CPAP refers to continuous positive airway pressure which is a therapy that is used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. When you have this condition, your throat muscles relax when you are asleep and therefore block your airway. This causes you to stop breathing for a few seconds and you have to awaken partially to breathe in.
CPAP therapy makes use of a machine which blows pressurized air down your throat to keep the muscles from collapsing. Your airway therefore remains open and you can breathe with ease. In order to breathe in the pressurized air, you need to use a CPAP mask. There are a wide variety of CPAP masks available and you need to identify one that is suitable for you.
Selecting A Suitable Mask
CPAP masks are available in all shapes and sizes but there is a mask that will ensure that your therapy is as effective as it should be. If you normally sleep with your mouth open, you will need a full face mask which covers both your nose and mouth. A full face mask may also be suitable if your therapy requires a high pressure. You will however need to sleep on your back for this mask to work out for you.
The nasal pillow which is fitted at the edge of the nostrils is an ideal mask if you normally sleep on your side or stomach. It is the smallest of all the masks and fits well into the nostrils thus providing a good seal. This mask does not easily shift during sleep which reduces the risk of air leakage. The nasal mask which is fitted over the nose is suitable if you normally sleep on your side.
Headgear Used With Masks
CPAP masks are normally sold with a head strap which is secured on the head to keep the mask in place during therapy. You should ensure that you select a head strap which lies comfortably on your head. If you normally wake up at night to go to the bathroom, you should select headgear that can easily be disconnected and connected again.
Headgear is normally replaceable since it tends to lose elasticity with time. When the headgear becomes stretched, it will not give you a good fit since you will need to over tighten it. Over tightening the headgear can introduce some gaps in the mask which will lead to leakage of air thus interfering with the effectiveness of the therapy.
The cushions that are used with CPAP masks are made from a variety of materials including silicone, gel and cloth. The cushions get worn out over time and will therefore need to be replaced. Proper maintenance of your cushion can prolong its life; you should clean it often and keep it away from direct sunlight. You should also keep the mask in a safe place away from children and pets that can play with the cushion and ruin it.
You should read the user guide on how to clean the cushion and inspect it so that you can know when to make a replacement. You should make a replacement if you notice holes on the cushion which can cause the air to leak.