Your sleep apnea or snoring no longer have to remain untreated. Technology has advanced rapidly since the first CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines arrived on the scene in the early 80s. For those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a CPAP can literally be a lifesaver.
Untreated sleep apnea can result in significant health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Fatigue from lack of sleep and oxygen can lead to issues like depression, crankiness and increased risks of accidents.
Modern CPAP machines are quieter, smaller and easier to travel with than ever before. Today’s “smart CPAP” machines track data and provide adjustment options that were almost unimaginable, just 10 years ago.
Just as the CPAP machine has evolved, so have CPAP masks. Gone are the big, rigid, bulky masks of yesteryear. The development of new technologies for CPAP masks is making sleep easier for obstructive sleep apnea sufferers.
Increased CPAP Mask Variety
Many people associate sleep apnea treatment with large, full-face masks. Though full-face masks are the preferred treatment for many, there are now many CPAP mask options available. Nasal pillow masks made their way into the market in the mid-90s and improvements continue to be made.
Masks are now significantly smaller and less obtrusive. Many mask options are small and quite comfortable. Multiple CPAP mask types and brands are available, based on need and personal preference.
There are three common types of CPAP masks on the market today:
- The full face mask
- The nasal mask
- The nasal pillow
The great news is, there is tremendous variety among these masks. Masks are now made of lightweight, flexible material, making them easier to sleep in and less prone to air leakage. CPAP mask cushions are now made of gel, silicone, foam and even fabrics. Masks and the straps used to secure them vary by size, material, shape and even color.
Customized Masks, The Wave of the Future
As the technology of CPAP masks improves, more customization options have become available. It’s not uncommon to find masks that are designed specifically for men or women and their unique needs. The shape and size of the head and nose are now taken into account during the design of CPAP masks. Specific straps and tubing can be attached to masks to increase comfort level and the ability to move of the wearer.
The newest technological advances in CPAP mask development are due to the advent of 3D printing devices. Patient data is now being used to create highly customized molds for CPAP masks and further high-tech customization is now on the horizon.
If you use a CPAP machine, it is important to find a mask that fits well and provides comfort. An appropriate seal will keep your airway open throughout the night. An ill-fitting mask can cause leakage and air pressure issues. Even worse, an uncomfortable mask can lead to infrequent use and untreated obstructive sleep apnea.
New options are available, so it’s important to talk to your physician if your CPAP mask is preventing you from using your machine. CPAP machines are not the only option for sleep apnea treatment, but for many, they can be quite effective.
And if a CPAP mask isn’t the best option for you, ask your doctor to recommend alternative options.
If you are snoring, and suspect that you might have obstructive sleep apnea, take our snore quiz to get a feel for your risk level or schedule an appointment with an eos sleep board-certified otolaryngologists.