If you have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are starting treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), you may feel confused and overwhelmed about how to go about how to choose the right CPAP mask. Fortunately, there are many different options available to consumers, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to find the right one for you. That being said, with so many options comes many questions and a lot of confusion as to how to pick the right one.
If you’re looking to find the right CPAP mask for your sleep apnea, follow these four steps and you’re guaranteed to find one that fits comfortably, breathes well, and meets your specific needs.
Step One: Identify Your Needs and Choose a CPAP Mask Style Accordingly
CPAP masks are supposed to provide a continuous flow of air to keep airways open and support the upper airway to prevent snoring and apnea. This air can be delivered through your mouth, your nose, or both. While it’s best to choose a mask that delivers air through whichever way your doctor suggests, this decision often comes down to personal preference.
In general, the majority of people use CPAP masks that deliver air through their nasal passages. Nasal CPAP masks have a triangular-shaped cushion that goes over the nose, covering everything from the bridge of the nose to below the nostrils. This gel or plastic cushion is connected to a fabric or velcro slip that secures the mask to your face as well as a plastic hose attaching the breathing piece to the CPAP machine.
Other people use masks that cover both the nose and the mouth to compensate for people who tend to breathe out of their mouths at night. These types of masks help prevent dry mouth and other conditions. Some individuals will even choose a CPAP mask style that covers the entire face, including the eyes and jaw, to help correct jaw positioning at night.
Ultimately, there are a variety of different shapes and styles when it comes to masks, so it’s important to identify what type of treatment you need before determining which type of mask to buy. There are even options with extra cushion to prevent marks on the face or less-visible options that look more like headphone earbuds that go in the nostrils rather than a full face mask. It’s important to figure out what you will benefit from best and what makes you more comfortable in order to choose the right CPAP mask.
Step Two: Schedule a Fitting to Find the Right Size
Most masks come in a variety of different sizes and, sometimes, the sizes depend on the individual manufacturer. For example, you may see some masks labeled with sizes like “small” and “medium-large” while others will be marked with accommodations like “wide” or “regular.” You want a mask that is large enough to deliver air adequately, but tight enough that the mask doesn’t shift while on your face and leak excessively.
Ideally, you’ll want to get fitted with a mask during your sleep study or titration study. These studies are meant to examine a person’s sleep, introduce them to CPAP, try several different mask interfaces, and figure out the right size. The staff conducting the study should have multiple mask options for you to try out. If you feel as though one isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for other mask interfaces or size options.
During your mask fitting, be sure to try and replicate real-world scenarios. If you sleep in a certain position, lay in that position and see how the mask feels. The last thing you want is to get home and realize that your mask is too tight or that air is leaking out above the bridge of your nose.
Step Three: Choose CPAP Mask Accessories That Increase Treatment Compliance
If you’re trying to choose the right CPAP mask, you’ll want to look for more than the mask style and fit. You’ll also want to explore the different CPAP accessories that make sleep apnea treatment far more tolerable. For example, there are different types of headgear used to secure the mask to your head and these can vary depending on the type of mask interface you have. Some headgear is made out of machine-washable fabric while others have Velcro or plastic clips.
You may want to consider your individual needs, as well. During your fitting, you may have found it difficult to keep your mouth closed, so you may try a chinstrap to help stop mouth breathing. Additionally, many people choose to use a heated humidifier, like the ResMed H5i™, in their CPAP machine to help moisten the air and prevent condensation in the CPAP machine’s tubing.
There are a variety of convenient options available that can make your CPAP treatment easier and more comfortable. If you don’t know which accessories to buy right off the bat, that’s okay! You can always see what works, what doesn’t, and adjust your CPAP accessories accordingly.
Step Four: Watch for Problems and Concerns That Can Be Worked Out With Your Doctor
Is your CPAP mask leaking too much? Or, is it leaving sores and red marks on your face when you wake up? If so, you may need to talk to your healthcare provider or doctor about fixing your mask. If you run into problems with your CPAP treatment, you’re less likely to see the benefits from treatment and continue complying. As a result, it’s vital to address any problems you see before you give up on treatment.
You will also want to keep your CPAP equipment clean and take care of it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Fortunately, many insurance policies offer coverage for CPAP masks and accessories, so some of the costs may even be covered.
Get Started and Find The Right CPAP Mask Today
CPAP treatment can be life-changing for both you and your family, so it’s important to get started on the right path by choosing the right CPAP mask for you. At Kelmedix, we pride ourselves on providing patients with the highest-quality medical equipment in the nation and we have a variety of CPAP masks and accessories to choose from. Head on over to our online store or give us a call to get started today.