Comparison: How to
choose the Correct CPAP APAP Nasal or Full Face Mask
September 16th 2005
There are basically three types of
CPAP masks. The most popular is the nasal mask that fits exclusively
around the nose. The Full face mask fits around the nose and the mouth,
and the new technology incorporates a nasal pillow that actually fits
into the nostrils. Each mask has their benefits and problems.
Many users of the nasal pillow love
the seal. The pillows provide a great seal and the sleeper does not
lose that seal when moving from side to side. For people that sleep on
their side, this is great.
When a mask loses its seal it blows
air out the side, waking the sleeper up. The problem with the nasal
pillows is they can irritate the nose. Many users have resorted to
ointments to solve this problem.
The nasal mask may be the most
popular of all of the masks. The nasal mask covers the nose and creates
a seal with a gel type material or other cell technology. The two most
popular manufacturers are Respironics and Resmed.
From personal experience, the Resmed
Activa has proven to be the best nasal mask. They have perfected the
seal. I have tried other masks including Respironics Comfort Curve,
Profile Lite and comfort select. Most nasal masks will come in at
least two different sizes so you will want to take some facial
measurements to determine the best fit.
The Repironics Comfort Curve is a
great design. The big draw back is the cheek pads. I am not sure why
they incorporated these large cheek pads, but they do not work for side
sleepers. It is like sleeping with huge rocks attached to the side of
your head. If Respironics were to change the headgear design they would
have a real winner on their hands.
The Activa is the preferred mask
because it does not leak. These leaks usually occur when a sleeper
rolls to the side causing the mask to push against the pillow. This
will jar the mask moving it away from the face. The sleeper will likely
wake up and have to adjust the mask. Each time this happens the sleep
The Activa is the first nasal mask
with ActiveCell Technology. The company tells us that “active sleep
demands an active seal!” I have found that even when I roll to the side
where the mask hits the pillow, the seal is rarely broken. In fact, the
mask works better when it is not tightened. A loose fit, under
pressure, creates a nearly perfect seal.
Many problems arise for nasal mask
users when their mouth opens. If the mouth opens air escapes through.
The mouth must be kept shut when a nasal mask is used. Some users have
resorted to using a strap around the head to keep the jaw shut.
If the mouth opens “puffing”
occurs. This is a term used on some of the message boards to describe
the condition where air shoots out the mouth. If this occurs regularly,
CPAP users should consider using a full face mask. This mask covers the
nose and mouth. If a person suffers from allergies or a cold, this type
of mask may be a benefit allowing the user to breathe through the mouth.
Both Resmed and Repironics make
these masks. The most popular full face mask is the Resmed Mirage Ultra
full face mask. This is a new version that replaced the Mirage II
mask. The Mirage Ultra has a drawback. The forehead pads are so large
that when the user turns to his or her side the pads hit the pillow
jarring the mask from the face. This is annoying and wakes the sleeper
up throughout the night.
The older Mirage II has a smaller
forehead pad. Here is the bad news. The Mirage II will be discontinued
throughout North and South American come October 1st 2005.
Some dealers may still stock the mask until they run out.
So there you have it. There are
many choices for CPAP mask users. That is a good thing. A decade ago
there were few choices and they were all bad. Today, with competition
and new technology, CPAP comfort has improved. I just can’t wait for
Resmed to come out with a Full Face Activa mask.
There are a few CPAP user forums
/ discussion boards. Sleep apnea is a serious condition and can
lead to heart failure, high blood pressure and a whole litany of
ailments. If you snore, it is likely you may have sleep apnea and
not know it. Here are two popular forum websites:
CPAP Talk and
Talk About Sleep
By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Keywords and misspellings: Activa acteva Respironics
Resprionix apnea sleap nasel CPAP APAP CFLEX