What makes selecting the right CPAP mask such a daunting task is that you have to find one that you can comfortably sleep with, every single night probably for the rest of your life.
The mask has to become an extension of your face without causing even the slightest discomfort.
And one size doesn’t fit all. What may work perfectly for someone else, may not work at all for you.
Because your sleep habits and breathing patterns will be different from your partner or your colleague who also suffers from sleep apnea.
Here’s a guide to the different types of CPAP masks and the pros and cons of each one of them.
The Nasal Pillow
With a minimalistic design that allows a clear field of vision and the freedom to wear reading glasses, Nasal Pillow masks are extremely popular among users. These are also the smallest masks among all. The pressurized air is blown through soft nasal tubes that are inserted into the nostrils. The mask is secured by head straps.
- Lightweight and minimalistic design
- Clear field of vision allows users to watch television or read books before sleeping
- No material on the bridge of the nose allowing users to wear glasses
- Almost zero air leakage since the nasal tubes are inserted into the nostrils
- If you have the habit of tossing or turning a lot in the sleep, then this is the perfect choice for you.
- If you are habituated to breathing from your mouth, then you may have to use chin straps instead of head straps
- If you need high-pressure airflow, then it may cause some discomfort since the nasal tubes blow air directly into the nostril
- Also, it has been linked with nasal dryness and nosebleeds in high-pressure users.
With a variety of sizes and fits to choose from, Nasal masks are the most widely used type of CPAP masks. It has a triangular shape and extends from the bridge of the nose to the upper lip.
- Since the airflow isn’t directly into the nostril, it feels more comfortable and natural
- Ideal for high-pressure users
- Can choose from a wide range of sizes and fits for people with different facial structures
- Has an in-built suction which keeps it in place even if you are a restless sleeper
- If you have difficulty breathing through the nostrils due to any medical condition or are a habitual mouth breather then it may not be ideal for you.
- If you frequently experience colds or allergies then it may not work for you
- Can cause some irritation on the bridge of the nose
Full Face Mask
As the name suggests, full face masks cover the entire face area making it perfect for mouth breathers.
- Ideal for mouth breathers who do not like using the nasal masks with chinstraps
- More comfortable than other mask types for high pressure settings since the wider area makes the airflow seem more natural
- Has multiple support straps that keep the mask in place even for restless sleepers
- Increased risk of air leakage due to the higher surface area
- If there is air leakage near the top of the mask, it may cause dryness in the eye
- Some people experience claustrophobia with the full surface area of the mask
- If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, then it may be uncomfortable to sleep with the mask on