When it comes to clothes, we all have a certain fit we like. When it doesn’t fit as well, it could also lower our self-confidence. In the same light, CPAP face masks need to fit us well for the therapy to be deemed effective.
Leaks from either side could spell ineffectual treatment for the CPAP user. There could be a dozen reasons why mask leaks are happening. Here are some ways to troubleshoot mask leaks and to decide whether it can be fixed by adjusting the current CPAP face mask or if it’s time to replace or change it:
- When it can be fixed by adjustments: Again, the fit is everything for effective treatment. When there are leaks, it may just mean the poor fit of the mask. An effective method in finding the right fit and tightness for the mask is to put it on even before attaching the hose or turning the CPAP machine on. Try to lie in bed, too, and see how it fits to imitate what it would feel like while lying down. Experiment with it and try to make adjustments as you figure out new things. It will be worth it in the end.
- The mask isn’t being tightened right: overtightening or under-tightening masks could be the reason for the leaks. The mask’s fit should not be hurting the face nor should it feel like it’s constantly shifting while asleep. A good way to get a good tight snug of the mask is by lying down and then tightening the mask for a more realistic fit while sleeping.
- Facial hair: If your facial hair is slowly growing, this could also be the cause of leaks as it comes in contact with the mask. If you’re determined to use full-face masks, this may mean having to shave every so often to prevent the facial hair from causing trouble with your CPAP therapy. If you plan to keep the facial hair, it might be time to check out a bigger full-face mask or utilizing other kinds of masks that won’t coincide with your beard and/or mustache. You can look at different types of masks here.
- Mask is haphazardly positioned already upon waking up: This could either be the fit as mentioned above or skin concerns like sweating or oiliness in the face while sleeping. Some skin care products may be causing the mask to slip or the natural oils from the face can also be at play. If this happens, consult your doctor in ways to help keep your oils at bay or to recommend a new skincare routine that won’t lead to your mask slipping and sliding.
- Mouth breathing: if you breathe through your mouth, using a full-face mask will be the most useful. if you still feel this is causing air leaks, adding a chin strap to your tools can help make sure your breathing comes only from your nose.
- When it’s time to replace or change your mask: simply put, if you see damage on your CPAP face mask, it might be time to replace it with a new one. Some things to look out for are:
- Cracks or holes are seen: if you notice some cracks or holes, the mask might need replacing already. This can result in CPAP therapy that’s less effective or not effective at all. Time to toss that mask and get a new one.
- If the mask doesn’t fit: If you’ve tried all the tips above and it still causes air leaks, it might just mean the mask isn’t the right size for you. Ask the help of a doctor or a friend who has been going through CPAP therapy for a while for some advice on how to find masks that fit your face well with no gaps or cracks.
Whatever the issue is, the most important thing is the comfortability and the effectiveness of your CPAP Therapy. Here’s hoping these tips help you on your journey towards addressing sleep apnea through using a good CPAP face mask.