The CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) device, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association is the most recommended therapy option for the treatment of sleep apnea, one of the most distressing sleeping disorders. However, the CPAP machine is not stand-alone equipment – it comprises of tubes, fan and the most important component the CPAP mask.
As the name suggests, the CPAP device works by delivering compressed air through the tube, into the sleep apnea mask, which in turn delivers the pressurized air into the upper respiratory tract, to prevent it from collapsing during sleep. From the functional point of view, the sleep apnea mask therefore plays the most important role in determining the overall efficacy of CPAP therapy.
This makes the choice of the mask, a critical part of sleep apnea treatment. Considering the plethora of types, styles and designs of CPAP masks available in the market, you might find choosing the best mask for CPAP rather difficult, especially if you are a beginner with this therapy module.
How do you go about choosing the mask? The first point to remember here is that the term ‘best’ is relative. This means that what is ‘best’ for your friend need not always be the most suitable mask for you. To call a mask the best CPAP mask, you have to make sure that the mask fits your own individual needs, in terms of ease of breathing, snug fitting and of course, it should assure you of uninterrupted sleep.
Understanding the Basics
Nearly all sleep apnea masks are triangular in shape (to suit the contours of the nose) that covers either your nose or mouth or both. It is kept in place with the help of a head gear or straps. The best CPAP mask allows no leakage of air and does not hurt any part of the face, nose or mouth when you wear it.
What to look for
It makes more sense to choose a mask that is slightly smaller than choosing something that is big, as a bigger mask would allow air to leak and reduce the air pressure thereby reducing the efficacy of the machine.
One of the important deciding factors in choosing the best mask for CPAP is the way you breathe. The following example could be helpful:
- If you toss and turn in bed while asleep, the nasal mask could be the best mask for you. This type of mask is not only sturdy and comfortable but also leak-proof.
- For mouth breathers, the full face mask could be the mask to use. These masks allow you to use both the nose and mouth to breath and can be used even when the nose is blocked due to cold, allergy, etc.
- The best CPAP mask is the one that does not result ion skin irritation, sores and infection. A snug fit, along with the right kind of strap-use could assure you that such situations do not happen.
- One factor that can impact the choosing the best mask for CPAP is if you are allergic to silicone plastic, the material used for masks. In that case, you could use gel sleep apnea masks, that are made from gelatin combined with a kind of soft plastic that conforms to the precise contours of your nose and face.