Choosing a Mask for Optimal CPAP Therapy

Choosing a Mask for Optimal CPAP Therapy

Mask is the only thing which comes in contact with user and hence the most crucial aspect of cpap therapy. Often ignored or compromised during device purchase but should be given lot of importance

Masks of three main types - fullface (oronasal), nasal, nasal pillows. First decision to be taken is regarding type.

General thumb rule is smaller the mask better it is. True in most cases but not always.

For people with blocked nasal passage, sinusitis issues or mouth breathers, full face mask is recommended. Reason : pressure thrown by cpap machine is not released into atmosphere upon opening mouth. For very high pressure, > 15cm H2O full face is better as larger surface area, so pressure distribution is better.

Nasal mask is most standard choice with cpap machine. Good for nose breathers can be used at any pressure range.

Full face and nasal mask has following parts : headgear, forehead support, mask frame, cushion, mask clips.Some masks are designed differently and do not require forehead support and hence are lighter and lesser contact on face.

Clipping mechanism is different in most masks with hooks, grooves, magnetic button options being there. By far magnetic clips are easiest to use like in the F20 Full Face or N20 nasal. Quality of headgear is important. Resmed has soft headgears causing less or no marks on skin. Life of velcro is long.

Cheap masks compromise on such factors. Mask cushion is generally made of silicon, could be gel based like in comfort gel. Silicon is lighter, gel is heavier. No one mask fits all patients as face structure is different for all. Use sizing guides to select the right size

Nasal pillows recommended for claustrophobic patients wanting minimum contact of mask with their face. Advised to use at pressure <12cm H2O only as it may lead to pain in nostrils. P10 is the best selling nasal pillows mask with very soft stretchable headgear and 3 sized nasal cushions having a mesh technology to release exhaled air. Minimal contact with face.

Mask compatibility : Most masks come with standard 22mm connectors and hence can be used with any model machine. There may be exceptions like the AirMini which is compatible with only 3 masks : ResMed n20 , ResMed f20 and P10 for AirMini

Hospitable Disposable Masks : These masks are cost effective solutions for short term trials and are generally provided during hospital admissions. They are not suitable for long term cpap therapy as they have short life span and not very comfortable.

ResMed hands down winner in mask quality and design.

Editors recommendations

Full face : F20

Nasal : N20

Pillows : AirFit P10