If the CPAP mask leaks; then CPAP therapy will fail.
The dreaded mask leak. It’s a killer. If it leaks it’ll blow into your eyes or simply not work. Then it’s a useless piece of plastic on your face stopping you from sleeping instead of letting you have a great night’s sleep.
You can tell you have a problem if you get air blowing in your eyes, or you hear a lot of hissing sounds.
The common causes of mask leaks are:
Mask Too Old
If a mask goes beyond 6 months it looses it’s flexibility and the straps are stretched out and you get air leaks. You need to get a replacement.
Mask washed with Anti-Bacterial Soap
Washing with Anti-bacterial soap causes the plastic to dry out and becoming less flexible. You’ll need to get a new mask.
Having an open mouth let’s the air bypass the nose and reduces the effectiveness of the mask. You need to close the mouth and using a chin strap lets you do just this.
A side sleeper places the mask on the pillow and it leads to a pressure leak on one side. If you’re one of these then you should switch to a nasal mask if possible or use a CPAP pillow.
A pillow is a u-shaped pillow that lets the mask go into the gap and not get twisted by your pillow.
I had the biggest problem with my beard. It’s a thick beard and mustache. I couldn’t use a nasal mask because my pressure was too high. To get the mask to not leak I had to tighten it up to maximum which wasn’t comfortable.
My doctor suggested that I use lanolin to soften the hair. But again because my pressure was high I had it still leaked out.
He then suggested using a gel pillow full face mask. This type of gel has a larger area to get a seal with. It works with a lot of people but not with me.
The only solution was for me to shave off the beard and mustache. I kept a short beard and trimmed down the mustache.
Not ideal but I preferred sleeping rather than getting terrible night’s sleep.
Too Big/Too Small
Being a large guy (>300lbs) I thought I should have a large mask. That was a mistake. I was actually a medium sized face. The mask being too big didn’t meet the contors of my face and caused a lot of leaks.
The fix was to move down a size. For nasal pillow masks they come with 4 sets of different sized pillows. With my full face mask it came with three different sizes so I could try. So if you can chose masks that provide different sizes. It’ll make selecting one easier.