Continuous positive airway pressure is one of the most effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, and therefore one of the most common. You wear a mask, such as the ResMed Mirage Quattro, over your face similar to the masks used to administer gas when you go to the dentist. It is hooked up to a machine that draws air from your bedroom and pressurizes it. The pressurized air blowing continuously helps to hold back the loose tissues that block your windpipe and cause breathing stoppages while you sleep.
While you need a doctor’s prescription to obtain CPAP equipment, the type you buy is up to you. Here are some good things to know before buying any type of sleep apnea equipment.
1. The Sleep Apnea Test That Will Change Your Life
Before you can purchase a CPAP machine, you need to have obstructive sleep apnea positively diagnosed. There are other sleep conditions that may cause similar symptoms, and CPAP won’t be effective on them.
There are two types of sleep apnea tests available. A monitored sleep study requires you to spend the night in a clinic under the supervision of a trained technician who collects the results of the study. This type of test is considered very accurate but is inconvenient because of the expense and the need to spend the night away from home.
Home sleep tests have changed the lives of many people since they first came into use. This is a test that you can administer yourself, from the comfort of your own home, making it much more convenient. It is also less expensive because it is simpler and doesn’t require any monitoring. The results aren’t always as accurate, and doing a home sleep test doesn’t preclude the possibility that you’ll eventually have to do a monitored sleep study to confirm the results. Generally speaking, however, home sleep studies are effective at diagnosing sleep apnea.
2. Knowing What Kind of CPAP Mask I Need
There are three basic types of CPAP masks:
- Full-face masks that cover both your nose and mouth
- Nasal masks, such as the AirFit N30i, that cover only your nose
- Nasal pillow masks that seal around your nostrils without covering either your nose or mouth
The type of mask you need depends on many different factors. For example, if you are claustrophobic, you probably need a smaller mask that covers less of your face, such as a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask. A smaller mask is also better if you sleep on your stomach or your side, but if you sleep on your back, a full-face mask may be better for you because it creates a better seal. Your doctor can recommend a mask for you based on your condition and preferences, but you may have to try several before you find the right one.
3. The Mask Is Sold Separately
Don’t expect your new CPAP machine to come with its own mask. This is something that you have to buy separately. There is actually a good reason for this as it can often be harder to find the best CPAP mask than the right machine. Nevertheless, once you have your prescription, each can be purchased from online retailers.
These are three things to know before you buy a CPAP mask. CPAP masks can also help with seasonal allergies.