Three different CPAP machines wrapped around three different shoes

CPAP Masks Are Just Like Shoes

CPAP masks are just like shoes. You need to find one that is comfortable. How many of you have shoes in your closet that you bought, but have never worn because you thought they would be comfortable but they're not? Yep, me too!

Well, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks can be the same way. When you first tried that new mask out it seemed comfortable but when it was time to go to bed it didn’t seem to be as comfortable as you remembered it to be. I can tell you in my 5 years of being a CPAP user I have tried them ALL, and I have a bag of masks to show for it.

How to choose the right CPAP mask

When picking out a mask you first need to figure out which style fits your needs: nasal pillows, nasal mask, or full-face mask. Some classic questions that I like to ask my patients are:

  • Can you breathe through your nose?
  • Do you have a broken nose or deviated septum?
  • Do you get frequently congested?
  • Do you wake up with a dry mouth?

If you're like me, it may be trial and error. I started my journey by using nasal pillows. However, I quickly realized that my deviated septum and the constant urge to open my mouth were creating quite the problem.

From nasal pillows to nasal mask

I first recognized it when I was waking up with my mask off. I didn’t remember taking it off, but there it was most of the time on the floor. After giving it the good ole college try, I knew the pillows weren’t for me. So like any good patient does, I moved on to the next style, the nasal mask.

I must have tried 4 to 6 masks, trying to find that comfortable one. I soon discovered the same problem, waking up with my mask off or more annoying, waking up with a severely dry mouth. I mean the tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth, dry mouth.

Moving on to the full face mask

That’s when I knew it was time to move on and try a full face mask. I had put off trying a full-face mask because quite honestly, the thought of having a mask cover my nose and mouth terrified me. But as I soon discovered, being able to breathe through my mouth or my nose was so much more comfortable.

This was something I definitely could not do with my nasal masks. Simply because when I opened my mouth with a nasal mask the rush of air that came out of my mouth was uncomfortable and made me feel like I was gagging. This would force me to keep my mouth closed, but it made me feel claustrophobic. Which was why I was constantly raising my mask off in the middle of the night.

The right mask is waiting to be found

Ever since I discovered that a full face mask best suited my needs, I have been getting a great night's sleep. If you're not finding your mask to be comfortable or meeting your needs, I strongly suggest that you talk to your respiratory therapist.

With so many masks on the market, there is likely one that will meet your needs. You just need to take the time and find it.

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