CPAP Full Face Masks: A Selection Guide
Full Face Mask Overview
The full face mask for CPAP covers the mouth and all or most of the nose. A person who breathes mostly through their mouth or who has chronic nasal congestion may benefit from full face masks. A clinician may also recommend a full face mask for someone who needs higher levels of support on their CPAP machine. Some people simply prefer the solid feel of a full face mask over a nasal mask or pillow mask. Full face masks may use a cushion that surrounds the mouth and the nose completely, an "over the mouth" cushion that covers the mouth and seals the nostrils, or some other design altogether. Since full face masks touch more surface area on the face, they can take a little more finesse to seal initially than a nasal mask.
There are numerous full face mask models available to consider. The different brands and models of masks vary regarding features related to stability, comfort, freedom of movement, and ease of connection and disconnection. To select the optimal mask, you need to determine what characteristics are most important to you. Ultimately, the best full face mask for you is the one that you contentedly wear consistently to treat your sleep apnea. Key questions to ask when selecting a mask:
- Where does the mask touch the face and head?
- Where does the CPAP tubing connect?
- How easy is it to get on and off?
- Which parts require replacing at regular intervals?
- What kind of breather am I?
- How high are my CPAP settings?
Variations among full face masks
Full face masks with face cushions that are triangular and fit near the bridge of the nose and below the bottom lip are the most common type of full face mask and the easiest to fit. These triangular shaped masks typically use a frame with a vertical bar between the cushion and forehead that ends in a soft pad that rests between your eyes. This design is very stable and leak-resistant. The ResMed Mirage and Respironics ComfortGel Blue Full Face Mask are examples of this style of full face CPAP mask.
Some masks eliminate the vertical stabilizing bar and the forehead pad. They still sit over your nose and mouth, but nothing comes up between your eyes. This style may take a bit longer to stabilize but leaves your face free for wearing glasses and keeps your field of vision unobstructed. This style of full face mask is an excellent choice for a mouth breather with claustrophobia. The ResMed Quattro Fx and ResMed AirTouch F20 are examples of this style of full-face mask.
Some full face masks have an even more compact design and use a cushion that sits over the mouth and under the nostrils like the Dreamwear Full Face mask or the Amara View Mask by Philips Respironics and the AirFit F30 by ResMed. The cushion occludes the nostrils completely and seals around the mouth. This ultra-minimalist style may not be ideal for a person with CPAP settings in the higher range. It may also take a bit longer to fit precisely, but it does allow maximum freedom of movement with the least amount of contact on the face. The Respironics DreamWear Full face mask and the AirFit F30 by ResMed are examples of this over the mouth style mask. The Fisher Paykel Oracle mask is similar, but it leaves the nostrils open.
New mask designs are coming out all the time with new options and variations. The Respironics FitLife is a mask that throws minimalism out the window. It fits across the forehead, over the eyes, mouth, and nose. The view through the mask is transparent. It gives tender spots like the bridge of the nose a break from CPAP cushion contact. The Circadence Anew is a full face mask made from cloth for people with silicone sensitivity.
Sizing, fitting and care of the mask
After you select the style and brand of a mask, you need to identify a size. Masks are not one size fits all. The best size for you in one type of mask may not be the best size for you in another style of mask or brand of mask. Sizing guides are available to select the optimal size mask for your face for a specific mask.
When sizing a full face mask, keep your mouth slightly open mouth. The inner cushion rim on most masks should rest ¼ inch to ½ inch below a slightly opened mouth.
Headgear also adjusts to keep the mask in place. Head size and face size do not always match, so it is common to need different sizes. Headgear can be purchased separately to fine-tune mask fit. When selecting any mask, always pay attention to size gauges and headgear sizes. Getting the right size is critical to comfort and effective sleep therapy.
Once you receive your mask, take some time well before bed to fit it to your face and to learn to take it on and off. Follow the directions included with the mask exactly for fitting and adjustment. Also, review the cleaning recommendations and the part replacement schedule to increase your satisfaction with the mask and improve the life of the mask.
Hybrid CPAP Mask - Full Face
The Hybrid CPAP Full Face Mask from DeVilbiss is a cross between a nasal pillow mask and full face mask leaving the line in sight free to read or watch TV. An innovative hybrid design allows this mask to function as a combination serving as a nasal interface and oral device. The DeVilbiss hybrid is a dual airway interface, it comes with three sizes of nasal pillows and oral cushions to ensure the right fit. Other masks that could be considered as a hybrid full face mask is the DreamWear Full Face mask, Amara View Mask, and the Airfit F30 as these types of mask do not obstruct the vision which is more like a nasal mask but with the oral mask as well.