CPAP Nasal Masks are Ideal for Most Patients
For those of you who are new to CPAP, or are just about to purchase a new CPAP mask, you should know that there are three different types of mask you can use. The smallest and lightest are the nasal pillow masks. These cover very little surface area on your face and are very light, but can become dislodged easier than most masks. Full face masks are durable and dependable – particularly for patients with facial hair – but they’re a little bigger than other masks, and aren’t ideal for all people. Instead, we believe that most patients will do best with nasal masks.
The nasal mask is ideal, particularly for new patients, because of the blend of comfort and effectiveness. Nasal masks seal around a patient’s nose, brushing gently against the nasal bridge and resting comfortably on the upper lip. These are not particularly sensitive parts of the face, and the mask’s cushions are relatively uniform and even surfaces ideal for helping you secure a durable seal. This serves the new patient two related benefits: increased compliance and reliable therapy.
Compliance is the key for all new patients. Roughly half of all patients new to CPAP therapy will abandon CPAP early on in their treatment, determining that they were either too uncomfortable or otherwise unable to make their therapy work. In most cases – not all, but most – the culprit behind abandoned therapy is an uncomfortable mask. It’s easy to see why: masks are not natural, we’re not used to having one on our face when we go to sleep, and if you’re using one of the many masks without any kind of comfort feature, it’s going to be a struggle to relax while it pinches on the skin.
While not all nasal masks will offer all of the comfort you’d expect in a modern CPAP mask, many do. Nasal masks are built to blend comfort with durability, and there are a number of reliable masks with cushions that will sit lightly on your face. The AirFit N10 from ResMed, for example, is the kind of mask that can increase a new patient’s compliance. Built with a silicone seal that rests gently against your upper lip and nasal bridge, the N10 is the lightest nasal mask on the market. The plastic on the mask frame is exceptionally lightweight, and the cushion’s bubble seal doesn’t require you to overtighten your mask.
While the AirFit is one of the newest masks on the market, there are other older favorites that will accomplish the same objective. The ResMed Mirage FX, Respironics Wisp, and ResMed Swift FX Nano are all comfortable nasal masks that have been helping patients with their compliance for years. The bottom line is, as a new CPAP patient, you need to do everything you can to stick with your therapy over time. When it comes time to choose a mask, we recommend that you pick a nasal initially, and adjust if that mask doesn’t quite work how you like it.