never know when a mask will be discontinued. Sleep tight!
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