An estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. Around one in every 50 individuals has sleep apnea but haven’t been diagnosed. The risks of sleep apnea are serious. From being four times more likely to having a stroke to three times as likely to experience a heart attack, if left untreated, sleep apnea can even lead to death. The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research attributes approximately 38,000 deaths each year to cardiovascular problems related to sleep apnea.
Often a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine is prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms and dangers of sleep apnea. The machine provides a constant stream of air through a mask or nose piece. It can be hard to know which CPAP supplies will work best for you. Preference among masks and nose pieces is divided, with 50% preferring a pillow to 45% preferring a nasal mask and 5% claiming they have no preference. This lack of a consensus only makes it harder to choose as what works for one person may not be comfortable for you.
To help you decide what CPAP mask may be best for you, consider your answers to the following nine questions:
- What pressure is your machine set to?
Often users of CPAP machines with high pressure settings experience greater trouble with the CPAP nasal pillows or nasal prong style masks. If you use a pressure of 14 or greater, consider a hybrid, oral, or full face CPAP mask. A hybrid mask offers the seal of nasal pillow masks while also sealing around the mouth. An oral mask, on the other hand, covers only the mouth.
- Do you sleep with your mouth open?
A full face mask may be best for you. If you don’t want to wear a full face sleep apnea mask, you can try wearing a chin strap while sleeping to keep your mouth closed.
- Do you experience frequent nasal congestion?
If so, an oral mask may be best for you as it seals only around the mouth. If you aren’t prone to congestion, you may found this mask type dries out your airways.
- Do you have a beard or other facial hair?
Before committing to a CPAP mask, ensure it can seal properly over your facial hair. A proper seal is the most important test of a good CPAP mask.
- Do you toss and turn or otherwise change position a lot during the night?
Make sure the CPAP mask you use adapts to frequent movement so as not to disrupt the seal.
- Do you like to read or watch TV in bed?
If you plan to engage in reading or watching television with your CPAP mask on, you might want to avoid masks that obstruct your range of vision.
- Do you want headgear that can be quickly disconnected?
Depending on the mask you choose, you may be able to get a design with quick clips or other technology to make taking the mask off easier. If you’re a frequent bathroom user during the night, this option may be worth considering.
- How important are replaceable cushions?
Some masks need to have the whole mask replaced when the cushions become worn whereas others have cushions that can be taken out and replaced.
- Is just thinking about these masks making you feel claustrophobic?
The CPAP nasal pillow and nasal prong styles offer the least amount of covering. The nasal pillow has a soft pillow which seals at the base of the nostrils. The mask is held in place with headgear and leaves your mouth exposed. It’s light weight, although some find the pillows irritating.
The nasal prong CPAP mask, on the other hand, seals inside the nostrils. The headgear is worn over the top of your head. Like the nasal pillow mask, it offers a lightweight and nonrestrictive design but can cause nasal irritation in some.
Now that you have an idea of the best mask for you, it’s time to find the best place to buy it. Even with insurance, buying full price as opposed to discount CPAP supplies can be a waste. It’s possible to find discount CPAP supplies through secondhand sellers. Discount CPAP supplies can include machines as well as new masks, and are a great way to find replacement parts. Ask your CPAP seller about discount CPAP supplies before you make your final purchase.