CPAP Mask Sizing Guide and Maintenance
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks and headgear come in many styles and sizes to comfortably treat your sleep apnea. Everyone has different needs and face shapes, so you may need to research a variety of masks before finding the right one for you. If you have been a particular size from in one manufacturer CPAP nose mask that doesn’t mean you’ll be the same size in others.
Here’s a look at a few masks and possible benefits of each. Work closely with your doctor and CPAP mask suppliers to make sure you have a mask that suits your needs and fits you.
Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks
CPAP Nasal Pillows have become very popular in the last few years. Like nasal masks they are recommended for use by patients who sleep with their mouths closed and are able to exhale through the nares. Nasal pillows are very small in size and have two flexible pieces, similar two a mushroom cap. The pillows fit gently into the nostrils and attach to an adaptor that fastens to the CPAP tubing. Rather than wearing a triangular mask that rests on the upper lip, nose, or cheeks. Users that suffer from allergies to interface materials, claustrophobia, patients with mustaches and beards as well as those who have a narrow nose bridge and shorter faces normally prefer nasal pillows to a mask because the pillows do not rest directly on the above mentioned areas.
Innovative devices have been designed for patients requiring positive ventilation therapy that allows the user freedom to speak, eat, drink, and wear eyeglasses without removing the device. The under nose reservoir is positioned across the patient’s upper lip with the nasal inserts positioned in patient’s nares. The tubing drapes comfortably over the patient’s ears similar to that of a nasal cannula, thus stabilizing the under nose reservoir with the extremely lightweight “Y” coupling that rests on the patients chest, eliminating the need for uncomfortable straps and headgear. A Pillow Mask will normally consist of a durable plastic frame that supports the soft nasal pillow cushions that attaches to adjustable headgear.
If you have been prescribed a CPAP setting of 10 cmh20 or higher, CPAP Nasal Pillows are not recommended. Experienced CPAP users agree a Nasal Mask is a more comfortable option.
Nasal Pillow Advantages:
Nasal pillows are the least bulky way of delivering CPAP, and may certainly be the best choice for those who sleep on their tummy. As there is no mask over the bridge of the nose, glasses can be worn with nasal pillows. This, along with a better field of vision due to reduced bulk mean that patients who like to read or watch television whilst using CPAP often like this design. Nasal pillows do not rely on a seal being formed around the face, so if you are a very ‘active’ sleeper they may work really well. They are also the only effective choice for patients with facial hair.
Nasal Pillow Drawbacks:
The required air is blown directly up into the nostrils as a jet. If a high pressure of CPAP is needed, this can be uncomfortable for the patient. As well as the feeling of a jet of air hitting the back of the nose, nasal pillows can cause drying of the nose and even nosebleeds. As with nasal masks, this may not be the ideal choice of mouth breathers, although again nasal pillows can sometimes be provided with a chin strap to encourage the jaw to stay shut and breathing through the nose.
Nasal CPAP Masks
Nasal Masks are the most popular masks used by CPAP patients. They are triangular in shape and rest gently over the nose, accompanied by a forehead strap and or pad that rest above the eyebrow giving added stability. If your CPAP setting is 10 cmh20 and higher the nasal mask is recommended. The Nasal Mask is suggested for CPAP users that sleep with their mouths closed and are able to exhale through the nares. The Nasal Mask is easy to use and comfortable while providing a constant stream of pressurized air that keeps the user’s airway from collapsing, thus minimizing the possibility of apneas. The smaller interface is often preferred over a Full Face Mask. Patients that find the Nasal pillows uncomfortable at higher pressures will find Nasal Masks to deliver a more comfortable and beneficial Sleep Therapy Treatment.
A Nasal Mask will normally consist of a durable plastic frame that supports a soft nasal pillow that attaches to adjustable headgear.
Remember, even if you don’t mouth breathe, you may still be experiencing mask leaks. Any leak may contribute to decreased treatment effectiveness and consequently create symptoms of poor therapy and health. Speak with one of our associates today if you suspect a leak.
Nasal Mask Advantages:
Nasal masks are less bulky than full face masks. They may be better tolerated by people who are claustrophobic – although some do not like the contact between the nose and mouth along the upper lip. Nasal masks can achieve quite high CPAP pressures without causing discomfort. Nasal masks are made in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes so most people will be able to find a mask which fits them perfectly.
Nasal Mask Drawbacks:
Nasal masks are still quite bulky, and may not work well for tummy sleepers. As the mask fits over the bridge of the nose, it cannot be worn with glasses, so people who like to read or watch television before going to bed may not like this design. In addition, people with facial hair will find that the mask cannot generate a seal so will not work well, If you suffer with difficulty breathing through your nose, this will not be the best choice for you, as the air is delivered only through the nose.
Full Face CPAP Mask
Full Face Masks cover both your nose and mouth. If you mouth breathe or have mouth leaks, then a Full Face Mask will provide a number of benefits over a nasal mask. A full face mask will prevent air loss that can compromise treatment, and offer a resolution to dry throat and nose problems. If you mouth breathe or have leaks, you will not be receiving your full treatment pressure with a Nasal Mask, consequently you may not be getting the full benefits of your Sleep Therapy Treatment.
A Full Face Mask will normally consist of a durable plastic frame that supports a soft inner cushion that with minimal pressure rest against the face. The head gear is available with with few points of contact to the face or with forehead straps.
Remember, even if you don’t mouth breathe, you may still be experiencing mouth and mask leaks. Any leak may contribute to decreased treatment effectiveness and consequently create symptoms of poor therapy and health. Speak with one of our associates today if you suspect a leak.
Full Face Mask Advantages:
Full face masks are the only masks to deliver air through the mouth so are ideal for people who have difficulty breathing through their nose – such as those with frequent nasal infections or a deviation of the nasal septum (cartilage ‘wall’ that runs down the inside of the middle of the nose). Full face masks are also excellent for people who need high CPAP pressure as air is channelled through both the nose and the mouth.
Full Face Mask Drawbacks:
This is the biggest type of CPAP face mask. Some people may not like the bulky nature of the design – particularly those who sleep on their tummy, or people who tend to feel claustrophobic. Because of its size it needs to create a seal over the largest area, and can therefore be more likely to leak. In particular some users find they may get a leak around the bridge of the nose, which allows air to flow up around the eyes causing the eyes to dry out. Facial hair a beard or mustache) is likely to stop the mask forming a good seal.