CPAP Mask Considerations and Complaints
When buying a CPAP mask, you need to compare features against your sleeping style.
Full Face Mask
About ¼ of CPAP users choose a full face mask. It ensures the delivery of air pressure on a continuous basis to either your nose or mouth. While it is very effective, users often complain of feeling claustrophobic, dryness around the eyes, and leakage issues (can be caused by facial hair or a loose fit). But, it is the mask of choice for patients suffering from allergies or other comorbidities that result in mouth breathing during sleep.
Cloth, gel, foam and silicone are the various cushion options for the full face mask. The cushion is the part of the mask that touches your face. It is common for users to have allergies or discomfort with certain materials that is unknown until therapy begins.
The full face mask uses a headgear to secure the mask around the head and is typically offered in various sizes and materials to reduce leakages.
What type of sleeper are you, and will this mask work for you? Some full face masks accommodate eyeglass wear comfortably while others do not. If you enjoy laying in bed and watching tv, you will need to put on your eyeglass wear with your mask to guarantee a good and comfortable fit.
Comfort: Around 50% of CPAP users choose the nasal mask due to the wide range of sizes and adjustments that can be made to obtain comfort during therapy. The nasal mask only covers the nose with a triangular shaped frame. If you have nasal allergies or another other comorbidities (deviated septum) that affect the nasal passageway, the nasal mask could be challenging during therapy and is not recommended.
Material: Like the full face mask, it is offered in cloth, gel, foam and silicone cushion options.
Headgear: Using a headgear with the nasal mask reduces leaks and permits more comfort during sleep.
Chin Strap: A chin strap can be added to keep the mouth closed. This is a good option for mouth breathers who cannot tolerate a full face mask.
Sleep Lifestyle: The nasal mask is great for active or side sleepers. It can handle higher pressures and will even provide good suction with users that have facial hair.
Comfort: This is the most lightweight of masks and is excellent for a user that does not like materials touching their face. The pillows simply rest on the entrance to the nostrils. However, it cannot withstand higher pressures since that could result in nasal dryness and discomfort.
Material: Gel and silicone are the two options for the pillow portion of the mask.
Headgear: This type of mask also uses a headgear to secure the pillow mask to the head.
Chin Strap: Mouth breathers can use a chin strap with a nasal pillow mask to keep the mouth closed but users complain that is does not feel natural and inserts challenges with therapy compliance.
Sleep Lifestyle: This is the optimal style for active sleepers or for users who have a lot of facial hair that may cause leakage in the other mask types.
Your goal in therapy is to ensure you can breathe while you are sleeping, uninterrupted. In order to do this, you need to find a mask that is comfortable but will also deliver the prescribed pressures from your CPAP machine. Take our quiz Find the Right CPAP Mask to help in your selection.