More than 18 million Americans suffer sleep apnea. CPAP therapy is the way to treat this sleep disorder. Being compliant with therapy is important because sleep apnea can become dangerous if left untreated.
However, many patients are not as good with being consistent with their therapy as they should be – its main reason being discomfort. Therefore, it is very important to find the right CPAP mask to stay comfortable throughout the night while getting therapy. There are several features of CPAP masks you should consider…
Now, CPAP machine and supplies aren’t cheap. You want to take good care of them, so they’ll last. Replacing cushion on your mask when you are supposed to will extend the life of your CPAP mask. Also, the cushion will become soft over time, lose shape, become cracked or torn and not as efficient in creating a seal. Dirty cushions may cause infections. Replacing cushions will make the mask feel new, and you’ll be able to get better sleep! The suggested replacement time is every 1 month.
Mask Cushion Types
Cushions come in different sizes and shapes. Most are made out of silicone, which is a softer and lighter material than gel cushions, and have a contoured shape to fit the face. Gel cushion is an alternative to the more popular silicone cushions. Gel cushion has the ability to mold itself to the shape of the patient’s face, which will make it feel like a custom fit. Philips Respironics’ ComfortGel Blue CPAP Masks are popular gel cushion masks. Foam cushions are also becoming popular, especially with the release of the AirTouch F20, which has a memory foam cushion that conforms to the user’s face.
However, gel masks must be tightly adjusted every night to prevent any leaks. Silicone cushions, on the other hand, do not have to be adjusted every night if the patient naturally fits well. Keep in mind, however, that silicone does not conform to the face and stays in the same position all night.
The headgear connects with the mask and provides support for your head. They are basically straps that hold your whole head together with the mask to keep it in place. If you are gentle with using your CPAP mask and accessories, you may just replace the CPAP mask and use the same headgear, so that the next time you need to replace the mask, you can buy the cheaper “without headgear” version of your mask.
Headgear quick-clips allow you to leave the headgear in its fitted position while allowing you to take it off comfortably and quickly. The quick-clip accessory attaches to the side strap of the headgear. With the quick-clips, you don’t have to unfasten and readjust the straps every time you put on/take off the mask.
The vertical design of chinstraps allows for a vertical angle of force on the chin to reduce sleep interruptions and the potential of causing sleep-related events. Chinstraps are very useful for users who sleep with their mouth open because these straps keep the mouth closed during sleep, keeping the pressured air from escaping through the mouth and preventing dry mouth symptoms in the morning. However, if you can’t keep your mouth closed, try a full face mask. This will let you to breathe in pressurized air through your nose and mouth.
The forehead cushion reduces pressure points for a more comfortable experience. Some people are sensitive to the pressure put on the bridge of their nose, and forehead support will alleviate that discomfort. Forehead support will also adjust the mask and prevent leakage below the mouth and by the bridge of the nose.
As you can see, there is a variety of different features in a CPAP mask. When buying a CPAP mask for yourself, pick and choose which features are important for the mask you will use. Sometimes, you have to try out different features to see what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s most important that you stay as comfortable as you can to stay rested and compliant in your therapy!