CPAP Mask Styles

Cpap Mask Styles - Pros & Cons

1. Nasal Pillow – My favourite mask! Seals at the nostrils with little pillows that push up gently into the base of the nostrils Pros– Small, lightweight, minimalistic. Easy to put on and take off. Seals well at lower / mid pressures, less red pressure marks on the face, great for beards and facial hair. Cons – Can hurt the nostrils in the beginning. Not great at high pressures and can be hard to exhale. Can’t breathe through your mouth.  

2. Nasal Cradle – Very similar to the Pillow mask but doesn’t have the pillows that push up into the nostril. Pros– All the same as the Pillow mask and no nasal irritation Cons – Might not get the same great seal as the pillow. Can be a bit hit and miss at times. Can’t breathe through your mouth  

3. Nasal Mask – The great all rounder. Covers the nose and has secure headgear. Pros– Very secure with the straps, better seal at higher pressures, still small and minimal. Cons – More red marks, more components, more adjustments ( clips and straps etc ). Bridge of the nose issues, can’t breathe through mouth. 

4. Full Face Mask – Covers the nose and mouth. Pros – Can breathe through nose or mouth Cons – Big and bulky, more prone to mask leaks, more red marks on face. 

5. Hybrid Full Face. Pro – Can breathe through nose and mouth, smaller than standard full face, no bridge of the nose issues. Less red marks Cons – Can be hard to find the right fit, prone to mask leaks.



Nick: When it comes to CPAP masks, there’s a lot of different styles but what are the pros and cons of each style and which mask is most suitable for you? Stick around and I’ll walk you through it.

Nick: G’day guys, Nick here from CPAP Reviews, great to be with you as always, thanks for tuning in wherever you are in the world. Now, when you first get diagnosed with sleep apnea and you’re told you need a CPAP mask, it can be very, very confusing. There’s just so much variety with the styles and all the manufacturers that it can be a little bit overwhelming, which is why I thought I’d do a little video just explaining the different styles and what are the pros and cons of each of those styles. Now, a few years back, I did another video where I talked about the three main styles, the pillows, the nasal, and the full face mask. And that video is very amateurish, but I still love it and many people still watch it, but I thought it’s time to do an updated video because there is new technology.

Nick: There are new varieties of CPAP masks available, so I thought I’d talk you through them. So, just in front of me here, I have the different varieties. So, just starting here on my left, I have the hybrid full face mask, the standard nasal mask, the standard full mask, the nasal pillow or pillow mask, and then we have these new masks that I refer to them as cradle masks or nasal cradle masks. Now, just for simplicity, I’ve removed the headgear from some of the masks, just because it’s a bit messy and it’s a lot easier to see the actual interface, the part that actually connects with the face because that’s where most of the change is in the variety of the masks.

Nick: All righty. So, the first mask style we’re going to talk about today is the nasal pillow mask or pillow mask. Now, a pillow mask is one that seals at the nostrils. So, it has these two little prongs or pillows that gently push up and seal at the nostrils. Now, the reason I love the nasal pillow masks so much is that they’re so small, lightweight and minimalistic. So, when you’re moving around at nighttime in bed, you don’t feel like you have this big cumbersome mask on. It’s very light and it’s very easy to maneuver with over nighttime. There’s also less components, so you’re not having to fiddle around with clips and tightening different parts of the strap. It’s very easy to put on and take off. It’s simply just pull up over the head, pull down over their head and away you go.

Nick: Another reason I love the nasal pillow mask so much is that you don’t have a lot of red marks on your face in the morning. I know it’s a little bit embarrassing for some of you that have full face masks or nasal masks, after eight hours, you tend to get these red marks over the bridge of your nose and down the side of your cheeks here. With the nasal pillow mask, because it’s so minimalistic and because it seals at the nostrils, you don’t get so many of those red marks. You might get a few little ones from the straps, but that’s it. I love the fact that these masks come with all the different size cushions so that you can find one that suits your nostrils. And because it’s only sealing at the nostrils, they generally seal really well. You don’t get a whole lot of mask leaks with the nasal pillow masks, I find.

Nick: With some of those other masks, you’re having to seal this whole area around your face and when you’re moving around and pushing your head against the pillow, it can push the cushion a bit and then you can get a whole lot of different mask leaks going on, which can be very, very frustrating, as many of you would already know. Now, these masks are great for people that have beards or facial hair, moes, if you’ve got a great mustache that you’re loving and you’re tweaking it around, then this mask is great because it’s very hard to get a good seal with facial hair. Now, when it comes to the cons, so if you’re at the higher end of the pressure, these might be a bit difficult for you because the pressure itself is very direct because they’re sealing at the nostrils it’s just shooting up into nasal cavity, so it can feel quite intense if you’re on higher pressures compared to the lower ones.

Nick: So, once you get up above 15, 16, you can use them, might also feel a little bit more challenging when you’re exhaling, when you’re breathing out, because there’s not a lot of a big cavity there to breathe out into, at times people complain of sore nostrils. Now, if you are getting sore nostrils, the best thing to do is take it off, let your nostrils heal a bit and then put it back on. So, maybe you have a couple of days break. You don’t want to be continuously rubbing. It’s like a blister on your foot, you’ve got to give it a bit of a break. These little parts around your nose will firm up, they will get used to it, take it off, give your nose a break and then go back. You’ll find that over a little period of time, you won’t get that irritation and soreness.

Nick: But that’s the nasal pillow masks, I highly recommend to most of my patients to start with a pillow mask or something minimalistic like that. Even if you’re told that you’re a mouth breather, or even if you put it on in the beginning and you’re like, “I can’t breathe out. This is too difficult for me.” What I recommend you do is start at a low pressure, like I tell all my patients. Start with a nasal pillow mask and just practice for a couple of weeks. Just keep putting it on, breathing with it, breathing with it, breathing with it. And then, if after a couple of weeks to a month even, you’re not used to it, then you move on to a different style mask, like a full face mask or so forth, but try and always start with these nasal pillows, because if you can get used to it in the beginning, in the long run, it’s going to make using CPAP therapy a whole lot more enjoyable for you.

Nick: All right, let’s move on, shall we? Let’s go to these nasal cradle masks. So, these are a new one. These nasal cradle masks have, instead of having the pillows that go up into the nose, it’s more of a little cradle. Now, the cradle it’s … So, they’re a similar design to the nasal pillow, but they don’t have those bits that stick up into the nose. Your nose sits in a little cradle section. Now, so they have all the similar benefits of a nasal pillow mask that I talked about. The minimalism, that they’re light, easy move around with not a whole lot of straps and clips and everything like that, but they don’t get that intense up into the nose feeling that you can get from the nasal pillows. Your nose just sits gently in the cushion. Now, this has got a bit of a pro and con effect.

Nick: The pro is you don’t get that annoyance of having the pillows up in the nostril there and that direct pressure, but the downside is you might not get the same great seal that you get with the pillows, so they can be a little bit hit and miss because you’re not sealing at that nostril there and your nose is sitting in the cushion. Sometimes they can be a bit hit and miss with the seal and once again, when that pressure gets high, it’s a lot harder to get that seal. So, a little point there, try and keep your pressure as low as possible. I talk about this in a lot of my videos, learn how to adjust the therapy levels of your own machines. Learn how to use your data to show you where your pressure levels need to be.

Nick: I do a lot of tutorials on this stuff, but that way you can get your machine to work at the lowest pressure possible to give you the best results and it’s going to make wearing your mask and getting a good seal a whole lot easier for you. Moving on, now we’re going to talk about just a nasal, a standard nasal mask. Very basic. It literally just covers your nose like so, okay and then you have your straps there. The positive of a nasal mask is that they work well at higher pressure levels compared to the pillow masks. So, if you still want a smaller mask, but you’re on a higher pressure, this is a great one for you. They’re quite secure because they do have quite a … I’ll show you one of the harness or the head straps.

Nick: So, they’ve got a bit of head strap to them, so they secure here and here, so that when you’re moving around over nighttime and moving around in your bed, the mask is very secure. You are going to get a great seal on the mask. The downside to the nasal mask is, you have to deal with the bridge of the nose issues. Many of you get a sore bridge of the nose, especially if you’ve got a bit of a raised bridge of the nose. You’re probably going to get a lot of irritation in this spot here, they do have a lot of straps, so there is a bit more going on and it’s a bit more clips and a bit more adjusting going on, a few more components. But if you’ve tried a nasal pillow or a nasal cradle and the pressure is getting a bit too much for you and you’re struggling, then you’d probably go to trying just a standard nasal, this one here’s an Eson2.

Nick: And a lot of them now come in what they call a fit pack, which comes with this part here, which is the cushion, a medium, small, large, maybe a wide cushion as well. So, you can buy them and then pick the right one for you. Now we’ll go to a full face mask. So, a full face mask by definition seals around your nose and your mouth. Okay. So, you can see here, if I put it on the face there, you can see that it’s actually covering the nose and the mouth. Now, the benefit of the full face mask is that because it’s covering your nose … I really forgot, I should have talked about this before. One of the downsides of these nasal varieties or any nasal variety is you can’t breathe through your mouth. It’s obviously a big downside, so you have to be just breathing through your nose, all right, I forgot that before.

Nick: So, with the full face mask, because we’re now sealing around your nose and your mouth, it gives you the option of breathing through your nose, through your mouth, any way you like, you can breathe. Okay. Some of you are what we refer to as mouth breathers. I don’t like that term because I think it’s a bit of a made up term, but if you’re someone who struggles to breathe through your nose, maybe you got some bad hay fever or you’re just always getting clogged up. You might have nasal polyps, a deviated septum when someone knocked you at primary school or something like that, then you might be going to a full face mask because you can put this full face mask on and you can breathe through your nose or your mouth.

Nick: Okay. The downside of the full face mask is that they’re a bit big, a bit cumbersome, quite claustrophobic. You’ve got to seal right around here, so when you’re lying down over nighttime and your face squishes on the pillow, you’re going to get a few more leaks most likely and also, you’re going to get more red marks. Yeah. They’re just a bit more big and bulky. But for some of you, this is the only choice you’re going to have is a full face mask or a full face mask hybrid because you might just not be able to get used to one of these nasal ones where you have to breathe just through your nose. Moving on. This is the new one. These are what we call full face hybrid masks, so these are new type, they’re a cross between a full face mask and a nasal cradle.

Nick: So, basically instead of coming up … I’ll show you it here, so you can see with the standard full face mask how it comes up over the bridge of the nose here, with these cradles, you can see here, it doesn’t come up over the bridge of the nose. All right. It has this cradle section in it, still covers the mouth, but it has a little cradle where your nose sits. So, see that like that, not coming up over here. All right. Now, the beauty of that is that it’s still a full face mask, still gives you that option to breathe through your mouth or your nose, whichever way you like, but you don’t have such a big full face mask. It’s not so claustrophobic. You don’t have all this stuff in front of your eyes, so you can put your glasses on and read a book if you want to do that before bed.

Nick: Some of you like to watch a bit of TV when you’re nodding off, this gives you that clear line of sight. It’s a bit smaller, a bit lighter, a bit easier to maneuver, and you’re not going to have to deal with also the bridge of the nose issue, which many of you have to deal with where you get that sore bridge of the nose. So, this is definitely worth having a look at, if you do need a full face mask. There’s a few varieties and I’ll put some links of some different masks you can look at in the description of the video. Downsides to these hybrids is that this part here where the cradle section is, similar to the nasal cradle, is that it can be a little bit hit and miss for people trying to size it up right and trying to get a really good seal at that section.

Nick: And unfortunately, because it’s aiming up, if you can’t get a good seal the air shoots up in it, you can get puffy eyes and a whole lot of things like that. So, certainly I think if you are going to go for a full face mask these days, I would be recommending that you start trying to go for a hybrid to begin with, and then if you can’t get a good seal with a hybrid, then you’d go to a standard cushion. You’re probably going to have more success getting a really good seal, but that’s where we’re at now. So, there’s a bit of variety there for you to have a look at. Like most things in CPAP, I highly recommend that you just try them out for yourself, persist in the beginning and see where you go.

Nick: But when you go and get fitted in the hospital or in a clinic, they only have a limited amount of time to see you and the majority of the time as well, they’re not going to run through all the different mask styles because it takes too long. And they’re probably not going to show you or fit all the mask styles on you either. So, they’ll probably show you a pillow and a full face mask or a nasal. So, just be aware that there are more masks out there. You need to do your research yourself, but check out all the little videos that I do on all the different masks. If you see something that you really like, maybe you like that because it has the connection at the top and you sleep on your stomach or something like that, then obviously you can choose something that’s going to suit the way that you sleep.

Nick: But anyway, that’s it for today. Thanks for watching the video, really appreciate it. I’d love the thumbs up, if you’ve found it somewhat beneficial or useful to you. And also, if you hit the subscribe button and click that little bell as well, you’ll get notifications whenever I put up new stuff and I put it up pretty regularly. So, whenever the new stuff comes out, I’ll put it up, give you my honest opinion and talk you through it all. Take care and sleep well, all the best.

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