How-To Guide: Picking The Right CPAP Mask

November 25, 2019

How-To Guide: Picking The Right CPAP Mask

Many people diagnosed with OSA by a sleep specialist use CPAP therapy as a form of treatment in the hopes of getting a more restorative night’s rest. You may know that CPAP equipment is a vital part of this therapy. But you may not know exactly what you should be looking for when buying CPAP equipment. 

Our how-to guide will help you understand the different kinds of CPAP masks available so that you can make an informed purchase decision. 


What To Look For In A CPAP Mask? 

Like with shoes or the right pair of pants, sleep apnea masks are not a “one size fits all” kind of product. 

While your CPAP vendor may have walked you through the type of CPAP machine model you will need for your obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, choosing a sleep apnea mask does come down more to preference and other factors such as your sleeping position. 

When looking for a CPAP mask it is important to ask yourself a number of questions such as: 

  • Do you sleep with your mouth open? 
  • Do you change positions a lot when you sleep? 
  • Do you have facial hair?
  • Is the skin on your face easily irritated? 

All of these questions can help guide you towards a style of mask that will suit your needs while still providing comfort when sleeping at night. 

 

Sleep Apnea Masks: The Different Types You Can Choose From 

There are three main types of CPAP masks:

  • Full face masks
  • Nasal masks
  • Nasal pillow masks 

Full Face Masks 


Full face CPAP masks seal are held in place by four-point headgear and are designed to seal around the nose and mouth. If you are someone who prefers to sleep on their backs, a full face mask may be the best option for you.

Resmed AirFit F30 is a great example of a comfortable full face CPAP mask

If any of the following applies to you, then a full face mask may be a good choice: 

  • You are a back sleeper
  • You breathe primarily through your mouth
  • You’ve been prescribed a high CPAP pressure

Full face masks are often recommended for those who naturally sleep with their mouths open or who suffer from chronic sinus issues and find it hard to breathe through their nose. This is because this mask allows CPAP airflow to be delivered through both the nose and the mouth. 

If you tend to sleep more on your back, this mask will also be a better choice for you. This is mainly due to the fact that full face can be bulkier than that of other options so don’t allow for easy tossing and turning. 

Additionally, If you have been prescribed a high CPAP pressure, the wide surface area of the mask makes the pressure more tolerable and less direct, especially when you are new to CPAP therapy. 

Full-face masks such as the Resmed AirFit F30, which has been newly redesigned, will enjoy increased sightlines aiding in the ease of wear. Additionally, the new material used is much lighter and more comfortable to wear than older models. 

It has become a popular choice among many OSA patients. This is mainly due to its minimal contact design with an UltraCompact cushion under the nose leading to fewer facial marks and the use of Resmed QuietAir elbow technology, providing a quieter and less disrupted sleep. 

Nasal Masks

Nasal CPAP masks are a popular choice for many OSA patients due to their minimal design

Nasal masks are a popular choice among many OSA patients due to their minimal design. These masks are designed to only cover the nose so it takes up less surface space than that of full face masks. 

Nasal masks also come in many different styles making them suitable for a wide range of face shapes. For nasal masks, air delivery is more direct and high pressure because there is less surface area for the air to move around in. If you move around a lot or tend to sleep on your side, this is another reason nasal masks can be a great choice. 

However, they also have their downsides. If you experience colds or blocked sinuses often, using a nasal mask could be a problem in the delivery of the required air pressure. Also, if you are a mouth breather, you would need to wear a chin strap to keep your jaw closed. 

If you think that a nasal mask could be the right choice for you, consider the Dreamwisp Nasal Mask by Philips Respironics. Its revolutionary top of the head mask design not only provides stability for comfort but also greater freedom of movement by keeping tubing out of the way. This mask also comes with all sizes of nasal cushions making it an easy fit for all OSA patients. 

Nasal Pillow Masks 

Nasal pillow masks are the smallest and most lightweight CPAP masks on the market. If you are worried about a mask being too cumbersome, this is a great choice. If you also have a tendency to feel claustrophobic, this also proves as a good option. 

Nasal pillow masks blow pressurized air through two soft nasal tubes that insert into the nostrils. Many OSA patients who buy a nasal pillow mask comment on having fewer problems with leakage because the airflow is direct. Their minimal design does make it easier to read and watch TV at bedtime but due to its thinner headgear, there is a higher risk for the mask to shift.

Nasal pillow masks such as the Swift FX Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask are ultra-minimal due to it being designed to cover as little as the face as possible

Nasal pillow masks such as the Swift FX Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask are ultra-minimal due to it being designed to cover as little as the face as possible and is known for being quiet (which is a great feature if you share a bed). Also, nasal pillow masks, like this one, are great for travelling due to how compact they are. Additionally, if you have facial hair, this style is a good option as it means your facial hair won’t cause any leakage to your CPAP therapy. 

One thing to keep in mind, if you have been prescribed a CPAP machine with a high air pressure level, a nasal pillow mask could be uncomfortable. This is because of the amount of air that’ll need to pass directly into your nostrils.


The Positive Benefits Of Having The Right CPAP Machine & Mask

In order for CPAP therapy to be successful, you need to have the right mask. If your mask isn’t comfortable you risk compromising the quality and effectiveness of your therapy, either by having mask leakages or not sleeping correctly at night. 

With the right CPAP mask, not only will you get a more restorative night of sleep, but you’ll also receive the benefits of effective CPAP therapy. Some of these benefits include improved daytime energy levels, concentration levels and even mood stability. 

Keep in mind that starting CPAP therapy is a learning curve. Don’t be surprised if some trial and error is needed at first with your CPAP mask. Not all CPAP therapy patients get their choice of mask right on the first try. Patience is required but the benefits that you receive of CPAP therapy always outweigh the challenges of picking the right equipment. 

Browse our CPAP store to find the mask that’s right for you. Not happy with your choice? See our tips for what to do if you hate your sleep apnea mask.





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