Nasal masks and pillows or cushions and full face masks are terms synonymous with sleep apnea. There is also the association of sleep apnea treatment with bulky devices and gadgets needed to ensure a restful sleep.
Sleep apnea poses several challenges to the individual. In the first place, it does not get diagnosed as a disorder because most people do not realize that they might be suffering from it. Family members or spouses and room or bed partners are usually the ones who identify the apnea through symptoms such as snoring or breathing lapses. However, a complete diagnosis can only be made after a sleep test is conducted by a health official or a medically trained person. After the diagnosis though, individuals are also daunted by the prospect of wearing nasal or even full face masks to bed.
Part of the problem with the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment is compliance. CPAP therapy is a system where air is delivered from a machine, through a system of nasal and n95 masks. It requires a machine that pumps the air at a pre-designated pressure and depending on the mask, this air is delivered to the individuals’ airways directly, thus removing the obstructions that lead to apnea in the first place.
Choosing the mask
Technically, the mask type is determined by the air pressure designated by the therapist. The severity of the apnea and other things like mouth breathing can influence the choice of a mask. Nasal masks differ from full face masks in a number of ways:
> For individuals who tend to breathe through the mouth, a full face mask may work better than a nasal one.
> A full face mask is also more beneficial in case of dry throat or dry nose.
> Nasal masks are equally efficient at providing air pressure, but for those who would like the option of also breathing through the mouth, a full face mask can prove helpful. With a full face mask, breathing is possible through both, the nose and the mouth.
> Nasal masks can enable ease of movement during sleep.
Regardless of the type of mask you choose, you must ensure that it is comfortable enough to ensure compliance with therapy. A mask that leaks is of no use. Or if you are using a nasal mask and you discover you have a dry mouth in the morning, you are probably breathing through the mouth. In such cases, you must switch to a full face mask to ensure you get the full benefit of your CPAP therapy. Ideally, masks should be tried to check for fit and comfort. Choose your mask from a vendor who is well-informed about the condition you suffer from, and has adequate variety to meet your needs. Also, masks should be made well and ensure that they are built and cushioned against leaks.