For someone who has never used a CPAP machine, the thought of using anything other than a nasal mask can be frightening. However, once that person tries out full face masks and gets the hang it, they'll find that these types of masks can deliver excellent results and allow for much greater freedom and comfort during sleep.
Here are some effective tips for choosing the best full face CPAP mask:
Know your size
One of the most important aspects to consider is that different manufacturers make masks in varying sizes. If you choose a mask that is too big or too small, it can cause leaks and discomfort. You can get an idea for which masks are available from your provider just by calling them up, but be sure to go into the office and get measured before you order a mask.
Know your style
Another important factor to consider is the type of full face CPAP masks that are available. There are three main styles: one piece, which has no removable parts; two pieces, where the cushion comes out for cleaning and replacement; and hybrid, which takes elements of both one and two piece masks. There are also full face masks designed to be worn under eyeglasses, as well as models that can provide a more custom fit with certain accessories.
Know your options
Full face CPAP masks vary tremendously in terms of features and design. Some have microphones built-in for communication with another person in the room, while others can feature integrated heated humidifiers. Some make it easier to sleep on your side with the addition of pillows on the cushion. All of these features are available in some full face masks but not others, so check which ones match your needs and requirements before making a decision.
Know that comfort is important
Your mask should provide a comfortable, leak-free fit every time you wear it. If you are having issues where your mask keeps leaking or causing discomfort, do not try to adjust it yourself. When you're first trying out any full face CPAP mask for the first time, ask your provider to help you get adjusted - they will ensure that the mask is fitted properly and that it's comfortable for you.
Know that cleaning is important
As with any CPAP mask, it's vital to clean your full face mask every day after use. Daily wipe down is normally enough to keep it free of debris and germs, but you'll want to take it off nightly, remove the cushion, and clean thoroughly with warm water and mild soap. Be sure not to rub too hard on the cushion - only use light pressure to avoid damaging it. Resilient materials such as silicone can be cleaned and reused. The importance washing your mask daily with mild soap, especially the part that is in contact of your skin, is to remove the excess oil from your skin which can add instability to your mask.
Know that you are not alone
The key to getting the best results is being able to communicate with your provider, who can tell you what's likely to work best for you. Be sure to share any concerns or issues with them, so they can help troubleshoot and adjust your mask accordingly. Keep in mind that they may be able to recommend alternative products, too, if your primary option is not working out.
Know what you can do at home
To ease discomfort or help address leaks, try varying the tightness of the straps on your full face mask before bedtime. Pull each strap slightly to tighten them and see how it feels once you've settled in for the night. If your mask is still leaking or causing discomfort, then try loosening them very slightly until you find that comfort zone. Remember air leaks can disrupt your spouse's sleep from the noise or create dryness.
Know what your provider can do for you
If you are still having trouble with leaks or comfort, ask your medical equipment supplier to recommend another option. If the mask needs to be adjusted, they should help you find a better fit - if it just isn't working out for any other reason, then they can help suggest other options that may be more comfortable or effective for you.
Full face CPAP masks can be great for people with sleep apnea. They can provide a more comfortable experience for people who are new to CPAP therapy, and they also offer options for those who need to wear eyeglasses or want something more customizable.
However, ensuring that you have the right mask with the proper fit is crucial to achieving effective results. Hopefully this article has given you some ideas of what questions to ask when you go in to try on a new mask, and what factors you might want to consider before making your purchase.
Be sure to check out all of the tips presented in this article when shopping for any full face CPAP mask. When in doubt, ask your medical equipment supplier for help with finding a product that meets your requirements and works for your personal comfort.