If you’ve recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea and aren’t sure what face mask style suits your needs, you aren’t alone. Choosing the right CPAP headgear can be difficult because there are dozens of options to choose from. Consider following these simple guidelines to ensure the next CPAP mask you purchase is money well spent.
3k Types of Headgear
ace masks come in all shapes and sizes, but there are three common variations:
- Full face masks cover your face and mouth to help you breathe through your nose and mouth. These are typically prescribed to mouth breathers.
- Traditional nasal masks are the most common. These face masks cover your nose only, are lighter than full face masks, and have a triangular shape.
- Nasal pillow masks are even lighter than nasal masks. These are best for people who sleep with their mouths closed. Since these face masks allow for high visibility, they are best for people who have claustrophobia issues, a narrow nose bridge, or a shorter face.
If for some reason none of these face mask variations work for you, there are also less frequently prescribed CPAP options available. Consult with your sleep specialist about using total face masks (which cover the whole face), oral masks (which cover the mouth), or hybrid masks (which can take on any variation of the CPAP headgear described above).
What is the Best Face Mask Overall?
There are so many CPAP options available precisely because there is no one-size-fits-all facemask. It could be tempting to choose the lightest or smallest face mask for breathability and comfort, but there are other factors to consider:
- Larger face masks can provide better sealing to prevent leaking.
- Some full face masks might be more comfortable depending on your face shape.
- People with a lot of facial hair will need a larger mask to get a proper seal.
- Some people may simply prefer a tighter fit even if their face mask doesn’t leak.
It all comes down to personal preference. Whatever you choose, make sure you wear your CPAP mask regularly. It can be tempting to take off your mask in the middle of the night if you aren’t comfortable.
To make sure you are comfortable enough with your face mask to use it regularly and as prescribed, consult with your sleep doctor about taking the Overnight Sleep Study (also known as the Titration study). Your sleep doctor will instruct you to try a variety of masks until you find the perfect fit. You can repeat this study as needed to treat any unresolved symptoms or general discomfort.