Getting used to CPAP therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be challenging, especially in the beginning. When ordering new equipment, choosing the best fitting CPAP mask is often the most difficult thing to do. What size do I need? What if I don’t like the mask? Which CPAP mask style works best? Where can I find a CPAP fitting guide? How do I get the best CPAP mask fit? One should not assume that going to your doctor and insurance for your equipment will give you the opportunity to try out different masks. To get a new one through insurance, you’ll need to schedule a follow up with the doctor and then another follow up with your DME.
If you purchase Return Insurance from CPAP.com, you could try many masks at once, and choose the best fitting CPAP mask for you. You’d then return the masks you didn’t want to keep for a full refund. The best part about Return Insurance? Many masks have free Return Insurance! To see a list: Masks with Free Return Insurance.
So how do you find a best-fitting CPAP Mask? Here are five easy steps to get the best fitting CPAP mask:
1. Know How You Sleep
This step is really important if you’re looking for the best fitting CPAP mask for the first time. Some individuals sleep mouth open and don’t breathe through the nose. Others breathe through the nose only and don’t breathe through the mouth at all. Some people fall asleep breathing through the nose, but then switch to the mouth. How do you find out how you sleep? If you don’t know, ask someone! Your sleeping companion would know. Should you sleep alone, ask a friend or a relative who has been around you when you sleep. Once you know how you sleep, you can then start to look at different types of CPAP masks.
Do you Shift Position During Sleep?
Shifting position frequently while sleeping can cause the seal between the mask and the face to break, causing discomfort to the user as air begins shooting out the side, and it may mean you need a different mask. Knowing how you sleep is going to always be the starting point when it comes to choosing from the best CPAP masks.
Breathe Through the Nose or Mouth?
If you breathe through your nose only, you might find the best fitting CPAP mask is a nasal CPAP mask or a nasal pillow CPAP mask. Should you breathe through the nose and mouth, start looking at full face CPAP mask options or a Hybrid CPAP mask. A Hybrid CPAP mask has a nasal pillow attachment as well as an attachment for the mouth. If you breathe through the mouth, you could still use a nasal mask or a nasal pillow if you had a chinstrap to keep your mouth closed.
2. Figure Out What Size CPAP Mask You Need
This step can be the most confusing for CPAP newbies. When it comes to sizing, it can get tricky.
One thing to keep in mind: mask sizes are not standardized! Mask sizes come in various sizes such as petite, extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large.
Here are examples of CPAP masks for small faces. What’s a large for one brand may be an extra-large in another. Or, you could need CPAP masks for wide faces, depending on the brand. Many of our mask pages have a PDF fitting guide that you can print out and use to figure out which size you need before you buy.
Here’s an example of a mask-specific CPAP mask fitting guide. Most nasal and full-face masks have a CPAP mask fitting guide, and CPAP.com includes a link to the fitting guide. Keep in mind that mask fitting guides are mask-specific, so you shouldn’t use one mask-specific CPAP mask fitting guide when trying to determine mask size for another mask.
3. Ordering a New CPAP Mask
Once you’ve measured your face and used a CPAP mask fitting guide, you’re now ready to order a mask. If possible, order a few different masks (and purchase Return Insurance so you can return used masks for a full refund). Or follow this pro tip and only shop
masks with free Return Insurance. Remember, if you do not have Return Insurance from CPAP.com, you will not be eligible to return a used CPAP mask. When your new CPAP masks come, try each one on and adjust the tightness so that it’s comfortable.
Do you Have Facial Hair?
To get the best CPAP fit, you’ll also need to assess whether or not you have facial hair or other barriers that could impact the way the mask seals. Having a beard or other facial hair can make it difficult to create a proper seal. Customers that have beards generally find a full face mask or a nasal pillow mask as the best fitting CPAP mask and use a gel cushion as it can create a better seal to the contours of the face. It’s also good to know if you roll over, sleep on your stomach, or lay on your back during sleep.
Related Reading: Best CPAP Masks For Beards
Keep an Open Mind
It will be helpful to have an open mind as you try different CPAP masks. Here are examples of CPAP masks with multiple sizes included. Keep in mind that if air escapes from the CPAP mask near where it’s supposed to seal, you may need to tighten the mask for a better seal. Air escaping is not a sign that the mask is defective. Some tightening will be required, but try to avoid tightening too much.
If you have to tighten the mask too tight to get a great seal, you may need to select a different mask or a different cushion.
Return Insurance from CPAP.com gives you 30 days from the date of purchase to return the item to CPAP.com, so take your time and make sure the mask is going to work well for you.
4. Find a Proper Fit. How Tight Should a CPAP Mask Be? How to Fit a CPAP Mask?
When a CPAP mask fits correctly, it should create a seal that air does not escape from, but at the same time feel comfortable to the user.
If a user has to tighten a mask to the point that red marks form on the face, or to the point that a person feels claustrophobic, then the mask is too tight.
The mask should feel comfortable to the user without putting too much pressure on the face. How tight a CPAP mask should be is going to depend a lot on your level of comfort and sleeping style. Not every CPAP mask is going to fit perfectly, which is why it would be helpful to try a few different masks before deciding on any one particular brand.
5. Evaluate CPAP Mask Performance
Mask fits are the most personal part of CPAP therapy, as it’s the point at which the therapy is delivered to the airway. Keep in mind that there may be noise from the machine, and there may be noise from the mask as well. Some masks are designed to minimize noise and irritation, but it would be impossible to eliminate all noises from the therapy. Also, keep in mind that if you remove the mask from your face during the night (a common problem), it’s not a sign that the mask doesn’t work.
It will take a few days to get used to the CPAP mask. Don’t expect to be a pro overnight. In many cases, it will take several attempts before you sleep the full night with the mask. As soon as your order arrives, don’t delay in testing out your new masks!
Return Insurance: Remember to Return Within 30 Days!
You only have 30 days from the date of purchase to return the mask to CPAP.com- if you purchased Return Insurance! You can expect some difficulty in getting used to each mask, and you’d want to take some time to make sure it’s going to work. Any delay in testing a mask would cut into your critical evaluation period. You’ll find that if you invest the time in finding the right mask for you, you’ll get more out of your therapy and perhaps have a better sleep. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Picking out a new CPAP mask can be difficult, and you’ll find that it can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive guide to CPAP masks that you can use to help plan your treatment and find answers to common problems.
David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.