CPAP treatment

How to Choose the Right CPAP Mask

AirSense Series of CPAP
A quiet sleeper and a peaceful reader!

Choosing the right CPAP mask does not have to be a frustrating process. This guide describes easy solutions to common problems, and previews all types of CPAP masks so you can find the perfect fit!

Three main types of CPAP masks:

  • Full Face CPAP Masks
  • Nasal CPAP Masks
  • Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks

There are two types of Specialty Masks, as well:

  • Nasal Cradle CPAP Masks
  • Oral CPAP Masks

Solutions to Common Problems

  • CPAP Mask Leaks:

    • Mask leaks are among the most common of CPAP problems you will have.
    • Picking the correct shape and size cushion for your face is the easiest fix for leaks.
    • Replacing the cushion according to the cushion’s lifespan is another. (cushions have a limited lifespan and need replaced accordingly*)
    • Cleaning the cushion on a regular basis will also cut down on leaks.
    • Men with facial hair can experience leaks. This is due to the hair not allowing the cushion to seal to the face properly, especially when using a full face cushion. A nasal or nasal pillow mask may be more beneficial to men with an abundance of facial hair.

 

*to see a specific cushion’s lifespan please check the product’s description on our website or contact 1800CPAP.com directly

 

  • CPAP Mask is Uncomfortable:

    • A cushion that is too big will cause the mask to be uncomfortable.
    • Tight cushions will also lead to discomfort.
    • Mask headgear that is too loose will cause the mask to move and shift, which is annoying.
    • Headgear that is too tight will squeeze your face, also causing discomfort.
    • Dry skin is another cause for discomfort. The cushion may rub over your dry skin and cause irritation.

 

  • CPAP Users Having A Dry mouth:

    • Mouth breathing is the most common reason for a dry mouth.
    • Humidified air will help your mouth retain the moisture.
    • A nasal or nasal pillow mask will not cause a dry mouth, because you breathe nasally or use a chinstrap.

 

  • A User with Nasal Discomfort:

    • A CPAP machine without a humidifier is the most likely culprit for this issue. Dry air going through the nose will cause dryness and lead to an irritated nose.
    • Too much humidification will cause excess condensation, therefore resulting in a runny nose.

 

  • A Mask Coming Off at Night:

    • Loose mask headgear causes the mask to come off or the mask cushion to come unsealed.
    • Mask headgear that is not attached properly will cause the mask to come off while in use.
    • A mask cushion that is the wrong size leads to the CPAP mask coming off, as well.

 

  • Users Feeling Claustrophobic:

    • Claustrophobia is more of a case-by-case issue.
    • Full face masks tend to cause claustrophobia more than the other types.
    • Certain people will experience claustrophobia even with nasal or nasal pillow masks.

Traditional Types of CPAP Masks

Picking the correct type of mask is crucial to your treatment. The shape and size of your face will determine which of the following mask types is right for you. The traditional types of CPAP masks are full face, nasal, and nasal pillow. Review the information below to determine which one is best for you!

Full Face Masks

"ResMed

 

Full face CPAP masks are the largest profile masks on the market. They cover the nose and mouth completely, as a result allowing you to breathe out of either. Some people may find these masks too big or intrusive, but they have some benefits that the other types do not. These masks are great if:

  • You breathe through your mouth:

    • A full face mask is the only option of the three if you are a mouth breather.
    • A nasal or nasal pillow mask would be useless if you breathe through your mouth, because neither of the masks cover that area.

 

  • You require a high pressure setting for the CPAP machine:

    • The full face mask cushions have a wider surface area. A larger area means that the pressure felt from the airflow will be over a greater area, which makes the airflow feel less than it is.
    • Nasal and nasal pillow masks are not as friendly in this aspect. The cushions are smaller and, therefore, give the full effect of the airflow pressure.

  • You experience issues breathing through your nose:

    • Frequent cold or sinus issues can make it difficult for you to benefit from nasal or nasal pillow masks.
    • Surgeries or nose issues like a deviated septum can also make for labored nasal breathing

 

  • You sleep on your back:

    • Sleeping on your back is the perfect position for a full face mask.
    • People that sleep on their backs move less throughout the night, certainly lowering the risk of the mask coming off.

Things to Consider:

  • Higher chance of leaks:

    • Full face masks have a greater surface area.
    • A larger surface area results in a greater chance of a leak. A higher chance of a leak, not that it will happen.

 

  • Irritated or dry eyes:

    • A small leak with a full face cushion can lead to dry eyes, even though your eyes are closed.
    • Full face cushions are large, and lie directly beneath your eyes. Any air that escapes out of the top of the cushion goes up underneath your eyelids, therefore causing irritation.

 

  • Size of the mask:

    • A full face mask is the largest type of CPAP mask.
    • This can be troublesome you if you sleep on your stomach or side because of the bulky nature of the mask.

 

  • Trouble with surroundings:

    • Full face masks cover more of your face.
    • You may find it more difficult to wear glasses, watch TV, or read while wearing a full face mask due to the large size.

 

Nasal Masks

"Philips

Nasal masks are arguably the most common and most revered type of CPAP mask. They are a smaller profile than full face masks, only covering the nose, and are more versatile, as well. These masks can also work well with higher pressure settings. Nasal masks are great if:

  • You move around a lot while you sleep:

    • The nasal masks are not as bulky as the full face masks.
    • Nasal masks allow more shifting and movement during sleep, so therapy is not interrupted.

 

  • You need a higher pressure setting for the CPAP machine:

    • Much like the full face masks, the nasal masks can make a higher setting feel like there is less air pressure.
    • Larger cushions allow more volume of air, therefore you feel less “pressure” through your nose.

 

  • You like a larger selection of masks to choose from:

    • Nasal CPAP masks are the most popular and most commonly used masks.
    • Therefore, nasal masks have the largest selection of brands and styles to choose from.

 

  • You prefer a natural airflow feel:

    • The airflow that comes from a nasal cushion is “indirect” air.
    • Rather than the air being pushed directly into the nostrils, the air fills the cushion and releases into the nostrils at a slower pace.
    • This appeals to people who are opposed to feeling like air is being forced into their nose.

 

Things to Consider:

  • Mouth-breathers:

    • Nasal cushions only utilize the nose due to the nature of the cushion.
    • A person who is mainly a “mouth-breather” will not benefit from a nasal mask.

 

  • Pressure:

    • You may experience pressure on your nose, as a result some possible irritation can arise in the morning.
    • Some nasal masks come with forehead pads that can create pressure on the forehead.

 

  • Chronic allergies or nasal obstructions:

    • Nasal breathing is an issue when nasal airway becomes reduced or blocked from chronic allergies.
    • If you cannot breathe out of your nose a nasal mask becomes an issue.

 

  • Medical conditions:

    • If you have a deviated septum, or narrow/collapsed nasal valve nasal masks may not work for you.
    • People with these conditions may want to consider a full face mask.

 

Nasal Pillow Masks

"ResMed

Nasal pillow masks are a lightweight, non-intrusive form of CPAP masks. These masks are compact, therefore making them an excellent choice if you prefer that. Nasal pillow masks are beneficial if:

  • You toss and turn a lot while sleeping:

    • The nasal pillow masks are more compact than nasal and full face masks.
    • Therapy is negatively affected by masks getting tangled with pillows and/or sheets.
  • You breathe through your nose:

    • Nasal pillow cushions create a seal directly with the user’s nostrils.
    • There is no reason to get a full face mask if you breathe primarily through your nose, unless it is a personal preference.

 

  • You feel claustrophobic while wearing larger masks:

    • The larger CPAP masks can cause users to feel a bit more “trapped” while wearing them.
    • Nasal pillow masks are lightweight and compact, therefore reducing the claustrophobic feel.

 

  • You have a lot of facial hair:

    • Hair in between the cushion and skin of the user can cause leaks to occur frequently.
    • Pillow cushions create a seal with the nostrils, therefore eliminating the need to create a seal where there is facial hair present.

 

Things to Consider:

  • High pressure settings:

    • CPAP users that require a higher-pressure setting may not be compatible with the nasal pillows.
    • The pillows create a direct seal with your nostrils, as a result all the air pressure is going directly through your nose.

 

  • Nasal discomfort:

    • Even with a lower pressure setting, the entirety of the airflow is going through the nose.
    • Direct nasal airflow can potentially cause dried nasal cavities, nosebleeds, irritation, etc.

 

  • Mouth breathers:

    • Nasal pillow cushions only involve the nostrils rather than the mouth.
    • A user who breathes primarily through the mouth would find this mask less helpful.

NOTE: A chinstrap will benefit you if a nasal pillow mask is more appealing. The chinstrap keeps your mouth shut, as a result it promotes nasal breathing.

 

Specialty CPAP Masks

Not all CPAP users require a mask that falls under the three main categories. CPAP developers have engineered some specialty style masks for users that need a little extra attention or are most comfortable with a unique style. Specialty masks include:

Nasal Cradle Masks

"OptiLife

This type of CPAP mask is very lightweight, similar to the nasal pillow option. The mask frame and headgear are non-intrusive to you. Nasal cradle masks are good if:

  • You prefer a small profile mask:

    • Nasal cradle masks are similar in size to nasal and nasal pillow masks.
    • They are lightweight and compact compared to full face masks.
    • Some users like to feel as if they have nothing on their face.

 

  • You breathe through your nose:

    • Nasal cradle masks work if you breathe through your nose.
    • If you are a nose breather or choose to use a chinstrap the nasal cradle mask is a great option.

 

  • You prefer a “natural” airflow feel:

    • Nasal cradle masks have a “natural” airflow feeling much like nasal masks.
    • The air fills the cushion so you do not feel “forced” to breathe.

 

  • You move around while they sleep:

    • Nasal cradle masks are small profile masks like nasal and nasal pillow masks.
    • The compact nature of the nasal cradle masks makes therapy easier while shifting throughout the night.

 

Things to Consider:

  • No variety:

    • There is currently only one style of nasal cradle mask.
    • The mask comes with multiple cradle cushion sizes, though

 

  • Mouth-breathers:

    • These are nasal masks, consequently a mouth breather would not benefit from this mask.
    • You can utilize this mask with a chinstrap.

 

  • Chronic allergies or nasal obstructions:

    • Users that have a history of chronic allergies or are prone to get cold and sinus issues regularly may want to steer clear of the nasal masks.
    • Conditions that affect breathing through the nose are not ideal for a user with a nasal cradle mask.

 

  • Medical conditions:

    • People with a deviated septum, narrow or collapsed nasal valve will not find comfort in a nasal cradle mask.
    • The conditions will prevent the user from breathing through their nose properly, therefore making this mask useless.

 

Oral Masks

Fisher & Paykel Oracle 452 CPAP Mask
Fisher & Paykel Oracle 452 CPAP Mask

Oral CPAP masks are exactly what the name infers, a mask that sits on the mouth of the user. They are not too bulky, and work with any CPAP machine. Oral masks are great if:

  • You breathe through your mouth:

    • Mouth breathers would greatly benefit from this type of mask.
    • All the airflow goes through the mouth, while nasal-based masks do not.

 

  • You do not want to wear a chinstrap:

    • Chinstraps assist you in keeping your mouth shut.
    • An oral mask is therefore beneficial to you due to not needing a chinstrap.

 

  • You have a high CPAP pressure setting:

    • A high-pressure setting is easily handled through your mouth as opposed to your nose.
    • The airflow has a larger space to work with in the mouth than the nose.

 

  • You have difficulty breathing out of your nose:

    • Chronic health issues can prevent or hinder breathing through your nose.
    • Oral masks will benefit you if you have a deviated septum or other nasal issues.

 

Things to Consider:

  • Primarily Nasal breathers:

    • People who primarily breathe through their nose will likely not benefit from an oral mask.

 

  • Cotton mouth/Dry throat:

    • You can potentially wake up in the middle of the night or in the morning with a dry mouth or sore throat.
    • CPAP machines without humidifiers will promote this issue, as well.

 

  • No Variety:

    • There are currently only a couple of choices for oral CPAP masks.

 

Keys to Success

  • Personal Preference:
    • The CPAP mask recommended in this guide may not be right for you, therefore the decision is ultimately up to you. An enormous aspect of compliance with CPAP therapy is comfort. If you are not comfortable you will likely not respond well to the treatment.

 

  • Breathing:
    • Knowing whether you are a mouth breather or nose breather is a factor in deciding which kind of CPAP mask to purchase. Full face CPAP masks are better for mouth breathers than nasal masks. Nasal breathers more often choose nasal or nasal pillow masks.

 

  • Patience:
    • The ultimate key to CPAP success is to be patient. The first night, week, or month may be difficult. CPAP therapy helps you with a serious medical condition, so allow your body some time to adjust to the process.

 

Call us today if you have any concerns about which mask is right for you. Our experts can guide you to the best choices for you. 1-800-274-1366

 

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