CPAP Mask Buying Guide

CPAP Mask Buying Guide - How to Select and Buy a CPAP Mask

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines are the number one treatment for sleep apnea. If you're starting with your CPAP or wondering if you have the right mask, this guide will show you how to choose and get the most out of your CPAP therapy.

The Importance of a Well-Fitting CPAP Mask

The purpose of wearing a CPAP is to avoid periods of apnea (pauses in breathing) while you sleep. Your CPAP Mask must fit properly to provide optimal therapy. Without a well-fitting mask, it might slide around or come off during sleep or cause leaks, which prevent you from reaching your prescribed pressure.

If the leak is large enough, your airways won't remain open, and snoring and apnea may occur.

A well-fitting mask also prevents dry eyes, skin irritation, and excessive noise that might prevent you from sleeping.

Choosing the Best CPAP Mask

Your CPAP mask should be comfortable for you and provide optimal CPAP therapy. Many masks are available, and the one suitable for you depends on your personal needs.

Before reading about the different CPAP masks, consider your answers to these questions.
  • Are you a stomach sleeper?
  • Do you wear glasses to read before bed?
  • What CPAP pressure do you require?
  • Are you claustrophobic?
  • Are you an "active sleeper?"
  • Do you breathe through your mouth or nose while you sleep?
Keep your answers in mind while deciding on a mask.

Types of CPAP Masks

There are five types of CPAP masks.
  • Nasal Masks
  • Nasal Pillows
  • Full-Face Masks (Oronasal Masks)
  • Total Facemasks
  • Oral Interfaces
Nasal masks, nasal pillows, and full-face masks are the three types of masks generally used for in-home CPAP therapy. Total facemasks and oral interfaces are less commonly prescribed.

Nasal Masks

Nasal CPAP Masks are the most popular choice for CPAP users. They fit over the nose only and are ideal for those whose mouths remain closed during sleep and can inhale and exhale through the nose. Nasal masks are less bulky than full-face masks that fit over both the nose and mouth, and people with claustrophobia tend to prefer nasal over full-face masks.

Although less bulky than full-face masks, nasal masks can still feel uncomfortable to stomach sleepers. Also, you cannot wear them with glasses. And facial hair, similar to full-face masks, can prevent an optimal seal.

Nasal mask may be for you if:
  • You require a CPAP pressure of 10 cmH2O or higher.
  • You are claustrophobic.
  • You are not a stomach sleeper.
  • You are a nose breather while sleeping.

Nasal Pillows

Nasal Pillows Masks have two small, flexible pieces (pillows) that fit gently into the nostrils and use an adapter to attach to the CPAP tubing, unlike a nasal mask that sits over the nose. Nasal pillow masks are supported by a plastic frame that attaches to adjustable headgear.

Like nasal masks, nasal pillows are recommended for those with closed mouths while sleeping. They ideal for people with claustrophobia or skin irritations from interface materials. They're also an excellent choice for people with facial hair. Nasal pillow masks are not recommended for people with a required CPAP setting of 10 cmH2O or above.

Nasal pillows might be for you if:
  • You require a CPAP pressure of 10 cmH2O or less.
  • You have facial hair.
  • You're a nose breather and sleep with your mouth closed.
  • You are claustrophobic.
  • You're a stomach sleeper.
  • You're an "active" sleeper.

Full-Face CPAP Masks

Full-face CPAP masks, also called oronasal masks, fit over the nose and mouth. The headgear is secured on the face and sometimes across the forehead. Full-face masks are ideal for anyone with trouble breathing through the nose, whether because of a deviated nasal septum or frequent nasal infections.

Since full-face masks deliver pressure through the nose and mouth, they tolerate higher CPAP pressures. However, full-face masks are bulkier than nasal masks or pillows and are not a good fit for claustrophobics or stomach sleepers.

Full-face masks might be for you if:
  • You require a high CPAP pressure.
  • You have trouble breathing through your nose.

Other CPAP Masks

Total face masks and oral interfaces are other CPAP mask types but are not often prescribed.
  • Total Face Masks: Total face masks cover the whole face, from the forehead to the chin. They're sometimes prescribed for patients with facial irregularities.
  • Oral Interface Masks: Oral interface masks, which fit over the mouth only, are less commonly prescribed and work well for people with chronic nasal obstructions.

Ensure the Proper Fit

Once you identify the type of mask you want, you'll need to ensure the proper fit. CPAP masks are not one-size-fits-all, and choosing a size can be tricky. View our <>b>CPAP Mask-fitting guide. In many cases, the website provides the measurements, and you can use a tape measurer or ruler to measure your face and compare it to the sizing of the mask.

If you're unsure, work with your healthcare provider or respiratory therapist.

Getting The Most Out of Your CPAP Therapy

If you have sleep apnea and your doctor prescribed a CPAP machine, remaining compliant with your CPAP therapy is crucial for your health. Not only does CPAP therapy help you sleep better, but it also helps to prevent further health complications that arise from untreated sleep apnea.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your CPAP therapy:
  • Remain compliant: Continue therapy every night and use your CPAP as prescribed.
  • Communicate with your provider: If you have problems with your CPAP machine or the fit of your mask or think your therapy needs adjustments, communicate with your doctor or respiratory therapist. It's also critical to let them know if you've had significant weight changes since that could mean you need a new mask or pressure adjustment.
  • Keep your mask clean: Follow the instructions from your healthcare provider or CPAP manufacturer to know how and how often to clean your mask. Make sure to keep your mask clean, cleaning more frequently if you're sick.
With the right mask and proper fit, you'll enhance your CPAP therapy, allowing you to sleep better and live optimally.


Updated: November 21, 2022

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