CPAP is a treatment used in respiratory therapy to alleviate symptoms such as restless sleeping caused by conditions of apnea. Apnea is the intermittent absence of breathing in a patient and often occurs during hours of sleep. CPAP works to maintain a positive airway pressure in the airways of the patient by applying gentle air pressure on the airways through an air delivery system. Generally, the delivery system involves a CPAP mask designed to accommodate the patient’s breathing patterns and comfort preferences. There are many different types of CPAP masks available on the market. Determining which CPAP mask is the right one for the patient is determined by a number of factors including the way they breathe and what is most comfortable for them.
CPAP mask users who breathe mostly through the nose will probably utilize masks covering only the nose. These are the original and most popular design of CPAP masks available. Nasal CPAP masks cover the whole nose in a triangular shaped plastic or silicone dome. They can also enclose only the nostrils at the base of the nose in CPAP mask designs called nasal prong masks. These types of CPAP masks are the most light-weight and unrestrictive forms of CPAP therapy available. The reduced constriction of the patient’s mouth is desirable for most patients. Nasal CPAP masks also can irritate the patient’s nostrils which will prevent their use.
Oral CPAP masks utilize only the mouth to deliver the positive airway pressure treatment to the patient. Oral CPAP masks are used for patients who are primarily mouth-breathers because of pre-existing nasal obstruction, congestion or simply preference. They have flaps that rest against both the lips and the teeth that stabilize the mask on to the patient.
Patients who breathe through both their nose and mouth can use a full face CPAP mask. Full face CPAP masks provide coverage for both the nose and mouth and encircle them in a large rectangular or triangular shaped silicone or plastic dome. The mask shape chosen depends on the patient’s preferences for comfort and facial shape. Some patients may also lose air from their airways through their eyes and require the use of a circular CPAP mask that covers the eyes, mouth and nose areas. This type of CPAP mask is called a total CPAP mask. These CPAP masks are often heavier and more cumbersome than the nasal or oral mask alone. Patients who use them have often tried using nasal or oral masks before without success.
Choice of CPAP mask can be a daunting and challenging task. Physicians or sleep specialists can be extremely helpful in assisting patients in choosing the right type of CPAP mask for their treatment needs and comfort level. Consulting with a professional can make the transition into CPAP therapy easier on the patient. CPAP masks can be very beneficial in improving a patient’s life and future health prospects by preventing more serious chronic conditions such as obesity, heart attack, hypertension, diabetes or stroke. The type of CPAP mask patients choose is integral to the effectiveness and ease of use of any CPAP device.
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