As the last few days of 2014 wind down we take a look back at some of the new and top rated CPAP masks that came on the market in 2014 and a look at what’s to come in 2015. Finding the right mask for you can be a long and hard process of elimination and some people recently diagnosed with sleep apnea may still be struggling to find an interface that is comfortable to wear and effective in allowing them to sleep throughout the night. While the mask itself is only a piece of the puzzle, it is a “corner piece” and important in the overall adherence to therapy. So what factors do we consider when ranking CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks? Overall mask comfort through cushion design and weight, sealing, durability and price point.
Most people prescribed therapy are often given a prescription for a certain make and model selected by either their sleep technician or physician. A sleep technologist may use a wide assortment of masks during your titration and ultimately select the one that promoted the best seal and treatment results the night of the study. Sleep physician may be brand loyal and simply stick to one manufacturer that they work with. Regardless of how you ended up with your original mask you may not be as happy with it as the person that selected it for you. For this reason we provide our expert feedback about what’s new and what is worth trying.
Over the past few years the nasal pillow styles of interfaces have seen the most growth in popularity. The pillow mask is best described as a minimal contact interface that incorporates silicone or gel inserts that seal around the nostril area and use a single or 2 point headgear strap system. These masks first made their presence a few years ago to satisfy the claustrophobic and anxiety patient market. Compliance, an industry buzzword that describes those of you that use your CPAP versus those that do not, is the prize all manufacturers are trying to win and the amount of “reboots” and new
The Swift FX (my personal favorite) series has dominated the pillow style market for a few years and have been voted best CPAP mask by 1800CPAP.com customers. The “For Him” and Swift FX for Her versions are still user favorites and while they are “reboots” of Mirage Swift series they have in their own right changed the landscape of pillow styles. The new generation is the AirFit™ family of masks and the pillow style is the P10 and P10 for Her. A 2 point harness system assures the mask stays in place and without the headgear slipping or riding up. The cushion inserts are color coded by size and available in sizes X-small through large with left and right labeled dual wall pillows. This mask is sure to give the FX series a run for its money.
2014 brought us the Nuance Pro and Nuance Gel that offers a silicone gel style cushion insert and 2 optional mask frames, one gel and one silicone. Respironics was wise to play off the popularity of the “Comfort Gel Blue” style that a user would think it must be the most comfortable feeling cushion. The 2013 GoLife for Men and GoLife for Women masks are still a popular choice among CPAP users however many of those users are switching away from the harder plastic style frame to the softer gel frame system.
The Pilairo Q with 2 adjustable headgears is the modified version of the original Pilairo. This mask boasts a one size fit all replaceable cushion that eliminates the need to be fitted, however most nasal pillow style mask offer a full set of insert sizes that allow the user to fit themselves and switch between sizes as needed. A short tube from the mask connects to any standard hose as well as heated tubing. This mask is the successor to the Opus 360, a model that is still currently available.
2013 and 2014 saw a growth of the pillow style and likewise many other manufacturers developed models to compete against some of the manufacturers listed above. The Mr. and Ms. Wizard 230 by Apex medical is capturing a share of the market with its lightweight design and low price point ($79.00). Those not tied down to major manufacturers and open to trying something new should be highly satisfied with this mask. Design wise one could say that it takes certain elements from some of the top rated models and combines them with other elements to make a “cross-breed”.
Full face style masks cover the nose and mouth of sleep apnea sufferers and are great options for a wide range of people that cannot solely breathe through their nose only. Some of the different reasons someone would need to use a full face would include deviated septum, have been prescribed higher pressure of CPAP or use a bi-level (BiPAP) device, loss of muscle tone that causes mouth to fall open during the night, or feeling like your are not getting enough air when on a nasal style. Though full masks do offer a variety of pros, there are some cons such as the fact that they cover more surface area which makes them more prone to mask leak and their cushions must be cleaned thoroughly to prevent leaks and irritation.
The F10 AirFit series full face (for him and her) and the Quattro Air are the latest models from ResMed and have proved to be great successors to the Mirage Quatrro and Quattro FX family of full face. These new masks offer a lighter weight frame and magnetic headgear clips that make it easier to attach and detach if you need to get up during the night. The AirFit™ family has replaced the Mirage and FX families however ResMed will continue to make and provide parts and accessories to those families for the years to come.
The Simplus mask made its way to the shelves at 1800CPAP.com in 2014 and the buzz about this mask was high. The Forma had been the most popular Fisher and Paykel full face mask for some time and though it was a popular seller, the design to fit below the chin has always had mixed reviews from users new to trying this model. Many people dedicated to the Forma brand were happily surprised when they changed to the Simplus model.
The Amara full face had a reboot in 2014 that included a silicone gel cushion option. Philips Respironics recognizing that the blue gel used in many of their different mask style and cushions was a visually appealing attribute that leads many people to select their products. In other words, it just looks comfortable. The Amara has been out for a couple of years now with a standard silicone cushion, this blue gel cushion pumped more life into a product that had trouble gaining traction against the ComfortGel Blue (their own product) and other manufacturers models.
Nasal masks were the most popular style prescribed for years but have lost market share to people that either NEED a full face or WANT the comfort of a nasal pillow. The market I still there for people that cannot tolerate the inserts of a pillow cushion or dislike the bulky invasiveness of a full face. The nasal style simply covers the nose area and is held in place usually by a 4 point headgear harness with some type of forehead support. Like all other styles, parts and components like cushion and headgear can be replaced as needed.
Most everyone has seen the ComfortGel nasal CPAP mask, one of the all time best sellers (most likely because it was prescribed most by sleep doctors) however the original model was discontinued for the new ComfortGel Blue (now on the market for a couple of years) however many people that liked the original were not happy with the Blue. The TrueBlue was another Respironics interface that followed the Comfort series but has only had moderate sales most likely due to the popularity of the Wisp. The Wisp is the highlighted nasal mask of this category and recommended as far as nasal masks go. It also offer a cloth or silicone frame and available in cushions from size petite through extra large.
The Nano and AirFit N10 are the latest models of ResMed family and have big shoes to fill from the reputation of Mirage FX and SoftGel series. The Nano is very similar to the Swift FX nasal pillow in regards to headgear and design with the only significant difference being the cushion encompasses the entire nose versus the Swift FX inserts into the nose. The N10 offers magnetic headgear clips that secure the mask in place and has a short tube assembly that connects to any standard or heated tubing system. The headgear on this mask is minimal and lightweight
The Eson is the newest model and has been outperforming the sales of the Zest and Zest Q, a long time staple of the F&P line. No bells and whistles to describe about this mask. It is your standard triangle shaped nasal that provides a good seal in a lightweight frame. The Zest Q series (Q for quiet) offers a version called the Lady Zest made for women.
In recent years we have seen an increase in the amount of interfaces that made their way into the market with a specific goal of attracting the female users. Many of the top manufacturers are making 2 versions of the same mask with minimal changes to the color (usually pink) and sizing options that incorporate smaller options for both cushion and frame. The Swift FX for Her and AirFit P10 for Her are ResMed’s nasal pillow style masks made for women while Philips Respironics offer the GoLife for Women. Fisher and Paykel have shown little involvement in jumping in on the bandwagon and currently offer just the Lady Zest nasal style CPAP mask. For the full face line of masks only the Quattro FX, Quattro Air and F10 offer “For Her” models.
The following masks have been discontinued and are no longer in production. Some of these masks are still available for a limited time while supplies last.