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Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is one of the gold standard treatments for sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that affects millions of Americans. CPAP machines deliver pressurized air intended to keep the airway open via a mask, meaning that choosing the right face mask has a significant impact on the treatment’s efficacy.
CPAP masks are available in various styles, from nasal pillows and nasal masks that supply air through the nose to full-face masks that provide air through both the nose and the mouth.
Although they are not right for everyone, full-face CPAP masks are an excellent choice for people who breathe through their mouths. Nasal masks are available with a chinstrap to discourage mouth breathing, but not everyone finds these effective or comfortable. Some people use a full-face mask every night, while others switch only when they are congested from allergies or illness. Full-face masks can also make high air pressure settings more comfortable.
You needn’t feel apprehensive if your doctor has recommended using a full-face mask. Modern full-face masks have a low profile to reduce claustrophobic feelings while offering a secure fit for your therapy. Finding the right mask can feel daunting, but learning more about full-face masks and what to look for can make the process easier.
The ResMed Quattro FX is a full-face CPAP mask that offers solid performance and a comfortable, low-profile design at a lower price than many similar models. The headgear has fewer facial contact points than most competitors since it contours against the crown of the head rather than across the forehead. While most people will likely find this design both comfortable and effective, very active sleepers may find that the headgear rides up during the night.
One of the Quattro FX’s most interesting features is its dual-walled air cushions. Intended to provide a tight seal regardless of the user’s movements during the night, the cushions may prevent air leaks and reduce next-day red marks on the face.
The Quattro FX’s headgear and cushion are both available in small, medium, and large sizes. They can be purchased separately, as can the elbow assembly and headgear clips, making it easier to prolong the life of the mask without fully replacing it. It should work with all CPAP machines with standard tubing, and it comes with a 90-day limited warranty.
The AirFit F20 by ResMed is a classic full-face mask that provides most users with an effective, comfortable seal regardless of their facial shape. The mask and headgear have seven contour points and wings that provide a close, adaptive fit without excessive pinching or rubbing. This model’s emphasis on comfort continues with other aspects of its design, including a soft nose bridge, a frosted silicone cushion that some people find less irritating, and a headgear design that contours around the chin for extra support.
Thanks to its special design, the AirFit F20 should remain quieter than many options on the market. It features QuietAir venting technology, which uses multidirectional openings to break up exhaled air and allow venting from multiple areas. This is intended to reduce noise and make the mask gentler.
Customers can purchase the AirFit F20 with small, medium, or large headgear, although the cushion is only available in small or medium. Both the headgear and cushion can be purchased separately for regular replacement. This face mask is compatible with all CPAP machines that use standard tubing and is covered by a 90-day limited warranty.
Best Full-Face Mask for Side Sleepers
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The DreamWear by Philips Respironics has an innovative design that may make it an appealing choice for anyone who needs a full-face mask with an ultra-low profile. Instead of covering the entirety of the nose and mouth, the DreamWear seals beneath the nose and lower lip for full-face performance that feels more like a nasal mask.
To complement this low profile, the DreamWear’s tubing connection is located at the top of the head. Active sleepers, side sleepers, and people who feel constricted by other full-face masks are all likely to appreciate this feature.
Four adjustment points on the DreamWear’s headgear make it easy to find a comfortable fit and effective seal. The mask and mask cushions are also available in an extra-wide design, along with standard small, medium, and large sizes, to ensure most users can find the correct fit.
The DreamWear has one-size-fits-all headgear that can be purchased separately, along with extra cushions and soft fabric wraps for the headgear. Since it uses standard tubing, the DreamWear should be compatible with nearly any CPAP machine. This face mask is backed by a 90-day limited warranty.
Choosing a CPAP mask can be intimidating. The right full-face mask can affect both the comfort and efficacy of your CPAP treatment, so it’s crucial you use a model that works for you. Learning more about how a full-face mask works and what to look for can make the buying process easier and less stressful. If you have any concerns, your healthcare team is a great source of both answers and recommendations about what to look for in a mask.
Understanding the factors to consider when buying a full-face CPAP mask can make the process less overwhelming. By assessing each of these categories carefully, you’ll be able to ignore persuasive marketing language and instead focus on the product’s potential benefits and drawbacks. Although individual categories may be more or less important to you, your doctor’s recommendations should always be the main deciding factor when buying a CPAP mask.
You should always follow your doctor’s advice about face mask style, fit, and features. They may even suggest specific models or brands that might work for you. Because your doctor is familiar with your particular needs, they are also the best source of advice if you have questions about the mask-buying process. If you have concerns about their guidelines or wish to buy a mask that does not follow their recommendations, it is crucial to speak to your doctor for clarification or approval before making your purchase.
Size & Fit
Your face mask must fit correctly for your CPAP therapy to be successful, but not all masks are available in all sizes. Measurements for a full-face mask are usually shown as height and width.
The standard height measurement is taken from the middle of your pupil to the indent in your chin. The mask should fit across the bridge of your nose, cover your mouth completely, and feel comfortable with no obvious pressure points. Headgear also plays a role in finding the correct fit, with the best full-face masks offering easy-to-use headgear adjustment features.
Some people find full-face masks more comfortable than other mask styles. Comfort is defined largely by fit. The correct fit should limit pinching and pressure points while forming a secure seal. If you experience discomfort, you should double-check that your mask is the right size. If you are still concerned, you may want to look for a mask with features like gel cushioning or padded headgear and/or consult your doctor.
Not all full-face masks are compatible with all CPAP machines, so it’s essential to double-check compatibility with your before purchasing a face mask. Your chosen mask may not be compatible with all types of heated tubing, or it may require unique tubing sizes that typically cost more than standard options. Compatibility is most likely if your mask is made by the same manufacturer as your machine, but all face masks should have compatibility details listed on their product pages.
While most full-face masks attach tubing to the nasal area, others run interior tubing to an attachment port on the forehead or the top of the head. Tube location is a matter of personal preference as long as the tubing does not dislodge during the night. Some people feel that a top-of-head connector opens their field of vision and makes it easier to move around in bed, while others find that a nasal connector is more comfortable and secure.
Every full-face CPAP mask has three components: the mask itself, the headgear to hold the mask on, and the pillow/cushion that creates a seal between your face and the mask.
All components are typically included with your initial mask purchase, but you will most likely need to replace parts independently to keep your mask in good condition. Your doctor can provide guidance on how frequently components should be replaced, but your insurance company may limit how often it will cover replacement equipment.
It can be uncomfortable to sleep on your side or stomach when using a full-face CPAP mask. If you prefer these sleeping positions, look for a full-face mask with a minimalist design and padded headgear. You may also want to choose one with a forehead or top-of-head tubing connection for a lower profile and less chance of dislodging the tubing while asleep. Regardless of the mask you choose, you may need to purchase a CPAP pillow with cut-out space for your mask if you tend to sleep on your side or stomach.
The mask portion of a full-face mask is typically made from hard plastic, but you may be able to choose from different materials for the cushion and headgear. Silicone is the most popular choice for the mask cushion because it is generally durable and non-reactive, though other options, like memory foam, are also available. Headgear is often made from a stretchy material, with nylon-spandex blends among the most common. However, fleece and cotton covers are also widely available to adjust the feel.
Full-face CPAP masks typically cost between $75 and $200, varying in price depending on their manufacturer, features, and complexity. As with all CPAP components, it is critical to choose a mask that works well for you rather than selecting the least expensive option. However, a more expensive mask is not necessarily the better choice. Once you have chosen a mask, comparison shopping online is usually the best way to find the lowest price on that model.
Most full-face masks come with a warranty that covers manufacturing defects and flaws. This warranty should be clearly stated online on the product page, though you may have to contact the manufacturer if you have further questions. Most warranties cover all mask components, though the mask itself may have different warranty terms than the headgear and pillow.
CPAP masks are available in several styles, including full-face, nasal, and nasal pillow. Different mask styles have varying benefits and downsides, with each mask type more or less suited for different people depending on factors like their PAP therapy needs, sleep position, and whether they breathe through their mouths.
While full-face masks provide an effective and comfortable mask solution for many CPAP users, they are not right for everyone. As with all aspects of your PAP therapy, you should speak to your healthcare team before switching to or from a full-face mask.
Who is Suited:
|Sleepers Who Primarily Breathe Through Their Mouths||Nasal masks only deliver pressurized air through the nose, making them ineffective for people who breathe through their mouths when they sleep. While some people use chinstraps to keep their jaw closed and discourage mouth breathing, a full-face CPAP mask may allow for comfortable and effective therapy if you frequently struggle to breathe through your nose.|
|Sleepers with a High CPAP Pressure Setting||For some sleepers, using high pressure levels with a nasal CPAP mask can irritate the sensitive nasal passages. Since full-face masks allow users to breathe through their noses and mouths, they can often alleviate discomfort for people who require high pressure settings for their PAP therapy.|
|Back Sleepers||Even full-face masks with a low-profile design are bulkier than nasal or nasal pillow masks. While it is possible to use a full-face mask if you sleep on your side or even your stomach, sleeping on your back is likely to be the most comfortable position if you use this mask style.|
Who is Not Suited:
|Sleepers with Facial Hair||Facial hair, particularly full beards, can prevent a full-face mask from forming a seal against the face. If your mask doesn’t seal correctly, air can escape and reduce the efficacy of your PAP treatment. Nasal masks, particularly nasal pillow masks, tend to work better for people with facial hair.|
|Some Side and Stomach Sleepers||Since full-face masks are bulkier than nasal masks, those who prefer to sleep on their side or stomach might find that a full-face mask presses into their face uncomfortably. Pressure on the side of the face can also compromise the mask’s seal and lead to leaking air.
While using a CPAP pillow can make it easier for some side and stomach sleepers to use a full-face mask, others may prefer switching to a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask.
|Some Active Sleepers||Full-face masks are easier to dislodge than most nasal or nasal pillow masks. If you are a particularly active sleeper, a full-face mask may not work for you. However, active sleepers who prefer full-face masks may be able to make this style for their needs by choosing a design with adjustable headgear and a top-of-head tubing connector.|
While we’ve covered the most common questions people have when buying a full-face CPAP mask, CPAP masks are a complex topic that can confuse many people. Your healthcare team is in the best position to answer your questions, address your concerns, and guide you towards a mask that will work well for your individual needs.
Your full-face CPAP mask should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to just under your lower lip, and it should form a comfortable seal with no noticeable pressure points. A too-small mask may pinch at the bridge of the nose, against your cheekbones, or beneath your mouth. On the other hand, a too-large mask might feel comfortable at first, but it will not form a proper seal against your face. It may also rub against your skin due to the incorrect seal.
Full-face CPAP masks usually cost between $75 and $200 depending on their complexity and features. Although the most expensive mask is not necessarily the best fit for your needs, it is important to choose a mask that suits you rather than focusing on the price-point. If you are struggling to purchase an effective full-face mask due to your budget, online stores often have the lowest prices and simplify comparison shopping.
Although not all insurance providers cover CPAP masks, those that cover PAP machines usually also cover other necessary components, like masks. The process can be complex, and your mask may not be covered or may only be partially covered, so be sure to review your provider’s terms before factoring insurance coverage into your budget.
CPAP masks, like PAP machines, require a formal prescription from a healthcare provider. Purchasing your CPAP mask in a brick-and-mortar store usually requires that you hand over your prescription as you would when buying prescribed medication, while buying from an online retailer generally involves uploading or faxing your prescription before making your purchase. Although the mask itself is a prescription item, CPAP mask components, like cushions and headgear, do not typically require proof of a prescription.
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