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Best CPAP Masks

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 12 Models Considered
  • 6 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 136 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best CPAP masks

    Last Updated August 2018

    If you’re one of the estimated 22 million Americans with sleep apnea, the chances are good you have – or have tried – a CPAP machine, the most common treatment.

    You might also be familiar with the struggle to find a comfortable, well-fitting CPAP mask. If your mask doesn’t fit properly, you aren’t receiving the maximum benefits from your treatment.

    Because sleep apnea and CPAP can be a bit complicated, we at BestReviews are providing this helpful guide on the basics of the condition, its treatment, and choosing and using the right CPAP mask for your specific needs.

    Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that goes undiagnosed in up to 80% of sufferers, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

    What is sleep apnea?

    This sleep disorder is marked by repeated periods of apnea – lack of breathing – often followed by a loud snort or gasp as breathing resumes. During each episode of apnea, which can last as long as 40 seconds, the oxygen level in the blood drops, triggering a very brief “micro-awakening” as the sufferer wakes up just enough to gasp for breath. Most people with sleep apnea are unaware of these micro-awakenings, which can happen hundreds of time per night in severe cases, but the condition prevents them from getting a good night’s sleep, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include the following:

    • Loud snoring

    • Gasps or snorts during sleep

    • Daytime fatigue (sometimes severe)

    • Morning headaches

    • Dry or sore throat
       

    While your doctor might suspect sleep apnea based on your symptoms, an official diagnosis requires a sleep study in which you’re monitored overnight for sleep quality and episodes of apnea.

    Three types of sleep apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

    This is the most common type of this disorder. In OSA, the back of the throat relaxes during sleep, allowing the uvula and other throat tissues to block the airway.

    Central sleep apnea

    While OSA is a mechanical problem caused by the physical structure of the throat, central sleep apnea is a neurological problem. In this condition, the sleeper’s brain doesn’t send a message to inhale, leading to a period of apnea before the sleeper awakens enough to gasp in a breath. Central sleep apnea often accompanies other very serious health issues such as stroke, heart disease, opiate abuse, or kidney failure.

    Mixed sleep apnea

    A person with mixed sleep apnea has both the central and obstructive forms of the disorder.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Your doctor will determine the optimal CPAP settings for your condition. The severity of your OSA can change over time, so it’s important to visit your sleep doctor regularly.

    Who gets sleep apnea?

    Several factors make it likelier that a person will develop obstructive sleep apnea, including the following:

    Excess weight: Although thin people can also have sleep apnea, the condition is far more common among people who are overweight or obese. Losing as little as 10% of one’s body weight is sometimes enough to alleviate the condition.

    Male: Men are three times likelier to have OSA than women.

    Age: Children can have sleep apnea, but it’s much likelier in adults middle-aged and older.

    Smoking: Smoking causes inflammation in the upper airway, which can cause OSA. Smokers are three times likelier to have OSA than nonsmokers.

    Physical characteristics: Some people simply have narrow airways or thick necks, making it easier for throat tissue to restrict the passage of air during relaxed sleep.

    Alcohol or medication: Alcohol and sedatives both relax the throat muscles, which can cause apnea.

    The dangers of sleep apnea

    OSA is a serious health condition that can potentially lead to life-threatening complications such as the following:

    High blood pressure: Repeated episodes of apnea lead to elevated blood pressure, putting strain on your heart.

    Heart disease: Sufferers of sleep apnea are at much higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms.

    Depression: Along with difficulty concentrating, memory loss, irritability, and fatigue, depression is a common companion of sleep apnea.

    Diabetes: Sufferers of OSA are likelier to develop type 2 diabetes.

    Surgery complications: Sleep apnea increases the risk of complications during and after surgery.

    Accidents: The daytime fatigue caused by sleep apnea increases the likelihood of car accidents or other mishaps.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Many people with sleep apnea experience a significant reduction in symptoms after just a few night’s sleep with CPAP.

    CPAP and sleep apnea

    There are several types of treatment for OSA, including surgery and dental appliances that reposition the jaw during sleep, but the most common and effective form of treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A CPAP machine delivers a constant stream of air through a facemask that fits over the nose and mouth: in effect, the sleeper exhales against a current of air. This steady airway pressure prevents the throat tissues from collapsing during sleep and prevents apnea.

    A CPAP setup consists of a rented or purchased machine that pressurizes room air, a mask with straps to secure it to your face, a hose to connect the mask to the machine, and often a humidifier to add moisture to the air delivered through the mask. There are different types of CPAP machines. Your doctor or home healthcare technician will determine the best one for you.

    Types of CPAP masks

    Once you’re diagnosed with OSA and prescribed CPAP, you’ll need to choose a mask to use with your machine. Masks come in a range of sizes. There are many different brands and three basic styles.

    Full-face masks

    These masks completely cover your nose and mouth. This is the best choice if you tend to breathe through your mouth or have chronic nasal congestion. Typically, the body of the mask is hard plastic with a puffy silicone rim for a secure seal against your face. Straps around the upper and lower portion of the mask hold it in place.

    Pros:

    • Good for those with high pressure settings

    • Good for people who sleep on their back
       

    Cons:

    • Harder to achieve secure seal

    • Uncomfortable for some users

    • Difficult to wear with glasses or while watching TV in bed

    • Not good for people who sleep on their stomach

    Nasal masks

    These are the most popular type of CPAP mask. These masks fit securely over your entire nose from upper lip to bridge, leaving your mouth uncovered. Like full-face masks, most nasal masks are hard plastic with a puffy or inflated silicone rim to provide a tight seal.

    Pros:

    • More comfortable for many users

    • Can wear glasses with mask

    • Feels more “natural” while breathing

    • Stays in place better if you shift positions a lot

    • Many available styles
       

    Cons:

    • Not good for those with chronic nasal congestion

    • Not good for mouth breathers

    • Can irritate bridge of nose

    • Can leak if the user has mustache

    Nasal pillows

    These are the smallest type of CPAP mask. With these devices, soft, inflated “pillows” or cushions sit right at the nasal openings to deliver pressurized air directly into the nose. There is no bulky mask covering the rest of the face, just a strap holding the nasal pillows in place.

    Pros:

    • Lightweight and less “claustrophobic” than other masks

    • Can wear glasses, read, watch TV in bed

    • Less likely to leak

    • Good for users with facial hair

    • Good for people who toss and turn
       

    Cons:

    • Not suited for users with high pressure settings

    • Not good for mouth breathers

    • Not good for those with chronic nasal congestion

    • Can dry out the nose and cause nosebleeds

    EXPERT TIP

    Insurance companies generally require you to use your CPAP equipment a certain number of hours per night to qualify for coverage.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    Follow your doctor’s recommendations for CPAP settings and hours of use.

    Know how to set up and use CPAP gear. Be sure your medical equipment provider shows you how to set up your CPAP machine, how to adjust the mask’s straps, and how to achieve a secure fit.

    Make sure the mask fits correctly. Your mask needs to fit securely enough to prevent air leaks, but it shouldn’t be painful, rub or irritate your skin, or press too hard against your upper lip, chin, or nose. If it does any of these things, and adjusting the straps does not remedy the situation, you might need to try a different brand, size, or style of mask.

    Get used to wearing the mask. Start by wearing your mask during the day while reading, watching TV, or doing other daytime activities around the house.

    Wear the mask for short periods at first. For the first few nights, you might want to wear your mask for just an hour or two and then slowly increase the duration of wear until you can tolerate the CPAP mask all night long.

    Ramp up the pressure. Many CPAP machines have a “ramp” function that slowly increases the pressure until it reaches the prescribed setting. This gentle ramping-up of pressure makes CPAP much more tolerable for many new users.

    CPAP mask prices

    Your medical insurance might cover the price of your CPAP equipment, which can cost from $100 to more than $150. If you prefer to purchase your own mask and straps, expect to pay $100 and up for a nasal mask or nasal pillows, or $150 and up for a full-face CPAP mask.

    Prices vary considerably based on the brand and the equipment provider, so it pays to shop around.

    The right CPAP mask fits securely, does not leak around any of the edges, and is comfortable on your face.

    FAQ

    Q. Why does my nose feel stuffy and runny in the morning after I take off my mask?

    A. It’s probable that dry air is causing your discomfort. Alleviate your nasal symptoms by adding a humidifier to your CPAP setup if possible. If not, using a saline nasal spray before bed might help.

    Q. How do I clean my CPAP mask?

    A. It’s important to clean your CPAP gear regularly, and more frequently if you’ve had a cold or other respiratory illness. Clean the mask, hose, and straps in a mixture of warm water with a small amount of antibacterial hand soap at least once per week. Rinse all the CPAP components thoroughly and let them air-dry completely before use.

    Q. Why does my CPAP machine make so much noise?

    A. While newer CPAP machines are very quiet, some older units are quite loud. If you’re truly bothered by the sound of your machine, you might want to talk to your healthcare equipment provider about obtaining a newer, quieter machine. Also, a dirty air filter can cause the machine to make more noise than usual. Regularly clean or replace the air filter to remove dust that might be blocking the airflow.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer