At CPAPMan, one of the most frequents questions we get from sleep apnea therapy patients pertains to CPAP mask leaks, and how they can keep an optimal seal. As all patients know, a quality seal is vital for proper therapy: CPAP masks leak oxygen when they aren’t properly pressed against your face, which means you can’t get the air pressure you need to treat sleep apnea. Let’s discuss some of the best ways to prevent mask leaks.
The first step toward leak free therapy should be taken before you ever purchase a mask. Take a look at the different types of masks out there – full face, nasal, nasal pillow, and oral – and pick the one that looks best for you. If you’re a mouth breather, you’ll need a full face mask. If you wear a beard, you’ll probably want to use a nasal pillows mask, as facial hair often obstructs nasal and full face masks from sealing correctly. You should also take into account how you sleep: some masks, particularly full face masks, will become dislodged if you sleep on your side. By contrast, nasal masks usually stay attached for users who toss and turn at night.
Once you have the mask, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you don’t compromise your seal. First, you want to have your mask properly tightened. You don’t want to loosen your mask so much that you can see your straps dangling or see visible air pockets between the mask cushion and your face. At the same time, over-tightening your mask can cause problems too: if your straps are too tight, you run the risk of damaging your straps or over-compressing your cushions, both of which will harm the quality of your seal in the long run. You might also wake up with painful stretch marks or red facial blemishes if your mask is too tight. The bottom line is that your mask should never be uncomfortable.
Regular maintenance is also important. Over time, cpap mask cushions will compress and straps will lose their elasticity, both of which can prevent quality seals. Most people find that they have no problems if they exchange their cushions every sixty days and use new headgear every two to three months. Occasionally, other accessory parts of the mask will break, and these can also impact your seal until they’re replaced.
Finally, some people find that they can enhance their seal by using accessory supplies. Most manufacturers offer a variety of chinstraps that can be worn with their masks to ensure compliant therapy. These attachments keep your mask in place without necessitating the kind of rigid tightening that can break your mask or give you undesirable facial blemishes. CPAP hose lifts can also help by placing your hose and tube above your head, reducing the chances that it can drag your mask out of position. Remzzzz mask liners can also be worn to further stabilize your mask.
By following these tips, you should be able to consistently get great night’s of sleep apnea therapy, without having to worry about CPAP mask leaks!