Once a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea (obstructive, central or mixed), a CPAP mask is usually suggested. Let’s look at some important aspects that should be taken into consideration while choosing a CPAP mask.
Factors to Consider
While undergoing a sleep study, the user should choose the mask that is the best suited and works well. They should take the help of a sleep technician for this purpose. This will help understand the process as well as make the entire mask purchasing process smoother.
Offline Purchase is Preferred
When it comes to getting the CPAP equipment, the local DME shop is probably better. 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 the mask replaced.
The CPAP user should try different masks and understand how it works. Ease of use should ideally be the higher priority for the user, not the looks.
CPAP mask should be comfortable for the user and has to have a proper seal for airflow. Also, the straps should be adjustable to keep the mask in place.
If the mask is loose, air leaks could be an issue; which can cause pain on the bridge of the nose. Leaks can also increase chances of the seal breaking.
When the CPAP equipment is set up, the user should talk with the DME and try to understand everything about the mask and get all their questions clarified.
If the mask is not an appropriate fit when trying it on, then the chances of it getting better with time or while sleeping are very less.
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 bigger mask than necessary. The chances of leakage from a big mask is higher, hence choosing a smallest size that fits is usually best, unless otherwise explicitly instructed by the sleep 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 pair it with a CPAP machine running at the user’s prescribed pressure setting.
The user should try the mask while lying down in his typical sleeping position. This is important since the mask fit is often quite a bit different when trying them on while standing than trying them in the sleeping position with their prescribed setting. If the mask interferes with the way the user sleeps then the mask is not a proper fit.
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 within the stipulated time without incurring any cost.
While many DMEs tend to listen to user’s needs and are willing to go one step further, some DME are not so patient. In principle, the DME should work with the user to see what best fits the user. Many DME’s hesitate to discuss and demonstrate different types of masks to users since it costs them time and 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 cheaper masks. The user should be firm while deciding the mask and should not accept any mask which they feel is not 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 only under medical supervision.