There are numerous different methods used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Perhaps the most common, and most effective method used is the CPAP machine. The acronym, CPAP, stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure; it is a machine used during sleep to prevent the occurrence of obstructive apneas. The user of the machine wears a mask during sleep, and the CPAP pushes a continuous stream of air down the throat. The amount of air being forced down the airway is enough to keep the airway open and free from obstruction, but no so much that the user of the machine is disturbed by the pressure. The user of the machine is able to inhale a larger amount of oxygen without any added effort.
Incorporating a CPAP machine into the sleeping routine can drastically change the AHI of the person suffering from the disorder. While the machine is extremely beneficial, the benefits do come with a few issues. The mask that the CPAP user wears during sleep is the most important piece of CPAP therapy. The major concern that users and manufacturers of CPAP masks are faced with is the fit of the mask. It is imperative to find a mask that fits snugly, and comfortably, around the face to prevent any leakage of air. For this reason, nasal pillow masks are popular among people suffering from apnea. They are comfortable, light weight, compatible with most pillow sizes, and they generally prevent air leakage from common leakage spots like the bridge of the nose.
The most important factor to consider when choosing the right CPAP mask for your machine is personal comfort. Since you will be relying on the mask to protect your body while you are unconscious, it is very important that you find a mask that is comfortable and unobtrusive. There are nasal masks made to fit every size of nostril, and some masks even have different sized nasal pillows for either nostril to accommodate less symmetrical users. Masks are made to accommodate people who have nasal passage issues that cover the full face; these are also used by people who simply prefer to breathe out of their mouths. CPAP mask users can also choose where the tubing on the mask that connects the mask to the machine will be located. For people who sleep on their sides, it would be most beneficial to get a mask with tubing attached to the side.
The most important part of choosing a CPAP mask: comfort. The user must be comfortable while under the care of the machine, or the equipment can not fully perform its duties.