Will a Nasal or Nasal Pillow Mask Work Better?

When diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), many people can become overwhelmed at the number of choices they need to narrow down to effectively begin continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment.  One of the most important pieces of equipment you will need to choose is what type of CPAP mask would work best for you.  Your CPAP mask is the channel through which your pressurized therapy air is delivered into your airway, preventing apneas from occurring and keeping you breathing smoothly during the night.  There are many types of CPAP masks, but this post will focus on the nasal and nasal pillow masks.

Nasal Mask

Both the nasal and nasal pillow CPAP masks deliver your therapy air through the nose exclusively.  These masks are ideal for people who breathe through their nose a majority of the time while sleeping.  However, even if you breathe through your mouth for a small portion of the time, these masks can be used in conjunction with a chin strap, an elastic strap that attaches to your mask and fits under your jaw to help keep your mouth closed.  Chin straps can be an important feature of these nasal oriented masks in order to ensure that your therapy is effective; if your mouth is open, the pressurized air can’t work to keep your airway open!

Nasal Pillow Mask
Nasal Pillow Mask

The differences between these masks are noticeable in their design.  Nasal masks are similar in design to a full face mask but smaller, with a triangle shape that covers the entire nose.  This can have a bulkier feel that some people find uncomfortable, however, it also provides a very stable seal that works well for people who move around a lot while sleeping.  Nasal pillow masks consist of a sleeker design, with two nasal pillows that insert into the nostril opening.  This is a more minimal design that only covers the bottom of the nose and the space between your nose and mouth.  The less intrusive design is ideal for those who stay relatively still while sleeping, as the smaller design can be more easily dislodged from tossing and turning.  Overall, this really comes down to personal comfort preference.  Both masks are completely functional at delivering your CPAP therapy, so whatever you find more comfortable should work perfectly!

Final Thoughts

Of course, the above outline is not a complete guide to the nasal masks, but hopefully you now have a better idea of if it will work for you. Of course, it is best to speak with your doctor to determine what is best for your individual needs.


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