After a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea (obstructive, central or mixed), the next step is to buy a CPAP mask. Many users just go ahead and buy any mask that is offered by the local DME (Durable Medical Equipment) without checking whether the mask is a perfect fit, and does it have any issues.
The following tips throw light on important aspects that should be taken into consideration while choosing a CPAP mask.
Selecting Appropriate Mask for Sleep Study
While undergoing a sleep study, the user should choose the mask that is the best suited and works well. They should take help of sleep technician for this purpose. This will help them in understanding the process as well as make the entire mask purchasing process smoother.
Offline Purchase is Always Preferred
When it comes to getting the CPAP equipment, getting it from the local DME shop is always preferred. This would ensure that user can try out different types and if there are any issues, then the user can take it to the local DME’s office and either get the problem rectified or get it replaced, something which is not possible when purchasing online.
The CPAP user should ideally try different masks either from the same company or other companies and understand how it works. Ease and not looks of the mask should be the priority for the user. CPAP mask should be comfortable to the user and has to have a proper seal for airflow. Also, the straps should be adjustable to keep the mask in place.
If it is loose, there would be air leaks; can cause pain on the bridge of the nose as well as chances of breaking the seal are higher, both of which can be easily avoided. When the CPAP equipment gets set up, the user should talk with the DME and try to know everything about the mask and get maximum, if not all, doubts clarified.
The user should ensure that the DME does not try to provide a mask which is not up to the mark, either regarding quality or comfort. If the mask is not an appropriate fit when trying it in store, then the chances of it getting better over time or while sleeping are absolutely nil.
Mask Size and Style
The size (large, medium, small), style and fit (full face or nasal or both) of CPAP mask is primarily a personal preference, and the user should try out different types of masks to see what fits best. A common mistake that many make is opting for a big mask. The chances of leakage from a big mask are higher, hence choosing a smaller size is always preferred, unless otherwise explicitly instructed by the sleep medicine doctor.
Quick Release Clips
Some mask comes equipped with straps that have quick-release clips either in the front or on the side of the mask. The clips enable the user to quickly remove the CPAP mask in case the user suffers from CPAP claustrophobia.
Try out CPAP Masks
Ideally, the user should try out different types of masks before purchasing the appropriate one. While trying on the mask, the user should try these with a CPAP machine which is running at the user’s prescribed pressure setting. The user should try the mask while laying down in the typical sleeping position.
This is important since the fitting of masks are different when trying them while standing and trying them in sleeping position. If the mask interferes with the way, the user sleeps then the mask is not a proper fit and should be ideally replaced.
When planning to buy a mask from a DME, the user has to know whether the DME is covered by the insurance plan that he has. The user should also check whether the DME participates in the 30-day exchange/return policy, which many mask manufacturers offer. This is important because the user can exchange the mask if he finds it unsuitable without incurring any cost within the stipulated time.
While many DMEs tend to listen to user’s needs and are willing to go one step ahead, some DME are not so patient. In principle, they should work with the user to see what best fits the user, because any complaints against the DME would result in them losing customers, and can impact their business. Many DME’s hesitate in showing different types of masks to users since it costs them money.
The insurance company pays the DME a fixed amount for a particular interface, be it a $120 mask or $20 mask. This results in the DME trying to sell cheapest masks they have to their customers. The user should be firm while deciding the mask and should not accept any mask which they feel would not be right for them.
As always, in case of any problem, it is always advisable to get in touch with the prescribing doctor and do necessary changes under medical supervision.