CPAP Mask Choice
With the focus on CPAP treatment increasing, the number of mask designs and choices has expanded significantly. Each major manufacturer such as Resmed, Phillips Respironcs, Fisher and Paykel and Devilbiss offers extensive CPAP mask lines that should meet any discriminating CPAP patients needs. There are three general mask categories which nearly all CPAP masks fall into. The most widely used which also offers the most choice is the nasal CPAP mask. Phillips Respironics Comfort Gel and the Resmed Activa LT are just two examples of masks which offer patients an excellent fit and a high level of comfort. The nasal pillow mask which has recently gained significant traction in the CPAP mask market is now the preferred choice among many recently diagnosed CPAP patients. The Resmed Swift FX and Respironics Optilife have become the leaders in this category. The third type is the full face mask which covers both the nose and mouth. The full face mask is used primarily for patients who are unable or incapable of using a nasal or pillow mask. Although the full face mask has tended to be bigger and bulkier, the Resmed Quattro FX has set the new standard for full face masks and the Fisher and Paykel Forma offering full face mask users excellent support and comfort. All of these masks are adjustable with head gear or straps, so it is important to focus on how the cushion fits against your face and if the straps and clips make it convenient for taking on and off.
CPAP Mask Fit
When choosing a CPAP mask, factors which should be considered by the CPAP patient and the equipment provider include the shape of the face, length of the nose, the width of the nostrils, facial bone structure, if a forehead support is preferred and whether facial hair or dentures are present. It is also important for the CPAP patient to describe how they tend to sleep; side or back sleeper, constantly moving or static. Each of these factors can have an impact on mask choice and can help narrow the field to a few CPAP masks. The patient should also practice putting on and taking off the mask to consider the masks convenience factor. If the buckles and straps are difficult to adjust or open, getting up in the dark could be an unwanted hassle. Patients should also try wearing the mask while sitting up, lying down and turning from side to side. The CPAP mask should remain snug but not to the point of causing strap or cushion marks. If the mask is too loose, leaks will occur and CPAP treatment will become inefficient. The CPAP mask should also disassemble relatively easily since cleaning and part replacement will play an important factor in compliance. Lastly, it is important for patients to keep trying masks until one is found that suits all the needs and expectations of the user. If the mask is not working, try another as there are many choices available.
Use and maintenance of your CPAP mask
For most CPAP patience, the thought of wearing your current CPAP mask throughout the night gives them an uneasy feeling. But if the current mask is not comfortable enough to wear the entire night, it is time to try something different. Many manufacturers like Resmed and Phillips Respironics provide effective fitting tools and different sized mask choices to give the user multiple options within the same mask family. The CPAP patient should enlist the help of the equipment supplier or sleep technician to help with fitting. If neither is capable, find someone who is well versed in mask selection. Moreover, the CPAP machine pressure has been set to suit the users specific needs.If the mask is leaking, the CPAP treatment will not be delivering the correct pressure and will give sub-optimal results.As noted, the mask should be snug but not overly tight.
As CPAP patients sleep therapy needs change, CPAP mask refitting might be necessary. Changes to weight tend to affect the shape of the face and the way the mask fits around the nose and cheeks. CPAP machine pressure increases or decreases might affect the type of CPAP mask that a patient can use. Nasal pillow masks tend to get difficult to tolerate at high pressures while full face masks work well. To maintain an effective seal, cleaning the mask should be a daily routine. Washing a mask with warm soapy water and allowing it to dry naturally is the preferred method. CPAP mask wipes and cleaner are also available but not a requirement. Finally, the mask or its parts should be replaced a few times a year. If there is any degradation in the cushion or nasal pillows, air leaks can develop as the mask will no longer fit properly on the users face. Keep in mind that the overriding goal is comfort. When a CPAP mask is comfortable, compliance increases along with the quality of sleep.