Continuous positive airway pressure is a type of respiratory therapy used by many patients who have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a patient intermittently stops breathing during sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, maintains positive pressure in the lungs by gently sending air into the airways through a CPAP mask. CPAP masks are designed to fit the breathing patterns and accommodate the differences in comfort levels between patients. A couple of the different types of CPAP masks include those that cover either the nose or mouth alone or a hybrid coverage of both the nose and mouth.
CPAP masks covering only the nose are the original and most popular design of CPAP mask available on the market today. Nasal CPAP masks generally cover the entire nose in either a triangular shape or only enclose the nostrils at the base of the nose. A nasal prong CPAP mask resides within the nostrils and provides the most lightweight and un-restrictive form of CPAP therapy. These types of masks are the lightest and reduce constriction on a patient’s mouth. However, nasal CPAP masks may irritate patient nostrils. Oral CPAP masks use only the oral cavity to deliver positive pressure to the patient’s airways. An oral CPAP mask can be used for patients who must breath through their mouthes due to nasal obstruction or congestion. These types of masks have two flaps resting against the teeth and lips that stabilize the mask to the patient.
There are also CPAP masks that cover both the nose and mouth in a triangular, circular or rectangular fashion. A full face CPAP mask covers both the nose and mouth in a large triangular shape. This type of mask is utilized in patients who breathe through both their mouths and noses during sleepi. Circular CPAP masks are often total face masks that enclose a large portion of the face, including the mouth, nose and eyes. Total CPAP masks are used for patients who lose air through their eyes. Rectangular masks are similar to triangular full face masks and seal off both the nose and the mouth. A rectangular CPAP mask covers only the nostrils and not the entire nose like the full face CPAP mask. All three of these types of masks are generally heavier and bulkier than other masks. They are commonly utilized by patients who have had issues using nasal masks alone.
The type of CPAP mask to choose can be a difficult decision. A physician or a sleep specialist can be helpful in making the transition to using a CPAP system easier. CPAP masks can be instrumental in improving patients’ lives as well as their future health. This type of therapy can prevent chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiac failure. Choosing the right kind of CPAP mask is important in ensuring CPAP devices are effective and easy to use and incorporate into daily life.
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