Finding A Comfortable Cpap Mask: Problems With Mask Fit Frequently Leads To Patients Stopping Cpap Therapy

A diagnosis of Sleep Apnea will usually result in a CPAP titration and a prescription for a CPAP machine. Finding a comfortable mask can be a daunting task. 60% of all patients prescribed CPAP abandon CPAP therapy entirely and problem related to mask fit is sited as a primary reason.

According to Mayo Clinic the wrong size or style of mask is a common problem with CPAP. Masks may be full face that cover the mouth and nose with straps over various areas of the face. These make many patients feel claustrophobic. Other masks feature nasal pillows that under and into your nose but still need straps to hold them in place. Masks come in different sizes that vary by manufacturer and mask style. Most Cpap masks are adjustable. An excellent discussion of how to find the right mask can be found on the website of the American Sleep Apnea Association at another excellent resource is the Talk About Sleep website which has superb message boards on Sleep Apnea Treatments as well as an excellent online store for CPAP machines, masks and supplies.

The choice of a mask is an important to CPAP compliance. 60% of patients abandon CPAP and many forgo treatment completely. It is vital to treat sleep apnea. Read more about the dangers of sleep apnea at



IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT SLEEP APNEA BE TREATED. CPAP is the most effective treatment available but poor compliance has always been a problem.

Patients who are morbidly obese should usually be treated with CPAP as a first choice because they frequently fail other therapies such as oral appliances. Even the morbidly obese are better off with partial treatment with an oral appliance than with no treatment.

Some of the mask choices ACCORDING TO CPAP.COM are Nasal mask,Full Face mask,Nasal Pillow, Nasal Prong, Hybrid,Oral or total face Total Face mask according to that lists hundreds of masks with user ratings from the following brands AEIOMed, Circadiance,, CPAPPRO,
DeVilbiss, Fisher & Paykel, Hans Rudolph, InnoMed, Invacare, Philips Respironics
PMI Probasics, Puritan Bennett, Resmed, SleepNet, Tiara, Ventlab.

Learn more about problems with CPAP masks at:

Active Sleeper
Multiple Sizes Included
Mouth Breather
Replaceable Cushion
Small Face
Wide Face
Facial Hair
TV Friendly
Headgear Included
Headgear Quick-Clips
Gel Cushion


There is an enormous variety in machines, masks, hoses humidifiers and other incidentals to increase the comfort of CPAP treatment.

Regardless of all these options a recent study showed 60% of patients totally abandon Cpap and that patients that use their cpap average only 4-5 hours a day not the recommended 7-8 hours of use.

About 1 in four patients have no trouble adapting to CPAP and love it from the start of treatment. A smaller group of patients attempt to comply with CPAP often not wearing the CPAP long enought to be therapeutic. 60% quit CPAP and need alternative treatment.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Oral Appliances and Dental Sleep Medicine are a first line treatment alternative to CPAP. Surgery is not considered a first line treatment of sleep apnea but can be very successful. Patients should usually avoid surgery to the soft palate that has been shown ineffective in eliminating sleep apnea, very painful and carrying a high risk of morbidity.

Oral Appliances are considered a first line treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea and an alternative treatment for severe apnea when CPAP is not desired or tolerated.

Medicare has recognized that the majority of patients do not use CPAP and will now only cover CPAP if it is used 70% of the time.

The National Sleep Foundation is also aware of poor CPAP compliance but has declared tha t”Oral Appliances are a therapy whose time has come!”

Problems from masks include air leaks that can cause dry eyes, acne from the mask, facial ulcers and sore from the masks, facial indentations or distortions. The list is endless which is why 60% of patients abandon treatment.


Dr Thorton has pioneered methods to connect CPAP masks (all types) to oral appliances to increase comfort for the patient. Combination therapy of oral appliances and CPAP can dramatically reduce necessary pressure in CPAP treatment and reduce problems like mask leaks and facial irritations.

Dr Ira L Shapira treats patients in Chicagoland with comfortable oral appliances. Contact Dr Shapira Toll Free at 1-8-NO-PAP-MASK or thru his websites:

Learn more about problems with CPAP masks at:

The following information is from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH (National Institute of Health)
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery are used to treat sleep apnea. Medicines typically aren’t used to treat the condition.

The goals of treating sleep apnea are to:

Restore regular breathing during sleep
Relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness
Treatment may improve other medical problems linked to sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure. Treatment also can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

If you have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor or sleep specialist about the treatment options that will work best for you.

Lifestyle changes and/or mouthpieces may be enough to relieve mild sleep apnea. People who have moderate or severe sleep apnea may need breathing devices or surgery.

If you continue to have daytime sleepiness despite treatment, your doctor may ask whether you’re getting enough sleep. (Adults should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep; children and adolescents need more.)

If treatment and enough sleep don’t relieve your daytime sleepiness, your doctor will consider other treatment options.

Lifestyle Changes

If you have mild sleep apnea, some changes in daily activities or habits may be all the treatment you need.

Avoid alcohol and medicines that make you sleepy. They make it harder for your throat to stay open while you sleep.
Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese. Even a little weight loss can improve your symptoms.
Sleep on your side instead of your back to help keep your throat open. You can sleep with special pillows or shirts that prevent you from sleeping on your back.
Keep your nasal passages open at night with nasal sprays or allergy medicines, if needed. Talk with your doctor about whether these treatments might help you.
If you smoke, quit. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking.

A mouthpiece, sometimes called an oral appliance, may help some people who have mild sleep apnea. Your doctor also may recommend a mouthpiece if you snore loudly but don’t have sleep apnea.

A dentist or orthodontist can make a custom-fit plastic mouthpiece for treating sleep apnea. (An orthodontist specializes in correcting teeth or jaw problems.) The mouthpiece will adjust your lower jaw and your tongue to help keep your airways open while you sleep.

If you use a mouthpiece, tell your doctor if you have discomfort or pain while using the device. You may need periodic office visits so your doctor can adjust your mouthpiece to fit better.

Breathing Devices

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose. The machine gently blows air into your throat.

The air presses on the wall of your airway. The air pressure is adjusted so that it’s just enough to stop the airways from becoming narrowed or blocked during sleep.

Treating sleep apnea may help you stop snoring. But not snoring doesn’t mean that you no longer have sleep apnea or can stop using CPAP. Sleep apnea will return if CPAP is stopped or not used correctly.

Usually, a technician will come to your home to bring the CPAP equipment. The technician will set up the CPAP machine and adjust it based on your doctor’s prescription. After the initial setup, you may need to have the CPAP adjusted on occasion for the best results.

CPAP treatment may cause side effects in some people. These side effects include a dry or stuffy nose, irritated skin on your face, dry mouth, and headaches. If your CPAP isn’t adjusted properly, you may get stomach bloating and discomfort while wearing the mask.

If you’re having trouble with CPAP side effects, work with your sleep specialist, his or her nursing staff, and the CPAP technician. Together, you can take steps to reduce these side effects. These steps include adjusting the CPAP settings or the size/fit of the mask, or adding moisture to the air as it flows through the mask. A nasal spray may relieve a dry, stuffy, or runny nose.

There are many types of CPAP machines and masks. Tell your doctor if you’re not happy with the type you’re using. He or she may suggest switching to a different type that may work better for you.

People who have severe sleep apnea symptoms generally feel much better once they begin treatment with CPAP.


Some people who have sleep apnea may benefit from surgery. The type of surgery and how well it works depend on the cause of the sleep apnea.

Surgery is done to widen breathing passages. It usually involves shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the mouth and throat or resetting the lower jaw.

Surgery to shrink or stiffen excess tissue in the mouth or throat is done in a doctor’s office or a hospital. Shrinking tissue may involve small shots or other treatments to the tissue. A series of such treatments may be needed to shrink the excess tissue. To stiffen excess tissue, the doctor makes a small cut in the tissue and inserts a small piece of stiff plastic.

Surgery to remove excess tissue is done in a hospital. You’re given medicine that makes you sleep during the surgery. After surgery, you may have throat pain that lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.

Surgery to remove the tonsils, if they’re blocking the airway, may be very helpful for some children. Your child’s doctor may suggest waiting some time to see whether these tissues shrink on their own. This is common as small children grow.

Living With Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea can be very serious. However, following an effective treatment plan often can improve your quality of life quite a bit.

Treatment can improve your sleep and relieve daytime sleepiness. It also may make you less likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems linked to sleep apnea.

Treatment may improve your overall health and happiness as well as your quality of sleep (and possibly your family’s quality of sleep).

Ongoing Health Care Needs

Follow up with your doctor regularly to make sure your treatment is working. Tell him or her if the treatment is causing side effects that you can’t handle.

Ongoing care is very important if you’re getting CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment. It may take a while before you adjust to using CPAP.

If you aren’t comfortable with your CPAP device, or if it doesn’t seem to be working, let your doctor know. You may need to switch to a different device or mask. Or, you may need treatment to relieve CPAP side effects.

Try not to gain weight. Weight gain can worsen sleep apnea and require adjustments to your CPAP device. In contrast, weight loss may relieve your sleep apnea.

Until your sleep apnea is properly treated, know the dangers of driving or operating heavy machinery while sleepy.

If you’re having any type of surgery that requires medicine to put you to sleep, let your surgeon and doctors know you have sleep apnea. They might have to take extra steps to make sure your airway stays open during the surgery.

If you’re using a mouthpiece to treat your sleep apnea, you may need to have routine checkups with your dentist.

How Can Family Members Help?

Often, people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it. They’re not aware that their breathing stops and starts many times while they’re sleeping. Family members or bed partners usually are the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.

Family members can do many things to help a loved one who has sleep apnea.

Let the person know if he or she snores loudly during sleep or has breathing stops and starts.
Encourage the person to get medical help.
Help the person follow the doctor’s treatment plan, including CPAP treatment.
Provide emotional support.