5 Signs It's Time to Upgrade Your Sleep Apnea Mask and Machine

  • portrait of smiling man sitting on bed
    CPAP: Find the Right Fit
    Sleep apnea is a common medical problem in which the airways become blocked during sleep, causing you to stop and start breathing frequently throughout the night. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available that can help patients live healthy, normal lives. The most commonly used treatment for sleep apnea is called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, which connects to a hose and mask you wear at night. CPAPs send air directly into your airways through the mask, keeping airways open so you breathe consistently as you sleep. There are many different varieties of CPAP machines and masks out there, and it’s crucial to find the right match for you. So ask yourself if it’s time to upgrade your CPAP and consider the following concerns.

  • man lying in bed with sleep apnea cpap mask
    1. You’ve been using the same CPAP model for many years.
    I have some patients who have been treating their sleep apnea for 15 years and still use the same CPAP machine and mask because it’s what they’re familiar with. However, we’ve seen meaningful improvements in how CPAP machines work and how the masks fit, so it’s worthwhile to check out the new options every few years. New CPAPs can track your sleep patterns and tailor the air flow to individual needs, which makes them a lot more comfortable and effective for patients to use.

  • man in bed reaching for alarm clock
    2. You wake up every morning with a dry mouth or sore throat.
    It’s common for patients with sleep apnea to wake up with these symptoms because of the way the CPAP pushes air to their airways. However, newer CPAPs often have built-in heaters and humidifiers, which add moisture to the air and can help patients avoid a dry mouth or sore throat. Today’s CPAPs can also use sensors to detect your breathing patterns, adjusting airflow pressure as needed throughout the night so the air you breathe is softer and the experience is more natural.

  • woman sleeping in bed with cpap mask
    3. Your CPAP mask is uncomfortable.
    Picking the right CPAP mask is sort of like picking out a pair of shoes; you need to try a few on until you find what’s comfortable for you. If your mask isn’t comfortable, you’re less likely to wear it, and your sleep apnea will remain uncontrolled. If your mask isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to see what else is out there. Many durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers allow customers to try their new CPAP masks for a full month before committing to it. Take the time to find the mask that’s right for you, because wearing a mask that fits is a very different experience than wearing one that doesn’t.

  • portrait of smiling bearded man
    4. Your facial hair doesn’t work with your mask.
    For people with facial hair, and particularly for men with thicker beards, it can be quite challenging to find the right CPAP mask. Facial hair can sometimes block the mask from sealing fully, which prevents it from working properly. Sometimes, a patient might need to trim his facial hair a little more closely to fit into a mask properly. But there are CPAP masks that work better for facial hair; nasal pillow masks don’t cover the mouth, enabling wearers to grow beards and wear their masks comfortably. Full-face masks can also be a good option, since they encompass the facial hair and seal under the chin.

  • man asleep in bed with mouth open
    5. You breathe through your mouth at night.
    About 20% of the population are mouth-breathers, and they tend to find it more comfortable to wear full-face CPAP masks that cover the nose and mouth, so the air blows into both. That way, they don’t need to be conscious of keeping their mouths closed at night and can breathe whichever way comes naturally. Although these masks can seem cumbersome at first, many of my patients end up liking them because there’s less risk of the mask slipping or the seal getting blocked.

5 Signs It's Time to Upgrade Your Sleep Apnea Mask and Machine
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.
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