A leaky CPAP mask is a serious problem. If air is escaping from your mask, that means you aren't getting the proper air pressure you need to completely treat your sleep apnea. It can also cause discomfort in the airways and nasal passages, causing them to dry out and become irritated, even with the use of the CPAP humidifier.
The air coming from your CPAP machine through the mask is supposed to act as a splint to hold your airways open while you sleep. Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, you might need a higher air pressure than someone with a less severe case of sleep apnea.
This is why it's so important to always get the correct air pressure. Don't want to feel worse or put your health in danger, and you don't want to be using the CPAP machine for nothing.
There are two different types of CPAP mask leaks that you should be aware of. If you notice one of these leaks, you should let your sleep therapist know as soon as possible, or something yourself to fix the problem.
Seal Leak. The leak in the seal of the CPAP mask is the most common kind of leak. This is often caused by an ill-fitting mask, and it happens when there's a small space between your face and the seal.
Mouth Leak. This happens when you breathe with your mouth open while you sleep, and the air coming from the mask escapes from your throat out of your mouth.
What happens when your CPAP mask leaks?
Both of these types of mask leaks can cause the same problems. If the pressure isn't being maintained, not only will it affect your health, but it can also impair the machine's sensors, and how the CPAP can respond with the right amount of air pressure. This will ultimately cause your CPAP machine to break down faster and need to be maintained more than usual.
A leak in the seal can cause air to blow on your face and in your eyes, which is a very annoying sensation. This is also when nasal irritation takes place because the air isn't going where it's supposed to.
How do you prevent CPAP mask leaks?
If you get a seal leak, it might be because of a crease in the seal, either from tightening too much or from moving and causing the seal to bend. Turn off the machine and pull the mask away from your face, just enough to straighten out the curve, and rest it back against your face.
You can also choose a high quality mask that won't bend in the seal. You can wear the mask looser, and it still won't create a leak.
Another solution is a special pillow called a CPAPillow, which is shaped in a way to prevent leaks.