Doctors often recommend the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices such as CPAP masks to correct obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder wherein the airflow stops or decreases significantly despite the effort to breathe. It is caused by obstruction of the airway and results in pauses in breathing during sleep so that one or more breaths are missed.
Users often start out with a basic mask design but as they get used to sleeping with the CPAP machine they may want to consider a different CPAP mask design to maintain the prescribed air pressure and for greater comfort. CPAP Masks
Air leakage happens when the CPAP mask does not fit well. A mask that fits correctly will prevent the air from leaking out. The size and shape of a person’s nose and face will determine the size and design needed.
CPAP masks now come in different designs. The most popular types of mask include:
Nasal mask- This is a triangular-shaped mask that covers the nose and ends just above the upper lip. Straps hold it in place and the tubing connected to the CPAP machine is attached to the front of the mask. The nasal mask is the most popular mask today and is most often prescribed by sleep doctors. They are usually available in several sizes to fit different face shapes and sizes.
Full face mask – The full face mask is designed to cover both the mouth and nose. It can be used even by mouth breathers and those with stuffy noses who have to breathe through their mouth. Studies show that a full face mask is the most effective design at maintaining the prescribed air pressure. Its main disadvantage is that it can be cumbersome to sleep in, especially for side-sleepers. Some sleepers may also find it claustrophobic.
Nasal pillow mask – Nasal pillow masks deliver the prescribed air pressure using small pliable cones in the nose. The cones or pillows seal against the outside of the nostrils. The air hose is attached at the front and goes over the forehead. A head strap holds the mask in place. This style of CPAP mask is ideal for people who sleep on their stomach or side.
Choosing a particular CPAP mask design can be a matter of personal choice as users would want a mask that is comfortable and has the best fit. Always choose a mask that eliminates or minimizes air leakage. Most masks are available in two sizes but some designs come in a wider range of sizes including petite, small, medium, large and extra large.