Need to start on CPAP and wondering what type of masks are available?

One of the keys to getting CPAP working well to treat snoring and sleep apnea is getting the mask right. If the mask is comfortable, fits well and doesn’t leak it makes using CPAP a lot easier. This video shows you the 3 main types of mask; nasal, full-face and nasal pillows and gives tips on finding the right mask and getting CPAP working for you.

Video Timeline:

  • 00:00 – 01:20 Importance of getting the mask right
  • 01:20 – 01:56 Nasal masks
  • 01:56 – 02:51 Full-face masks
  • 02:51 – 03:50 Nasal pillow masks
  • 03:50 – 04:58 Make sure you try masks before you buy

Details of masks shown in video:

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One of the keys to successfully using CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure as a treatment for sleep apnea is getting the mask fitting right.

It really is the secret I think and working with an experienced CPAP provider who can get that mask interface something that you’re comfortable with and comfortable with sleeping at night is really the first step in successfully using CPAP in the longer term.

There are three main types of masks. So the masks that have been around the longest are nasal masks, so masks that just go over the nose. There are also masks that go over the nose and mouth. We will call it the full face mask and another style called nasal pillows and they’ve really come along a lot over the last few years.

It’s important when you’re first starting with CPAP to try one of each style of mask because what you think looks good or looks attractive in the store, maybe something like the ResMed P10 that looks pretty slim on the nose might not feel so good when you’re asleep, when you’re moving side to side whereas something like Fisher & Paykel’s simplest device, the full face mask, looks a bit big and you’re going to look at it and go, “Geez, I don’t like the look of that.” It can actually feel a bit more secure during sleep and not move around quite so much.

It’s important that you get the opportunity to trial them before really setting on a particular mask and a good CPAP provider will let you trial them.

Nasal masks are the types of masks that have been around the longest and one of the masks that’s my current favourite would be Fisher & Paykel’s Eson and they’ve just actually released an Eson 2 mask.

One of the things I like about it is the small silicon cushion that seems to be a good fit. It fits a lot of people, that particular shape, the cushion and really the frame sitting quite away off the mask and the cushion just sitting on the nose almost like floating on the nose seems to work really well, seems to get a good seal, fit a majority of people and people give us good feedback about that particular type of mask.

Another style of mask is the full face mask and the principle of that, it’s a mask that covers both the nose and mouth. So by its nature it’s going to be a much bigger mask. But for some people, that can feel a bit more secure and a bit less like it’s going to move around during sleep.

Because it does cover the mouth – with CPAP, you open the mouth. During the night, you get a lot of air leak out the mouth. It can lead to a dry mouth. This can be something that people find helpful instead of using a nasal mask.

One of the other ways we can address mouth leak is using a chin strap and some people prefer using a chin strap to switching to a full face mask. This is ResMed’s Quattro Air mask. It’s quite small. It has got the feminine pink head strap for ladies. This is actually one of my favourite in the full face variety at the moment. The other one that we’ve got on the stand is the Fisher & Paykel’s Simplus full face mask and I really like that one as well. It seems to fit a lot of people and we get very good feedback about that particular mask.

The third style of mask is a nasal pillow mask so this one is Fisher & Paykel’s Pilairo mask. One of the things I like about the Pilairo mask is this silicon part that has got both little cushions that push up into the nostrils as well as the silicon flange that inflates and really fits around the nose to help get an airtight seal.

The nasal pillow masks aren’t new. Even 15 years ago, we were using something like this. But what’s new is the silicon technology that allows these to be much softer, fit up against the nose without causing as much abrasion and be a lot more comfortable yet durable and not tear nearly as much.

In the nasal pillow mask, my personal favourite is this one, the Fisher & Paykel Pilairo, but a very popular one amongst patients that we see is ResMed’s P10 mask, which is a slightly different shape and the pillows that fit up into the nostrils. With the head strap, it’s a little more streamlined running around to the back of the head.

So don’t get caught up in any particular style of mask when you’re thinking about masks for CPAP. It is important that you actually try one of each style and don’t necessarily just think you like the look of that one. Make sure you try it on and also if you get the opportunity, try it while you’re sleeping because what might look good or feel good while you’re sitting in the chair or at the store might be completely different when you try and spend the night with it.

So if you work with a good CPAP provider, they will give you the opportunity to trial a range of masks. Swap them out if it’s not quite what you’re after and I think that’s an important step in getting CPAP working well.

I have to say a number of people that I see in a lot of my patients have more than one mask. So they may use a nasal mask most of the time, but have all face masks for when they get a cold and have trouble breathing through the nose. So don’t also feel like you’ve got to be set on only one style of mask. It does get a bit expensive because they’re a couple of hundred dollars each but people who are using CPAP over the longer term, that’s sometimes a good investment.

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