A lightweight mask that offers a quick-release system that makes it easy to take off the face. Forehead brace keeps the mask from moving; seal is tight yet comfortable. Exhalation is quiet. Sizes run true for most wearers.
Comes with a bit of break-in period to adjust to wearing it. Most expensive mask on our shortlist.
Includes notable features for a reasonable price, including a forehead brace, quick-release closure, and soft silicone cushioning. Reasonably quiet and lightweight. Affordable.
Sizes run small. The downside of the forehead brace is that it can be a bit uncomfortable if you don't have the fit adjusted precisely.
Minimalist, lightweight design works well for users who prefer fewer components around the face. Very comfortable. Can easily be worn while wearing glasses.
Moisture buildup in tubing resulting in leaks is common with this mask. Doesn't always seal tightly.
With its one-size-fits-all frame, CPAP users need only fit the correct size cushion, saving money and time. Mask can flex inward slightly for storage.
Takes up a lot of room in travel storage bag. Must be pulled very tightly to the face, which could cause discomfort.
Fits only over the nose, which makes it a good choice for users who tend to breath through their nostrils. Nostril pillows are comfortable. Universal headgear is adjustable and fits most, even larger customers. Suitable for consumers who wear glasses or have facial hair.
Those who breathe through their mouths won't get optimal benefits from this over-the-nose model.
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.
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:
Gasps or snorts during sleep
Daytime fatigue (sometimes severe)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good for those with high pressure settings
Good for people who sleep on their back
Harder to achieve secure seal
Uncomfortable for some users
Not good for people who sleep on their stomach
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.
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
Not good for those with chronic nasal congestion
Not good for mouth breathers
Can irritate bridge of nose
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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