In your quest to combat Sleep Apnea, you got a CPAP machine. Good job! However, you’d still need another aid to ensure you enjoy a comfortable night’s rest. That aid is a mask. So, what is a CPAP mask?
If you indeed require one to overcome your sleep challenges, why is it important?
Furthermore, what kinds are there of CPAP masks? Which of these types better suits you?
Find answers to your questions as you continue reading this article.
What Is a CPAP Mask? Understanding The Importance Of Your Mask
By now, you understand the functions of a CPAP machine. If you don’t, let’s do a recap:
A CPAP machine primarily supplies high-pressure oxygen to your airways to keep your sleep as comfortable and as long as possible.
But do you ever wait to wonder how the pumped air gets into your airways? Indeed, CPAP does the most work.
However, if there is no point of connection between the tubes coming from the compressor of a CPAP machine and your mouth & nostrils, the effort goes futile. This point is where CPAP masks come in.
In simple terms, a CPAP mask is a bridging device between your desirable PAP therapy aid and your airways. Without it, the pumped air that you so crave stays out of your system.
What then is the point if that happens? Why waste your hard-earned money on a process that doesn’t help you?
You see: CPAP masks are the most crucial components in any PAP therapy set-up. Unfortunately, there are no statistics to back that up.
On the other hand, there is proof that CPAP masks are indeed quintessential to Sleep Apnea. When you look at all the aids of PAP treatments, only the middle man comes in varied forms. Why is it like that?
Since masks come in direct contact with your airways, they come in various shapes and capabilities. That is quite okay, considering that we humans have vast differences.
Regarding the types of CPAP masks, let’s see what you can expect.
Types of CPAP Masks And How Each Fit Your Sleeping Patterns
To understand the types of CPAP masks, first, you need to have a relook at your sleeping position. So, how do you sleep?
What Is Your Sleeping Posture?
You might not know this, but how you sleep says a lot about what CPAP mask type you use. That said, there are three main sleeping patterns; they are:
- Back – here you either do a soldier or a starfish. Either way, you sleep on your back and face your heavens. This style seems to be the most beneficial to your health because the pressure is equally distributed. However, back-sleeping can prove hectic if you have nagging back pains or Sleep Apnea.
- Side – instead of your back, here you roll on your side and rest on that side. The common variances of this style are fetal (the most popular), log, and yearner. Regardless of your side-sleeping technique, the chances are that you won’t get deep sleep and even wake up with sores. It would even be worse when you suffer from OSA.
- Stomach – stomach-sleeping (either free faller or reverse soldier) is ideal for maintaining shape. However, it gives Sleep Apnea patients headaches because, by default, stomach-sleeping means you’ll sleep on your mask. How would your PAP therapy work when you block the passageway to your airway?
Now, let’s see which CPAP mask meets your specific sleeping-posture needs.
Meet Your CPAP Masks
Like sleeping positions, CPAP Masks also have three primary types: full face masks, nasal masks, and nasal pillow masks.
Full Face Masks
As the name suggests, full face masks cover almost all your face. It focuses more on your mouth and nose; hold on to your head with its support straps.
Thanks to its design and gadgetry positioning, full face masks fit the need of back sleepers. So much so, the default back alignment of back-sleeping makes full face masks work at optimal levels.
- High-pressure air compatibility – full face masks come with a large surface area. For that reason, they make high-pressured air more comfortable for users compared to other CPAP masks.
- Ideal for mouth-breathers – full face masks cover the nose as well as the mouth. So, in the case of flu or nasal congestion, the device will aid you to breathe through your mouth. Impressive enough, it is the only one that performs the function in the major types of CPAP masks.
- Air leakage – as a result of the large surface area, the chances are high that you’d lose some of the oxygen. Who knows, there might be some holes around the straps – especially when you don’t use your exact size. When such leakages happen, it could lead to irritated eyes and dry eyes.
- Disrupts your routine – due to the large surface area, full face masks can hinder your reading or even binge-watching. Worse: if you’re claustrophobic, you would dislike how the device touches your face all over.
As the name implies, nasal masks only come in direct contact with your nose. These aids come in triangular shapes that cover your nose and a bit of your upper lip.
Of all CPAP masks, nasal masks are the most popular because they come in diverse shapes and sizes to fit users’ numerous needs.
Thanks to the suction of nasal masks that hold them tightly in place, they are ideal for side sleepers. Regardless of how you turn (fetal, log, or yearner), the suctions of your mask stay in place to ensure you sleep without intermittent breaks.
- Wide-range application – due to the variations of nasal masks, it readily meets people’s needs. Irrespective of the shape of the face (regular or irregular) and the features, you are sure to get a fitting nasal mask.
- Ideal for active sleepers – you don’t have to worry if you turn around a lot in your sleep. The suctions of your mask hold it firmly in place.
- No air leakages – nasal masks are compact and open directly to your nose. For that reason, you won’t experience air leakages.
- No provision for mouth-breathing – in the event of nasal congestions, nasal masks fail its patients. That means once you experience blocked sinuses, you might need to purchase a new CPAP mask. Furthermore, if you have nasal complications such as an aberrated septum or narrow nasal valve, you will experience breathing difficulties. With medical conditions as such, any slight error might prove fatal.
- Skin irritation – though not all people, some users often complain that the point of contact on their foreheads and nose causes itches on their skins.
Nasal Pillow Masks
Nasal pillow masks (also known as nasal pillows) have the most compact designs of the three CPAP masks. For that reason, they are quite popular among users.
Unlike nasal masks, pillows come with two soft tubes that open directly into the nostrils. They also have go-around-the-head velcro straps that keep the structures in place.
Nasal pillows fit all sleeping postures, be it back, side, or stomach.
- No hindrances to your routine – with a nasal pillow, you can read and watch your movies. Even you can wear your glasses and leave your facial hairs.
- The lightweight – nasal pillow has almost a feather feel. As such, it is best for claustrophobic patients; they won’t feel a touch nor nurse any irritation as a result.
- Active sleepers – the lightweight plus the nasal tubes make nasal pillows a top draw for active sleepers. Regardless of how you turn, commando-style, or free faller, your mask stays on. The best part: a single air will not leak.
- Not ideal for high-pressured air – nasal pillow opens directly into your nostrils. Because of that, it doesn’t suit high-pressure needs. If you insist, it could lead to nose dryness and bleeding.
- Lack of consideration for mouth breathing – like nasal masks, pillows also lack support for mouth-breathers. Meaning: you’d have to spend more whenever you suffer nose congestions or any other temporary medication condition.
You now have an answer to the question, “what is a CPAP Mask?” Even more, you also know what each mask does and how it fits your sleeping pattern.
But how can you make the right choice?
Factors To Consider When Choosing A CPAP Mask
If you move around a lot during sleep, do well to inform your physician. Else, he might advise you to use a full face mask, whereas a full face mask doesn’t support your need.
Are You Claustrophobic?
How do you feel at the slightest touch of foreign material? Do you feel irritated and itchy?
If yes, inform your physician. Doing so will guide your attending doctor to advise you for lightweight masks such as nasal pillows.
Check Your Sizing and Style
The last and most important factor is your comfort. Regardless of how a mask fits your active sleeping or touch needs, if it brings you discomfort, keep searching.
About comfort, do well to ensure that you pick only a fit size and style. Note: don’t go for an oversized or undersized mask.
Also, it is best that you don’t buy a mask only because of its aesthetic appeal. In essence, choose what meets your needs and bring you peace of mind.