What CPAP Mask is Best for Me?
For sleep apnea sufferers, choosing the right CPAP mask is just as important as selecting the most effective CPAP machine. If the mask is too loose or doesn't fit your face well, it might leak or come off while you're sleeping. If it's too tight or too bulky, it might be uncomfortable. Different people respond better to different kinds of CPAP masks. But what types of masks are available, and how do you choose the right one for you?
The Different Types of CPAP Masks
These are the types of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks that are available and general recommendations, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Nasal Pillow Mask - This type of mask fits at the nostrils, supplying air pressure. This is a good style if you feel claustrophobic with something over a larger portion of your face. It also provides a wider field of vision for watching TV or reading. With a nasal pillow mask, you can wear glasses. Another reason is that you might have facial hair that interferes with fuller masks.
- Nasal Mask - A nasal mask covers the nose as it supplies air pressure. It's recommended if you have been prescribed a high air pressure setting by your doctor. It's also a better choice if you're a restless sleeper who moves around a lot. If you're an extremely restless sleeper, you might want to try a full-face mask.
- Full-Face Mask - This mask covers the nose and mouth, supplying air pressure. It's a good choice for those with nasal congestion or obstruction. It's also recommended if you breathe through your mouth at night. If you've had trouble with a nasal mask or nasal pillow interface with a heated humidity feature and/or a chin strap to keep your mouth closed, this might be your best option.
Best CPAP Masks for Side Sleepers and Stomach Sleepers
Sleeping on your back can exacerbate breathing problems. However, if you're a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper, using a CPAP mask can be quite a challenge. A less bulky mask will likely be more effective and far more comfortable. Be careful not to sleep with your face completely down in your pillow, since this will cover the CPAP mask's exhalation vent. If these vents are blocked, you'll be breathing back in carbon dioxide. A softer pillow will allow for some space, and there are also special CPAP pillows that you can purchase.
CPAP Therapy for Mouth Breathers
Mouth breathers run the risk of "mouth leak" during therapy, if air seeps out of your mouth. There are a few options to resolve this problem. One is to use a chin strap to keep your mouth closed while using a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask. If that's too uncomfortable and if you suffer from dry mouth when you use these types of CPAP machines, a full-face CPAP mask may be the best choice. This type of mask keeps your mouth and throat moist and it prevents leaks. As per the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), it's also a good option for those who need a higher CPAP pressure level. The higher pressure won't seem as uncomfortable, since the surface area of the mask is larger.
Selecting the Right CPAP Mask Size
In addition to choosing the type of mask, size matters. Make sure you use any sizing guide that is available for the model you're interested in so you get the closest, most comfortable fit available.