Sleep apnea is a pause in breathing that takes place when you are asleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is the obstructive sleep apnea that occurs due to a blockage in your airway. The blockage happens when the soft tissue at the back of the throat relax when you are asleep. The tissue therefore prevents you from breathing and you therefore have to wake up in order to breathe in.
CPAP therapy is the best known treatment for treating sleep apnea. During therapy, a CPAP machine is used to blow pressurized air down your throat when you are asleep. The pressure from the air is enough to keep the tissues at the back of the throat in place so that you do not experience any obstruction to your breathing. You breathe in the pressurized air through a CPAP masks that is connected to the machine by a tube.
Full Face Masks
A full face mask covers a large portion of the face – from the bridge of the nose to underneath the lower lip. This mask is suitable if you have a congested nose and tend to breathe through your mouth when you are asleep. The mask is also suitable if your doctor has recommended that you use a high amount of air pressure since you will be able to breathe through your nose and mouth.
You can also go for the full face CPAP mask if you normally suffer from a dry mouth. You can use a CPAP machine that has a humidifier so that you can breathe in moist air through your nose and mouth. This will keep you from experiencing a dry throat and mouth after the therapy.
A nasal mask is normally triangular in shape and is fitted over the nose. You are therefore required to breathe only through your nose in order for your therapy to be effective. The nasal mask can be quite comfortable if you normally breathe in through your nose. The pressurized air is not transmitted as directly as the other mask types and you therefore feel like you are breathing normally. You can opt for this mask if you toss a lot during sleep and if you prefer to sleep on your side. You can use a strap under your chin to keep your mouth shut during the therapy to ensure that your treatment works effectively.
The nasal pillow is the smallest CPAP mask available and lies above the upper lip. It consists of two pillows that are inserted in the nostrils on the outer edges. The cushions create a seal which enables the pressurized air to be delivered more directly than the other masks. The nasal pillow has a good seal since a poor seal is the reason why a CPAP mask leaks.
The nasal pillows are also referred to as nasal cushions and you are required to only breathe through your nose so as not to interfere with therapy. As with the nasal mask, you can opt to use a strap to support your chin so that you do not open your mouth when sleeping. The nasal pillow does not obstruct your vision in any way and you can therefore watch television or read a book while the machine is on.