CPAP Mask Leaks: Causes & Simple Solutions

Respireo Full Face CPAP Mask | Intus Healthcare

Last updated on January 31st, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Why is my CPAP mask leaking so much?

It is common for mask leaks to happen as you move around throughout the night, shifting your mask seal. However, if this is persistent, it could affect the quality of your therapy and your sleep. This article will help and support you with solutions for mask leaks. If you notice your CPAP mask is leaking air after a few hours, do not worry as this can be easily fixed and resolved.

There is not just one cause for your mask leaking.  Different factors can affect the seal of your CPAP mask. When mask leaks occur, it decreases the effectiveness of your CPAP therapy.

CPAP masks are designed to have small intentional exhaust leaks so that you exhale CO2, but unintentional leaks can cause a dry mouth or nose and compromise your therapy. 

Here are some causes of CPAP air leaks:

  • Poor fit – If your mask is not fitting correctly, mask leaks can happen. If your mask is not tight enough or if it is gaping around your mouth or cheeks, the air can escape. However, if your headgear is too tight or loose, it will affect the functionality of your mask.
  • Old mask – We recommend changing your mask every 6-12 months and your mask cushions every 1-3 months. It is not recommended to use an old mask, as it will have signs of wear and tear. The components such as the cushions do deteriorate over time, which affect the seal of your mask.
  • Cushion size is ill-fitting – Your mask cushion may no longer be creating a good seal, this can be due to a number of factors including weight loss or weight, side effects of medication which could cause swelling to the jaw and cheek area, hormonal disturbance such as thyroid diseases, any recent surgery, sinusitis,  stress or anxiety or the cushion is simply not the right measurement for your face.
  • CPAP cleaning – Keeping your mask clean is essential. Dirt and oils can break the seal of your mask and damage it. If you’re unsure, read our article on how to clean your CPAP equipment for helpful information.
  • How you breathe at night – You may have the wrong type of mask. If you breathe through your nose only, then a nasal mask would be the most beneficial. If you snore and/or breathe through your nose and mouth at night, a full face mask is recommended. Unsure? Then a full-face mask is always the best option.
  • Sleeping position If you are a restless sleeper and toss and turn throughout the night, it can knock your mask out of position. This ultimately affecting the seal. For this you could try a specialist CPAP Pillow and read our guide on CPAP masks for side sleepers to help you decide what mask is best for you.

You can look at the data on your CPAP machine to see if there is any indication of mask leakage. Ideally, you want the seal to be green on your machine and the leakage report to have a leak rate of up to 24 Litres per minute or less.

How can I tell my CPAP mask is leaking?

If your CPAP mask is leaking you will feel air blowing into your eyes. Leaking air makes an irritating hissing sound, which may be heard by you or your bed partner. You may also wake up with dryness around your mouth, eyes and nose.

Many Sleep Apnoea sufferers snore, and this stops when their therapy is correctly used. If you find you have started snoring again, this could be down to your mask leaking.

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How do I stop my CPAP mask from leaking?

Air leaks are a problem for many CPAP users, but with simple tips, leaks are easily solved. The effectiveness of your treatment depends on you solving your CPAP mask leaks.

Here’s our advice:

  • Ensure you have the correct size mask; our masks have sizing guides. You can find these in the downloads tab on the product page. Print these off to scale and easily find your correct size.
  • Our faces change shape when we lay down, so tightening your mask after you lie down will give you the best seal.
  • If your device has a ‘ramp’ setting option, take advantage of it. This feature will slowly increase the pressure of your device, minimising the likelihood of you taking off your mask throughout the night. 
  • Your CPAP pressure settings also impact the risk of leaks; you may need to change your settings. Weight loss or gain can impact your CPAP pressure settings. You should not change your pressure settings yourself; contact your sleep specialist. Contact us if you’re unsure what the numbers on your CPAP machine mean.
  • Trying a new mask can prevent leaks, there are a few different mask types to choose from and the one you have may not be the most suitable for you. Switching from a nasal mask to a full-face or visa-versa could be just what you need to do. The Fisher and Paykel Evora full-face or nasal masks are designed with stability wings to allow for as much movement as possible in your mask. You could also try a risk-free mask which are guaranteed to give you a good fit.
  • Being comfortable in your mask is essential. Make sure you are replacing your mask parts to get the full benefits of your CPAP.
  • At Intus Healthcare, we provides mask liners; these are soft, cotton fabric liners that fit between your mask and skin. The liner creates a comforting barrier, preventing air leaks, skin irritation and red marks
  • A CPAP chin strap can be added to your therapy to help reduce mask leaks. The soft chin strap material holds your chin in a comfortable and suitable position.  Encouraging you to breathe through your nose to stop a dry mouth or nasal passage. This is additional headgear to wear on top of your mask and can take some getting used to.

Is there a CPAP mask that doesn’t leak?

All CPAP masks risk leaking throughout the night, but if you wear the correct size, the seal should remain secure and prevent leaks. If your mask starts leaking when it has never before, this could be due to wear and tear, and you should replace your mask parts.

Summary

Your CPAP mask leaking signifies something is wrong with your supplies and is usually an easy fix.

If you know someone who could have Sleep Apnoea, we suggest they take our free online OSA risk assessment.

If you have any questions or need help with your CPAP mask leaks, contact us to speak with our friendly team. 

Helpful articles:

How your sleeping position affects your sleep

How to stop snoring with a CPAP machine

CPAP dry mouth: What causes it & ways to stop it

Author Danielle Myatt