Instructions by Profmed Healthcare Solutions
Choosing the right CPAP mask is important to ensure that the treatment resolves your nighttime breathing problems. The CPAP mask should be comfortable, but fit tightly enough to ensure a proper seal. If the CPAP mask does not fit tightly enough, the air pressure level will not be consistent and treatment may not be effective.
If the mask is not comfortable, it may interfere with your sleep. The most common reason cited for stopping the treatment is discomfort.
There Are Three Basic Mask Designs
One type fits only over the nose. The other fits over the nose and mouth. The third mask the new nasal pillows style. The right choice depends on how you normally breathe. If you normally breathe through your nose, then the nose-only type will work.
Nasal pillows are directly placed on the nostrils, have little contact on the face which makes for lesser chances of skin irritations. The nasal pillows give freedom to the user because he does not have to wear limiting face masks that cover the nose and mouth and disable him to do normal activities while wearing them like reading, watching TV, eating, or talking.
If you breathe through your mouth, you should choose the type that fits over your nose and your mouth. In either case, the masks are held in place by adjustable straps that fit over the head.
Most CPAP masks come in small, medium and large sizes. You may need to try on the different sizes to determine an appropriate fit. This is sometimes done during a split night sleep study or during a CPAP titration study.
If your doctor has not recommended those tests, you might want to consider them before you begin using your CPAP device. You may have already had a polysomnography (sleep study) to diagnose your condition or your doctor may have made the diagnosis based on your symptoms.
In either case, the CPAP titration study can be used to determine proper fit of the face mask and to determine the correct amount of air pressure. This study will also show whether or not the treatment is working effectively.
Adjusted To Your Comfort
Once the size and type of mask is selected, it is a simple matter of adjusting the straps. You may need help in making the adjustments. Most masks are equipped with quick release clips, so once the correct strap adjustment is found, it should remain adjusted properly for quite some time. The straps can loosen, particularly if you move around a lot during your sleep. So, it is important to check them occasionally to be sure they are still snug.
The masks should allow you to sleep comfortably on your back or your side. Sleeping on your stomach may be difficult. Sleeping face down in the pillow will not work.
Straps For CPAP Masks
Most CPAP masks come with the straps attached, but it is possible to replace only the straps. Be aware that not all straps work with all masks.
A CPAP chin strap is an optional piece of equipment used to keep the mouth closed. The chin strap is only used with the nose-only masks. It simply prevents your mouth from falling open while you sleep.
Do You Use Your Mouth To Breathe?
People who breathe through their mouths on a consistent basis should put some thought into “why”. A nasal obstruction, such as a deviated septum, could be the cause. Seeing an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) could be in order.
Whether or not you breathe through your mouth, with obstructive sleep apnea it is worthwhile to see an otolaryngologist. If you have not already done so, the specialist could be able to determine what is causing the obstruction. An otolaryngologist might find enlarged tonsils or adenoids. The uvula could be obstructing the airway by collapsing at night.
If a nasal obstruction is the reason you breathe through your mouth, you should not use a chin strap. When the nasal problem is corrected in the future, you might choose to switch to a different mask or add the chin strap.
Have A Fitted CPAP Mask
Although a larger CPAP mask may feel more comfortable, you should not choose one that is too large. A large mask is more likely to leak. The air that leaks out of the CPAP mask can irritate your eyes and interfere with your sleep.
Masks that fit properly over the nose and mouth include a vent for exhalation. This ensures that the air supply stays fresh. You should check that the vent is open and clean it on a regular basis to ensure it does not become clogged. If exhaled gases are not vented, CO2 can build up in the mask, which would have a negative effect on your blood oxygen levels.
Custom Accessories Are Available To You
The CPAP hose should be securely attached to the mask. A 6 foot length of hose is generally included with the CPAP system. If you feel that you need a longer hose, because of your preferred sleeping position, the location of the CPAP or the height of your bed, you should let your healthcare professional know.
Some CPAP masks are designed to accompany glasses. If you typically read or watch TV right before falling asleep, you might want to choose that type. Some people like to put their masks on before they are sleepy. Otherwise, the disruption of putting on the CPAP mask wakes them up.
If you also require extra oxygen, you will need a CPAP mask with two openings and connection ports. Those are available from Profmed Healthcare Solutions.
The latest CPAP masks are composed of a gel like material that molds to the individual’s face and alleviates pressure points. The advantage of the new masks is to prevent the facial changes that researchers have found accompany the use of the harder plastic masks.
Remember to consider any allergies that you have when selecting your mask. Many are made of silicone, which is a fairly common allergen. If you are allergic to silicone, you can choose synthetic rubber or vinyl. You might ask CPAP therapy consultants from Profmed Healthcare Solutions about other hypoallergenic materials.