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Tips for Choosing the Best CPAP Mask

Do you get claustrophobic easily? Are you a mouth breather? Do you have allergies that block your sinuses? Believe it or not, these are just a few of the questions you should consider when choosing a CPAP mask. And with so many different sleep therapy masks to choose from, the selection process can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, most people can narrow down the options by assessing their own sleep behavior, breathing habits and comfort preferences. Once armed with this knowledge, you can confidently choose the best type of CPAP mask to treat your sleep apnea.

In today’s post, we’ll review the three basic CPAP mask styles available and outline some of the pros and cons of each.

Nasal Pillow CPAP Mask

Nasal Pillow masks are lightweight, compact designs that provide minimal contact with the face. Nasal pillows rest at the entrance of the nostrils, creating a seal that channels pressurized air directly into your nose. A nasal pillow CPAP mask works best with low- to mid-pressure prescriptions, as the direct airflow can be uncomfortable at higher settings.

Because nasal pillows are so small and compact, they can be a great solution for people who get claustrophobic wearing larger masks. Nasal pillows can also be the answer for patients with facial hair who have difficulty getting an effective seal on larger nasal or full face masks. One major caveat for nasal pillows is they will not be effective for sleepers who breathe through their mouth.

Nasal pillow CPAP masks are a good option if you:

● Experience claustrophobia with larger mask options
● Toss and turn in your sleep
● Have a lot of facial hair
● Breathe through your nose

Avoid a nasal pillow CPAP mask if you:

● Suffer from allergies that block the sinuses
● Are prone to nasal dryness
● Require a high-pressure CPAP setting
● Breathe primarily through your mouth

Nasal CPAP Mask

A nasal CPAP mask covers the bridge of the nose to the upper lip area, delivering a more indirect and natural airflow than the nasal pillow mask. For this reason, a nasal mask is often recommended for CPAP patients who require high-pressure settings. With plenty of versatile options to choose from, the nasal CPAP mask is a popular compromise between the lightweight nasal pillow and bulkier full-face CPAP mask.

Nasal CPAP masks are a good option if you:

● Move around a lot in your sleep
● Want a wide variety of mask options to choose from
● Require a high-pressure CPAP machine setting
● Prefer a more natural airflow

Avoid a nasal CPAP mask if you:

● Breathe primarily through your mouth
● Have lots of facial hair (mustache) that compromises seal
● Have trouble breathing through your nose due to a medical condition, like severe allergies

Full Face CPAP Mask

Unlike nasal pillows and nasal masks that seal exclusively on the nose, a full face CPAP mask covers both the nose and mouth. In order to create a CPAP seal on both airways, full face masks cover a larger surface area of the face. While the bulky size of a full face mask can be uncomfortable some people, they are a great solution for patients with high-pressure CPAP prescriptions or who breathe through their mouth. In fact, for many patients, a full face mask is the only realistic option for effective CPAP therapy.

One of the common drawbacks of a full face mask is the larger surface area means a greater likelihood of leaks. A full face mask can also be an issue for patients with beards or facial hair that interfere with the mask seal. Also, the bulkiness of some full face masks can be problematic for active sleepers who move a lot during the night.

Full face CPAP masks are a good option if you:

● Require a high-pressure CPAP setting
● Breathe primarily through your mouth
● Sleep on your back
● Have trouble breathing through your nose from allergies or other medical conditions

Avoid a full face CPAP mask if you:

● Experience claustrophobia
● Sleep on your stomach
● Toss and turn in your sleep
● Want to read or watch TV in bed

Remember that it can take some time to get accustomed to CPAP therapy, particularly for new patients. And if your CPAP equipment isn’t working out the way you hoped or expected, talk with a medical professional and consider trying a different mask option. Sometimes a little change can make all the difference in successful sleep therapy or restless frustration.

See the DreamWear mask options.

See the ResMed mask options.

No matter which CPAP mask you end up choosing, you’ll need to have a plan for keeping it clean. Cleaning a CPAP mask manually can be time-consuming, so consider purchasing an automated device like the popular SoClean CPAP Cleaner and Sanitizer. SoClean destroys 99.9% of the germs on your CPAP equipment, so you can rest easier knowing you’re using a clean CPAP mask, hose and reservoir.

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