According to health reports, approximately one in five Australians lives with sleep disorders which is a serious concern, as sleep is the “third pillar” of a healthy lifestyle among diet and exercise.
Some of the most common sleep disorders are obstructive sleep apnea and chronic snoring. And continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy has proven to be an effective way to treat these breathing problems. If you too are about to begin this treatment, finding the right CPAP mask is fundamental as there is no “miracle mask” that fits everyone perfectly.
Choosing the best mask for you might be a little daunting at first, due to the many different mask styles, shapes and sizes. The mask needs to meet your individual breathing requirements and sleep habits and be comfortable to wear throughout the night. That being said, let’s take a closer look at the main categories of CPAP masks available to help you make a better choice.
Nasal Pillow Mask
Because of their simple design, nasal pillow masks are one of the most popular mask choices for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. This nasal mask type is fitted on your upper lip and it blows pressurized air through two soft nasal tubes that are placed into the nostrils, featuring straps that go around your head to make a secure fit.
Benefits of Nasal Pillow Masks:
- Their minimalist design is ideal for those who feel uncomfortable with too much material touching their face and people suffering from claustrophobia;
- They provide a better field of vision than any of other nasal mask types. If you love reading or watching TV before bedtime, this type is your best choice;
- If you’re a glasses wearer, a nasal pillow mask allows you to wear them, as there’s no material covering the nose bridge;
- There is minimal air leakage as the air flows directly to nasal passages;
- Being the smallest among nasal CPAP masks, it will allow you to turn and toss during your sleep.
Downsides of Nasal Pillow Masks:
- If you need higher-pressure airflow, this mask type won’t be a suitable option, as its direct airflow may cause discomfort on higher settings;
- Direct airflow may lead to nasal dryness and in some rear cases, nose bleeding;
- Not perfect for mouth-breathers. If you normally don’t breath through your nose, using a nasal pillow mask may feel unnatural and uncomfortable. Anyhow, If you’re a mouth-breather and want to wear a nasal pillow, it’s recommended you use it with a chin-strap.
CPAP nasal masks have a triangular shape and fit over the nose, covering up space from the nose bridge down to the upper lip. They are made of soft and comfortable materials. It’s very likely that you’ll find a perfect mask for your needs in this range. There are a variety of sizes and fits of CPAP nasal masks Australia online and brick and mortar stores sell.
Benefits of Nasal Masks:
- They don’t provide direct pressure and the airflow might be higher;
- Many different styles allow an excellent fit for a wide range of facial structures;
- If you sleep on the side or move a lot during your sleep, the mask will stay securely in place thanks to its suction characteristics.
Downsides of Nasal Masks:
- Like nasal pillows, a nasal mask is not the perfect option for a mouth-breather unless it features a chin-strap for jaw support;
- Some models may create irritation caused by the pressure of the mask resting on the nose bridge and forehead;
- If you frequently experience problems with sinuses and have breathing difficulties due to certain medical conditions, it won’t be ideal for you.
Full Face Mask
CPAP full face masks cover the nose and mouth and are secured in place by straps. Some options, cover the mouth but also may have nasal prongs that fit into nostrils.
Benefits of Full Face Masks:
- This mask type is excellent for mouth-breathers and those suffering from frequent congestion (due to allergies and common colds);
- Full face masks covering the entire facial area are reported to be beneficial for people suffering from claustrophobia, as their experience is better when the mask is touching only the outer parts of their face;
- They work well on very high air pressure because the wide area of the mask provides tolerable and less direct airflow;
- If you sleep on your back throughout the night, full face masks are best, allowing for optimal seal.
Downsides of Full Face Masks:
- The larger mask surface area has a greater chance of air leakage, causing dry, irritated eyes;
- If you’re a stomach sleeper, the bulk of the mask will make it difficult, almost impossible to seep in your favourite position.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a CPAP Mask
To choose the perfect CPAP mask is of utmost importance as if it doesn’t fit, you won’t be satisfied with your CPAP Therapy. Give yourself enough time to try different masks from full face to CPAP nasal masks Australia stores sell and then decide which one is the best for you. The best one will provide a perfect fit and optimal comfort. Here are the main factors to consider:
- Think about your sleep positions and breathing habits;
- Ask for advice if you’re claustrophobic or experience uncommon irritation on any area of your face;
- If you have facial hair, consider professional opinion on which mask won’t leak due to the uneven surface;
- There are a variety of cushion materials (gel, foam, silicon) therefore you need to check which one is most comfortable;
- Ask if the mask has replaceable cushion parts.