Improving Your CPAP Therapy
How can I make my CPAP mask more comfortable?
Being comfortable with your mask is key for successful CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy.
A dry mouth, air leaks and red marks are all uncomfortable side effects.
There are a few factors to consider and solutions to ensure you are as comfortable as possible with your CPAP mask.
This page will provide you with ways to solve discomfort and enhance comfort.
Choose the best CPAP mask size
Many CPAP masks come in different sizes; when ordering one of our masks, you can find your size easily – by scrolling down to the ‘downloads’ tab and printing off the sizing guide – so you get the best fit possible.
There is also the option of choosing a risk-free CPAP mask for these; we guarantee a comfortable fit. Or you can return your mask for a refund.
CPAP mask fit packs
We also offer a CPAP mask fit pack; these masks come with multiple cushion sizes, so you won’t need to measure your face.
Mask fit insurance
With most of our CPAP masks we offer the option of adding our unique mask-fit insurance. The insurance allows you to try your new mask for 28 days; if you do not find it comfortable, you may return it.
Intus Healthcare advice: Practice wearing your mask throughout the day to get used to the feel gradually. It can take up to a month to get used to new mask.
How do I prevent red marks from my CPAP mask?
A silicone allergy or CPAP dermatitis causes red marks, skin irritation and rashes from your mask.
To prevent an allergy from disrupting your therapy, consider a SleepWeaver skin-friendly mask made entirely of fabric.
Alternatively, a popular option is to use a CPAP mask liner to provide a protective barrier between the CPAP mask and your skin.
Often red marks can be reduced by loosening the headgear straps, reducing the pressure on the skin. However, another solution must be found if this causes air to leak.
Why is my CPAP mask leaking?
CPAP masks are designed to have small intentional exhaust leaks so that you exhale CO2; this doesn’t affect your therapy compliance.
If your CPAP mask was previously sealed well and is now starting to leak, then the cushion may be reaching the end of its life. Through use, the silicone used in most CPAP masks loses strength and becomes sloppier and, therefore, less able to maintain a seal.
Tightening the headgear can offset this to a degree, but eventually, this will not be sufficient. Replacing the cushion should solve that problem, though if the cushion alone is not replaceable, then a new CPAP mask would be required.
If the mask is new and, even after following fitting guides and videos (most masks have excellent fitting guides on YouTube from other CPAP users that we recommend) but are still finding the mask leaks, then it may be the wrong size. Leaks into the eyes are particularly suggestive of the CPAP mask is too big, either in height or width. A smaller size may solve the problem.
If the mask initially seals well but gets dislodged by your pillow when you change position, you can consider a CPAP pillow. These feature cut-outs are designed for your CPAP mask to fall into when you sleep on your side, stopping the mask from dislodging.
How long does a CPAP mask last for?
Unfortunately, your CPAP mask can’t last forever.
The average life span of a CPAP mask is around 8 to 12 months; sometimes, this can be longer and sometimes shorter. The life depends on a number of factors; how often it is used (and for long), how it is washed (and how often), the wearer’s skin oils and sweat levels and numerous other factors.
Over time the cushion on the mask will wear out, much like if you were to wear the same shoes every day. When this happens, its ability to maintain a good seal reduces. Many CPAP masks have replaceable cushions, which provide a more cost-effective way of replacing the worn cushion rather than replacing the entire mask.
We recommend replacing your CPAP mask parts (headgear, cushion, clips and frame) as soon as they begin to start showing some wear and tear. As this ultimately will affect the comfort of your mask.
Weight change can also impact the fit of your mask and mean you could need to replace your mask/mask parts.
You or your partner might hear a hissing or burping noise from the air leak; you also may have very dry eyes in the morning. While you can tighten the mask straps to try to compensate somewhat, when the mask seal gets degraded sufficiently, you will need to replace your CPAP Mask.
If you have had your mask for a while, you can read your data card in your machine or look at CPAP app readings. In doing this, you can find out if you are experiencing many leaks; an older worn mask that needs replacing will cause a higher leak rate.
Cleaning your equipment regularly is essential to get the most out of your CPAP therapy. It will prevent more frequent mask replacements and benefit your comfort.
Read more on how to clean your CPAP equipment here.
How do I get rid of nasal congestion from CPAP?
Around a third of patients will experience nasal congestion when using a CPAP mask. The increased airflow through the nasal passages can dry them out.
The use of a CPAP humidifier is often the solution to the problem, as this adds water to the air and provides moisture to the nasal passages. A humidifier also helps those who wake with a dry mouth.
Another option for those with chronic sinus and nasal issues would be a nasal irrigator, such as the SinuPulse Elite. The SinuPulse Elite flushes out the sinuses with a salt solution, helping to reduce inflammation, moisturise the passages and clear blockages and congestion. Regular nasal irrigation can have significant health benefits.
How often should I clean my CPAP mask?
In order to remain comfortable, your CPAP mask should be cleaned daily.
Clean your mask in the morning after each night’s use with some CPAP mask wipes or warm soapy water. Please be aware that non-CPAP mask wipes may contain alcohol which can damage your mask.
In addition, regular washing of your mask and headgear is recommended on a bi-weekly basis. Your CPAP mask should be disassembled into its various components and, along with the headgear, placed into a bowl filled with a solution of a mild soap detergent or unscented washing-up liquid and warm water.
For more helpful tips, read our CPAP cleaning guide.
Utilise the CPAP ramp setting
Many CPAP users begin therapy and find the pressurised air reaching their CPAP mask uncomfortable.
To solve this – most CPAP machines have a ‘ramp’ setting; this works by gradually increasing the pressure as you begin your therapy. Making it easier to fall asleep and become comfortable with your CPAP pressure.
Add a CPAP humidifier
It is common for CPAP users to find the pressurised air too cold. This can lead to a dry mouth or nose.
CPAP humidifiers warm and add moisture to the air you breathe through your CPAP mask, giving you extra comfort.
Heated tubing can also be added in conjunction with a humidifier, the tubing keeps the air at a consistent temperature so it does not cool down. This prevents condensation (rainout).
CPAP accessories that work for you
Wearing a CPAP mask can restrict your freedom of movement and comfort.
Adding accessories to enhance your therapy can eliminate claustrophobia and discomfort.
Some examples include:
- A CPAP Pillow features cut-outs that your mask falls into when you sleep on your side. This is an excellent solution for those who like to side-sleep and have been unable to do so.
- A Hose Lift is another helpful tool which elevates the hose above the bed. This allows you to change position without fear of the hose pulling on the mask.
- A Hose Fleece insulates your CPAP tube to keep your therapy at a consistent temperature.
- The SoClean 2 CPAP Sanitiser removes 99% of germs and bacteria automatically.
The benefits of CPAP outweigh the negatives, keep this in mind if you struggle with mask claustrophobia. Relaxation exercises may also help with anxiety and discomfort.
Thousands of people use CPAP in the UK alone; Sleep Apnoea is a common Sleep disorder affecting men and women of all ages.
If you want to know more about solving red marks from your CPAP supplies – Solving red marks and skin damage from your CPAP mask
A comprehensive guide to understanding what your pressure settings should be – What should my CPAP pressure settings be?
Helpful advice on eliminating CPAP mask leaks – CPAP Mask Leaks: Simple Solutions