Sleep apnea is becoming a huge health problem and many life threatening health issues are associated with the condition. From high blood pressure, to acid reflux, it’s now understood that it is important to diagnose sleep apnea as soon as possible.
A common and recommended treatment for sleep apnea involves the use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask. Studies have shown that using your CPAP more than four hours per night leads to improvement, however many people stop using their therapy because of an uncomfortable or inappropriate mask type.
For this reason, it’s important to work with your clinician and choose your mask wisely. Here are a few facts about the popular types of masks that can help with making the right choice.
If you are concerned about the quality of your sleep start with taking our sleep apnea quiz here.
Some General CPAP Facts
There are features that are common among all CPAP masks. The mask must fit snugly on the face so that air doesn’t leak out. Headgear comes with the mask to keep in in place and accessories such as chin straps are available to help keep the mouth closed during sleep. Tubing connects to a delivery system and most masks come with replaceable parts. Many styles are available in both male and female designs!
The Nasal Pillow
A smaller mask, the nasal pillow rests above the upper lip and seals on the outer edge of the nostrils rather than over the nose. The headgear is often less obtrusive and allows for more line of sight. If you watch TV at night, or like to read in bed, this is definitely a benefit of this mask. It works for nose breathers and people who toss and turn at night and may be the best option for those who have facial hair. It may not be a good choice for people with tender nostrils or sensitive nasal passages.
This mask is worn over the nose, so it is the best choice for those who breathe through their nose. The general perception is that the pressure is delivered less directly, and feels more like breathing regular air. People who toss and turn or sleep on their sides may prefer this mask. Additionally, anyone who has nasal or sinus problems such as a deviated nasal septum, allergies, or colds may find this mask uncomfortable.
The Full Face Mask
This style of mask has the largest footprints covering the top of the bridge of the nose to underneath the lower lip sealing both the mouth and nose. It is the largest mask, but useful for people who breathe through their mouths. It may also be a good choice for people who require a higher CPAP setting.
On the other side of things, it’s most likely not a good choice for people who sleep on their stomachs or for those who have facial hair.
Not only is a CPAP mask the most intimate part of your CPAP therapy, getting the proper mask can determine the effectiveness of the therapy. Make sure you have a mask that is properly fitted to suit your sleeping habits.
If you are considering CPAP therapy, and would like to take home a sleep study test, book an appointment with Provincial Sleep Group here.