We receive free products to review and participate in affiliate programs from the companies mentioned in this post. It won't cost you an extra dime (in fact you'll usually get a discount), and I'll get a small commission, which is very much appreciated. (Full Disclosure)
The type of apnea mask and sizing could be the most important aspect in the treatment of sleep apnea.
Most Respiratory Therapists agree that the proper apnea mask type and sizing is critical to obtaining CPAP sleep apnea therapy compliance. An uncomfortable mask will not only make it difficult to sleep, but, will make you not want to wear it.
Most patients are initially fitted for an apnea mask at the sleep laboratory. However, CPAP mask sizing can be an imperfect process.
Make sure that you only use a specialized Medical Equipment Professional (usually a Respiratory Therapist) when getting “sized up” for a mask.
Additionally, the specialist need to have been trained by the Mask Manufacturers. It is the only way to ensure that you get a proper fit.
The different types of sleep apnea masks
Listed below are the various cpap mask types that are available today.
Please note, it is very possible that the Sleep Lab where initial testing and fitting takes place may not of had all of these mask types, so check them closely to make sure you have a clear understanding of all of the different mask options.
Nasal or Nose Apnea Mask
This type of mask is held in place with straps or headgear and seals around the entire nose. The Nasal sleep apnea mask is typically recommended for first-time CPAP users.
Most first time CPAP users feel discomfort while wearing masks, so cpap nasal masks are a good substitute for the traditional machines.
With conventional CPAP machines, both the nose and mouth are covered, whereas the cpap nasal pillow is fixed at the nostrils. Thus face remains without any extra fitting which creates discomfort.
As the mouth is free from the mask in the nasal pillow, straps are stuck over the mouth to make sure that the patient breathes through the air tube.
The two types of cpap nasal pillows are extended nasal pillow where it is extended into the nose. In another type cpap nose pillows are fixed at the base of nostrils. Only according to the personal experience the comfortable factor in these types can be revealed.
The most striking feature of cpap nasal pillow than other masks is the means by which the masks are stuck in the head. Though the nasal pillows are placed in such a way that it gives limited movement, these nasal pillows are preferred as it leaves less pressure on the face. The design of this pillow should be placed in a manner it is able to deliver air to the lungs in its best way.
The best known Cpap nasal pillow systems are discussed one by one. The modern Breeze sleep gear Cpap interface is very comfortable for patient to fix when compared to traditional mask headgear machines. It fits on the patient with multiple adjustments and gives option for resizing.
Patients at times interface Breeze sleep gear with Nasal pillows or Dream seal mask. Along with this an arrangement of thick padding gives more comfort for the patient’s pure sleep during night time. BIPAP is another method to treat sleep apnea. It helps to remove extra CO2 retained in the lungs so that the discomfort is relieved.
Mirage swift is one of the light weighted Cpap Nasal pillow systems. The system of mirage swift weighs 70g, so it is placed lightly on the face with more flexibility and comfort. Mirage swift provides easy fitting and removing. Next Respironics invented the first Optilife nasal pillow mask.
The Optilife mask is so simple that it needs only one hand to place it. Then the ResMed nasal pillow mask with Head Gear which has less contact with the face seems to be simple and soft. Even the prong cpap mask with headgear is used for comfort. Mostly claustrophobic users use these Cpap prong machines and also the beneficial cpap chin strap.
Full Face Apnea Mask
It is also held in place with straps or headgear and seals around both the mouth and nose.
The full Face Mask is recommended for people who regularly breathe out of their mouth.
When someone is a “mouth breather”, their mouth stays open during sleep. This causes the CPAP air pressure blowing through the Nasal Mask to escape. Thus, rendering the CPAP sleep apnea therapy ineffective as the pressure meant to hold the airway open flows out of the mouth instead of into the airway.
The Full Face Apnea Mask creates an environment that equalizes the pressure in both the mouth and nose. The Full Face Apnea Mask also works well for someone who suffers from cases of nasal blockage or congestion from common colds or allergies.
Nasal or Nose Cushion Mask
This sleep apnea mask works in a similar fashion to the Nasal Mask using a nose cushion that seals over both nostrils, but it differs in the fact that it also fits under the nose instead of around the nose.
Additionally, the cushion does not rest on the bridge of the nose or fit over tip of the nose. There are numerous sized cushions available for easy fit.
- Nasal pillows: These devices seal against the outside edge of each nostril. The pillows open into the nostril but are not inserted inside. Nasal pillows are useful for people who sleep on their stomach or side, or for those with mustache or beard.
- Nasal Prongs: This device is inserted into each nostril and rather than sealing around the outside edge of the nose, it seals the inside.
- Oral Apnea Mask: This device fits into the mouth to deliver the CPAP air pressure. It is available in only one size and is intended to fit any user. When this device is used, the CPAP air is not conditioned by the mucous membranes in the nose which results in drying out the mouth. As a result, the Oral Mask requires the use of a heated humidifier attached to CPAP Machine.
- Total Face Apnea Mask: This mask works in a similar fashion to a Full Face mask except that it covers every opening on the face in areas where air might leak out. A total face mask makes a seal over the entire area of the face, down the sides, under the chin, and at the forehead. It is exclusively used for someone who sleeps on their back. In fact, this is typically used as a “last resort”.
Apnea Mask Replacement
The good news is that most insurance companies will typically allow for mask cushion replacement every 90 days and a complete new apnea mask system every 6 months.
Typically after six months of use most mask cushions start to deteriorate causing the material in the mask to become too soft to hold a seal.
It is generally recommended that you should replace pillows or cushions as soon as they start to soften.
Additionally, be on the lookout for mask air leaks because they may reduce the effectiveness of CPAP sleep apnea therapy and try to avoid headgear that is too tight which has known to cause facial sores at pressure points.