A sleep apnea custom fit mask can be used to deliver continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in the treatment of sleep apnea. Achieving a custom fit can make using the CPAP machine easier and more comfortable.
Types of Sleep Apnea Masks
There are three main types of sleep apnea masks. One type of mask fits over the nose. Another type, the nasal pillow, fits snugly under the nose. For patients who may breathe through the mouth during sleep, a mask that fits over the nose and mouth may be a better solution. The physician will work with the patient to decide which type of mask is best. Adjustable straps hold the sleep apnea mask in place during the night.
Sleep apnea masks can be ordered from supply companies and are available in basic sizes - i.e. small, medium and large.
Sleep Apnea Custom Fit Mask Strategies
Although the sleep apnea mask should be fitted by a respiratory therapist or other expert, there are other steps that can be taken to ensure a snug and tight fit around the nose. These strategies can keep a sleep apnea custom fit mask functional, safe and comfortable.
Selecting a Mask Size
Finding the right size of sleep apnea mask is an important part of obtaining a custom fit. Masks are not sized identically between manufacturers or style; wearing a small mask in one mask does not mean that a small mask would be appropriate in a different style or from a different manufacturer. A person should try on several different masks to make sure the mask selected has the best fit. A larger size mask may be needed for a person with a wider face. Masks may also vary in depth which may be important for people with larger noses.
Adjustable Head Gear
The straps should be adjustable to give the CPAP user a snug but comfortable fit in all sleeping positions. Quick-release clips attach to the mask in the front or on the side that allow for quick removal of the mask in the morning. The straps do not have to be readjusted as often when using the quick-release clips.
Customizing the Seal
Some brands of masks have custom gel that can conform easily to differently sized and shaped faces. This gel can also be boiled so that it can be molded to fit a specific patient's face. The person has to be careful to follow the instructions for customizing the mask because the hot gel could cause irritation or burns if not handled properly.
Customizing the Head Gear
Some sleep apnea masks are sold with standard head gear. However, head gear straps can be purchased separately; these may be available in a variety of colors, materials and sizes. All masks are not compatible with all sets of headgear straps so the patient needs to find out if a head gear set can be used with a certain mask.
Adjustable Wire in the Mask
Other sleep apnea masks contain a lightweight wire frame inside the cushion which can be molded to fit the face. The mask will bend easily with slight pressure. These masks can be returned to the original shape and remolded as needed.
Several masks have adjustable forehead spacers that allow the user to further customize the fit. By adjusting the gel spacer, the patient can increase the tilt of the mask and lessen the pressure on the bridge of the nose. These spacers can be made of foam but are more commonly made of silicone or polyurethane gel in current masks.
Nasal Pillow Sizes
Nasal pillow masks may come with multiple pillows of different sizes when purchased. This allows the patient to try each size to get the best fit.
Get the Best Fit
To obtain the best overall fit, the mask should be fitted by a sleep technician or other sleep specialist. The technician should test the fit of the mask when the patient is sitting up as well as when the patient is lying down. The specialist will explain how to use the adjustable head straps, gel spacers and the other adjustable options for the particular mask because the patient may have to make some adjustments during daily use to keep the fit.