Sleep Apnea and CPAP Masks: What You Need to Know

Sometimes when we are diagnosed with a medical condition for the first time, we find ourselves in an alien world, filled with terminologies we know nothing about. What is the doctor trying to say when he or she confirms that you have sleep apnea and would now have to wear the corresponding mask.

What is sleep apnea? And why are they asking you to wear masks? Several questions like these crowd your mind and you want satisfying answers right now.  CPAP Masks

What is sleep apnea?

It is one of the worst types of sleep disorders characterized by recurrent pauses in breathing, each lasting for 10 seconds or more and recurring 5 to 30 times in an hour, depending on the severity of the condition. It happens when the upper airway narrows and when snoring is left untreated.

Sleep apnea masks: what are they and what do they do?

Sleep apnea and CPAP masks would always be mentioned together, since CPAP or Continued Positive Air Pressure therapy is identified as one of the most effective means to treat this disease. The therapy involves pumping in pre-set pressurized air into the lungs to keep it open during sleep. It aims to keep the airway from collapsing and blocking normal flow of air during breathing while you sleep.

CPAP masks, also known as the sleep apnea masks are an important and integral part of the equipment which has the following components: the device, the mask and hoses. While the device generates the pressurized air, it is carried to the lungs via the the mask worn over the nose, mouth or both. The air is carried to the mask with the help of the hoses.

Sleep apnea and CPAP masks: basics

The CPAP masks are usually triangular in shape and made from soft and pliable silicone material. The sleeping and breathing habits of the user play a critical role in the selection of the CPAP mask. There are several types of CPAP masks available in the market. Here is a brief overview of some of the common types of CPAP masks:

1. CPAP Gel Mask: The CPAP gel mask offers the best and most comfortable fit and is also a suitable alternative for people allergic to silicone plastic, material used for all other types of CPAP masks.

The CPAP gel mask is made from gelatin combined with some soft plastic. This material can be pre-heated to create a unique and individualized mask that fits the facial and nasal contours perfectly. Some gel masks are also available where no pre-heating is needed.

2. Full face mask: The full face mask covers the whole face. It begins at the bridge of the nose up to the lower lip covering the chin. The mask has additional straps at the forehead and mouth for secure fitting.

3. Nasal masks: As the name suggests, the nasal mask covers only the nose, and is the most common type of CPAP mask used in CPAP therapy. It is worn with straps going round the head, to keep the mask in position securely.

 

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