Finding the best fitted CPAP Mask for yourself is one of the most important components of achieving optimal success with CPAP Therapy. Comfort is what you are aiming for. With so many sleep apnea masks, including various styles, shapes and sizes to choose from it can be quite overwhelming. There are three main categories of CPAP Mask types – Nasal, Nasal Pillows, and Full Face Masks. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Depending on the type of breather you are (do you inhale and exhale through your nasal passage or are you a mouth breather?), your sleep habits and comfort level one type would work better than another. It is always best to consult your local CPAP Homecare Provider or your sleep physician for advice before purchasing your CPAP Mask.
Nasal Pillow Masks – Pros and Cons
Nasal pillow masks are the least intrusive of the three types of sleep apnea masks. Nasal pillow masks are among the most popular choses for CPAP users due to its minimalistic design and lightweight. Some of the more popular and current Nasal Pillow CPAP Masks include: Fisher & Paykel Brevide Direct Nasal Mask, Philips Respironics Nuance & Nuance Pro Direct Nasal Mask and Resmed AirFit P10 Nasal Mask. Nasal Pillow masks are ideal for CPAP users who are claustrophobic or with extreme skin sensitivity. Since it has minimal contact with the face, it does not obstruct your vision and it leaves very little markings on your face.
Unfortunately, nasal pillow masks are not for everyone. It is often not ideal for patients with high-pressure settings (generally greater than 10cmH2O). Due to the design of the nasal prongs of the nasal pillow masks, the airflow is very direct and may cause significant discomfort for CPAP users including dryness and nosebleeds. Furthermore, nasal pillows are not ideal for mouth breathers or individuals with chronic sinus issues.
Nasal Masks – Pros and Cons
Nasal masks are traditional form of sleep apnea masks that are triangular in shape and cover only the nose. Nasal masks are generally easier to adapt to as it delivers a more natural airflow feel in comparison to the nasal pillow masks. Many of the nasal masks are now extremely lightweight, and some even offer unobstructed view. Amongst all the nasal masks available, the more comfortable and popular nasal masks include: Philips Respironics Wisp Nasal CPAP Mask and Dreamwear Nasal Mask; Fisher & Paykel Eson 2 Nasal Mask, and Resmed Mirage FX Nasal Mask. Key benefits of a nasal mask is that it provides a better seal in comparison to the nasal pillow and full face masks. This is especially good for CPAP users who move a lot in their sleep.
Most people are tolerant of nasal masks however, much like the nasal pillows, nasal masks are not ideal for mouth breathers, unless accompanied with a chin strap. It is not recommended for those who have deviated septum or any other chronic sinus issues. Some people will experience minor skin irritation and markings on their face caused by the pressure of the mask resting on their face for a long period of time.
Full Face Masks – Pros and Cons
Full face masks are triangular in shape and covers both the nose and the mouth. It sits at the bridge of your nose and just above the chin. Full face masks are generally used by those who have nasal obstructions which causes mouth breathing or those who experience frequent congestions due to allergies. Full face masks work well for high CPAP pressure settings because of the wide surface area of the mask the pressure feels more tolerable in comparison to the nasal and nasal pillow masks. The full face masks that are now available in the market are quiet and lightweight. The more popular full face masks include: Philips Respironics Amara View Full Face Mask, ComfortGel Blue Full Face Mask. Resmed AirFit F20 Full Face Mask and Quattro Air Full Face Mask.
Full face masks are more cumbersome than nasal and nasal pillow masks, therefore, those who are claustrophobic or have claustrophobic tendencies will have a hard time tolerating this style mask. Full face masks are not encouraged if you are an active sleeper as you might experience higher chance of leakage due to a larger surface area.
Here are just some key points to keep in mind when selecting your Sleep Apnea Mask. Size, fit and comfort are the most important factors to consider. Remember that each individual’s facial structure is different; so make sure you speak with your sleep physician or homecare provider before buying!