The mask is arguably the most important piece of equipment in your CPAP therapy arsenal.

There are lots of CPAP machines on the market.

All have different features and advantages, but without a well-fitted mask all the technology in the world won’t help your sleep therapy. Not only can the wrong mask cause minor annoyance with air leaks or chafing, but it can seriously get in the way of the therapy you’ve gone to the trouble of seeking out. In extreme cases, an ill-fitting mask can prove so irritating that patients will simply give up and hang up their hose for good.

But don’t give up – whatever your size, pressure needs or sleeping style there’s a perfect mask for you – it’s just a question of wading into the options and finding the right fit.

So how do you know which mask is right for you? Here’s a breakdown of pros and cons for different mask styles that’ll help you figure it out.


The classic – the nasal mask

This is far and away the most common style of mask in use, so we might as well start with the classic. The nasal mask goes right to the source of snoring and sleep apnea, keeping your nasal passages open while you sleep by providing positive air pressure through a mask that covers your entire nose, but not your mouth. There are different makes and models, but all nasal masks are made of rigid plastic, held in place with adjustable headgear using some form of cushion to provide a comfortable, leak-free fit on your face.

Side view of man wearing n20 mask


Pros and cons of Nasal masks

PROS:

  • Widely used, proven technology
  • Easy, intuitive fit and adjustments
  • Stays securely put even for more “active” sleepers

CONS:

  • Some patients can find a larger mask claustrophobic
  • Headgear attachments can impede line of sight
  • Not suitable for chronic mouth-breathers or those with very high pressure requirements

Man sleeping while wearing a Wisp nasal mask


Shop Nasal Masks

n20 mask for him

Shop AirFit N20

Masque Mirage FX de Resmed

Shop Mirage FX

Philips Respironics Wisp Nasal Mask with Fabric Frame

Shop the Wisp

ESON 2 CPAP mask from Fisher & Paykel

Shop ESON 2


The big guns – the full-face mask

No matter what the name sounds like, full-face masks don’t actually cover your whole face. Though some may be turned off by their larger size, full face masks actually have a lot of advantages and don’t have to feel like they’re in the way.

Just a little larger than common nasal masks, the full-face versions cover your nose and also dip down over your mouth with an airtight seal. These bad boys will stay in place no matter how high your pressure needs are, have a lower chance of shifting when you move, and will provide continuous pressure even if you’re in the habit of opening your mouth when you sleep. They’re also the only style of mask that works when your nose is congested from a cold or allergies, meaning you continue to get the best sleep you can, just when you need it the most.

They work so well in fact that many who prefer smaller masks will keep a full-face version around as an insurance policy for nights when they’re under the weather.

Side view of man wearing vitera mask


Pros and Cons of Full Face masks

PROS:

  • A workhorse that won’t let you down even if your apnea demands high pressure treatment
  • Will always stay in place and works perfectly for mouth-breathing sleepers
  • Keeps working at full efficiency even if your nose is completely blocked, helping you get over a cold faster

CONS:

  • They are bulkier than other types of mask
  • Those with claustrophobia may find them intimidating

Man sleeping comfortably while wearing a Dreamwear full face mask


Shop Full Face Masks

Airtouch F20 from Resmed

Shop Airtouch F20

Dreamwear Full Face mask from Respironics

Shop Dreamwear full face mask

Vitera full face CPAP mask from Fisher & Pakel

Shop Vitera

Mirage Quattro full face CPAP mask from ResMed

Shop Mirage Quattro


A spin on the original – under the nose masks

Under the nose masks are a relative newcomer to the field, and they aim to provide the same performance and comfort as the classic style but in a less cumbersome shape that allows more freedom and a clear line of sight.

Under the nose designs are available in nasal (covering the bottom of your nose but not your mouth) and full-face (covering mouth and nose) versions. These are technically much like their larger cousins, providing a seal around the nose alone or the mouth along with it, but in a smaller package that sits under the nose for a less bulky feel.

Side view of a man wearing the Dreamwear nasal mask


Pros and Cons of Under the nose masks

PROS:

  • A newer take on a proven design
  • Clear line of sight and a more open feel
  • No contact or chafing on the bridge of your nose

CONS:

  • Can be more challenging to securely fit than classic nasal or full-face masks
  • Some people who move a lot in their sleep may find them harder to keep in place

Man asleep in bed, wearing a Dreamwear nasal mask


Shop Under the nose Masks

Dreamwear nasal mask

Shop Dreamwear nasal


Minimalist’s dream – the nasal pillow mask

If you love the benefits of CPAP treatment, but can’t stand having a mask covering part of your face, a nasal pillow mask might be just the thing for you. The sleekest, most minimized design available, these masks have unobtrusive hose connections and deliver pressurized air through two little silicone pillows directly into your nostrils.

They leave your nose and mouth completely uncovered, and there are no straps or bars climbing into your field of view. There can be some challenges with these masks – the fit needs to be perfect or they can shift if you toss around at night, occasionally leading to discomfort from over-tightening of straps, and they may not always maintain a seal under extreme air pressure situations.

They can also occasionally irritate the nostrils for new users who aren’t used to them, but using a nasal lubricant makes adapting to the new style much easier. Those minor issues aside, those who are well suited to the freedom of a minimalist nasal pillow mask swear by them.

Side view of man wearing an AirFit P10 mask


Pros and Cons of Nasal Pillow Masks

PROS:

  • Sleekest, least obtrusive design available
  • Clear sight-lines
  • Airy, open, almost not-even-there feel

CONS:

  • Some patients can find it difficult to maintain a secure seal
  • Care must be taken to avoid over-tightening adjustable straps
  • Not suitable for chronic mouth-breathers or those with very high pressure requirements
  • Can be irritating when you are not used to it, but with the help of a nasal lubricant, you may find it easier to adapt

Man sleeping in bed while wearing an AirFit P10 CPAP mask


Shop Nasal Pillow Masks

P10 nasal pillow mask from side view

Shop AirFit P10

Dreamwear Silicon pillow mask

Shop Dreamwear Silicon

AirFit p30i CPAP mask from Resmed

Shop AirFit p30i

The Brevida Nasal Pillows Mask from Fisher & Paykel

Shop Brevida


Putting it all together

This outline gives a good overview of the different types of mask available, and finding the right one for you can make all the difference. On top of the different basic types, many masks come with various cushion sizes to adapt to any shape of face, and all have adjustable headgear to fine tune the fit.

Everyone is different, and style considerations aside, the key is finding the mask that works best for you. With the right mask, you’ll get the most benefit possible from your CPAP therapy and find yourself better rested and healthier for it.

If you’re still unsure which style is best for you, speak with one of our expert respiratory therapists – they’ll be happy to assess you and walk you through the options to make sure you find the mask of your dreams.

Man sleeping comfortably in bed, wearing a CPAP nasal pillow mask

Whether you love winter or the thought of snow gives you the shivers, the cold months will be here soon.

The coming weather means some extra preparations – car mechanics will start to remind you to get your snow tires on and have your engine checked (especially that battery!), you might be slogging leaves from your eaves or looking to find that snow shovel you stashed somewhere in the garage last spring.


Believe it or not, there’s winterizing to do for your CPAP as well, but luckily Apnea Health can help!

Colder weather means cold and flu (and now Covid) season so extra sanitizing is in order, plus fluctuations in temperature can cause water condensation to happen in your tube (they call it rainout).

If you do get sick, nasal masks become hard or impossible to use, and depending where you live an increase in ice and harsh weather can make the household power supply iffy. Read on for some helpful tips on winterizing your CPAP…


Don’t get rained out

The main cause of rainout is the difference in the temperature of your room and the temperature in your tubing. The ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet, Respironics DreamStation and F&P Sleep Style prevent rainout with their climate control functions:

Automated Climate Control: Adjusts the humidity level of your water chamber and the temperature of your heated hose to match your room’s climate
Heated Tubing: Controls the the moisture levels and the air temperature in your tube
Tube Drier: After using your CPAP, a snowflake symbol will flash and the machine will dry out any moisture that remains in your hose

woman adjusting humidity on her CPAP


There are easy fixes though

CPAP machines like the ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet, the Respironics DreamStation and F&P SleepStyle all come with a heated tube which allows you to control the humidity. You may not even be aware that you have a heated hose or how to adjust it? No worries, we’ve prepared a video for you on how to fine tune the tube’s temperature.

Watch our video to learn more.


Tube covers

Another option is a tube cover – sort of the CPAP equivalent of fuzzy winter socks. Simple as can be, it’s an insulating wrap that goes on the hose to keep the temperature even and the condensation to a minimum.

CPAPology Joey tube cover

Shop Insulation tube Cover


Keep it clean!

While we’re on the subject of extra humidity, the moisture in your CPAP can become a prime environment for bacteria and viruses if you don’t watch your step.

If you want to stay ahead of the flu, one of the most important things you can do is make sure you’re getting enough restful sleep (you’re already doing that with your treatment – good for you!). That’s key for keeping your immune system working at its best.

CPAP machine can be a breeding ground for mold, fungus, bacteria and viruses


The next thing you can do to help yourself is make sure you keep your equipment sanitary.

CPAP wipes used daily are an easy and quick way to keep your mask clean and germ-free. If you want to make extra sure you’ve rid your equipment of bacteria, viruses and mold, you may want to invest in a Lumin UV Sterilizer.

It uses ultraviolet light to destroy 99.9% of contaminants – now those are some odds we can live with! It takes hardly any effort and can do its job in about five minutes.

If you don’t have a Lumin, you can learn more about cleaning your gear the old-fashioned way by watching the video below:

 


Put a stuffy nose in its place

Some of us get colds more often than others – I usually count on coming down with something about once a winter. When it happens, congestion can make breathing through your nose all but impossible! Compact nasal or nasal pillow masks are light and unobtrusive, but when you have a stuffy nose, forget about it.

A full face mask, like the Vitera by Fisher & Paykel, gets you around the issue by allowing you to breathe through your mouth while continuing your nightly CPAP treatment. That way not only do you get to breathe comfortably, but you also continue to reap the benefits of CPAP treatment so you can get your rest and get better faster.

In fact, full face masks work so well when you’re congested that lots of patients choose to pick one up as a backup for when colds or allergies make their regular mask uncomfortable to use.

woman with allergies


Don’t get left in the cold

Winter storms happen – falling tree branches take out power lines, ice and winds wreak havoc on towers, and in the case of a bad ice storm it could mean we’re stuck without power for hours or even days.

But there’s no reason for an interruption in power to interrupt your sleep! With a battery backup, you can plug your CPAP into the wall through the battery so it runs all night from regular AC power, then seamlessly kicks over to the battery if the power in the house goes out – you might not even wake up enough to notice.

Even if the power goes out longer term, a battery backup will keep your CPAP running for at least two nights, and if you’re really stuck in a winter apocalypse, there’s even an option to recharge using an automotive adapter.

There are CPAP batteries to power your machine through everything from a winter storm to a summer camping trip (or a camping trip in a winter storm, but if you do that you’re braver than I).

1 pilot

Pilot 12 Lite (Works with: Dreamstation, System One)

CPAP Batteries

Shop Pilot 24 Lite (Works with: Airsense 10, Airmini, DreamStation Go)


Conclusion

Just like with your car or your house, there are simple steps you can take to winterize your CPAP machine to make sure you get the most out of your therapy all year round. And as always, if you have any questions, we’re here to help!

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Introduction

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines have been a game-changer in the treatment of sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder. Among the leading brands, ResMed’s AirSense series has garnered widespread recognition for its innovative features and superior performance, making it one of the most popular machines amongst our patients.


What’s in the box?

  • Auto-Adjusting Airsense 11 CPAP Machine
  • Heated Humidifier
  • Water Chamber
  • Disposable Filter
  • Ultra lightweight Heated Tube
  • Power Supply and Cord
  • Travel Bag/Carrying Case
  • User Manual


Features and Specifications Overview

Features and Specifications AirSense 11 AutoSet AirSense 10 AutoSet
Ultra-quiet operation
Sound level 27dBA 26.6 dBA
Weight 2.5 lbs 2.75 lbs
Size (machine only) 10.21″ x 3.72″ x 5.45″ 10.04″ x 4.57″ x 5.91″
Power adapter 65W power adapter 90W power adapter
Maximum operating altitude 9870 ft 8500 ft
AutoSet for her Integrated into the machine Separate machine
Backup battery available
Built-in humidifier
Heated humidifier
Integrated heated hose
Pressure settings ranging from 4 cm H2O to 20 cm H2O
Ramp functionality
Therapeutic Data Tracking
Care Check-In X
Personal Therapy Assistant X
Bluetooth® connectivity X
Diagnostic mode X
OTA: “Over-the-Air” software updates X

Airsense 11 CPAP machine


Design and portability

The AirSense 11 boasts a sleek design, and ResMed took user feedback into account by making the AirSense 11 even more travel-friendly. It is notably lighter and more compact than the AirSense 10, making it easier for patients to continue their CPAP treatment abroad.


Improved user experience

One of the most noticeable improvements in the AirSense 11 is its user interface and controls. With a large, intuitive touchscreen, it offers a more user-friendly experience and menu navigation has been streamlined, allowing easier access to settings and data.

Additionally, the AirSense 11 provides personalized sleep insights and feedback, empowering users to take charge of their sleep apnea treatment and make informed decisions about their sleep health, which brings us to the next feature…


The Care Check-In function

Care Check-In is a tool that helps encourage patients during key stages of their treatment. When this function is activated, when he wakes up, the patient must answer simple questions that he sees appear on his screen. The questions relate to his sleepiness, his treatment experience, the quality of his sleep and the identification of his adaptation difficulties. Responses are displayed in AirView, the software that transmits the data to the CPAP provider. This makes it easier for the clinician to target and identify patients who are having difficulty with treatment and get them help quickly.

At the same time, patients benefit from tailor-made advice to help them solve basic technical problems and personalized messages that encourage them to continue their treatment.


Advanced Therapeutic Features

ResMed has integrated advanced therapy features into the AirSense 11 to improve the efficiency and comfort of CPAP therapy. Like the previous model, the AirSense 11 includes AutoRamp mode, which delivers personalized pressure to ensure a smooth and comfortable transition to prescribed pressure levels. This feature is especially beneficial for new users or those who find it difficult to adjust to therapy settings.


Connectivity and data management

With built-in wireless connectivity, users can access their therapy data and sleep reports through ResMed’s cloud-based MyAir app which, in turn, allows healthcare professionals to easily monitor the progress of therapy.

While the AirSense 10 also offered connectivity options, the AirSense 11 goes a step further by incorporating enhanced encryption and data security features to protect user privacy.


Comfort and noise reduction

Sleep apnea therapy shouldn’t disrupt your sleep quality and the AirSense 11 takes it to the next level with even quieter operation, ensuring a peaceful sleeping environment for users and their bed partners.

Additionally, the AirSense 11 features advanced humidification technology, reducing nasal dryness and promoting overall comfort during treatment.


Diagnostic Mode Feature

Diagnostic mode is a special feature that helps users know if the device is working well, giving detailed information on its’ sensors, filters, and overall performance.

With this mode, people can easily check on their machine’s airflow, pressure, and humidity to make sure everything is working properly. If there is a problem, the diagnostic mode flags it and offers suggestions for fixing it. This mode helps people continue their treatment and ensures they get the best results from the AirSense 11.


Some possible drawbacks

Although the majority of Airsense 11 users have not experienced any difficulty with the device, it is important to recognize that people with limited dexterity may experience difficulty with using the touchscreen.

The non-flexible tube can also present some challenges for people who toss and turn at night and therefore need a tube that can move with them.

For people who are likely to experience the issues mentioned above, we recommend using the Airsense 10 instead.


Shop Airsense 11 products

Airsense 11 CPAP machine

Airsense 11 Replacement kit

Airsense 11 tubing

Airsense 11 water chamber

Airsense 11 filters


Conclusion

The AirSense 11 represents a significant leap forward in sleep apnea therapy with its sleek design, improved user interface, advanced therapy features, improved connectivity, and focus on user comfort.

While the AirSense 10 is still a reliable choice, the AirSense 11 offers an enhanced experience for people looking for the latest advancements in sleep apnea treatment.

Choosing the right CPAP machine is a personal decision, but ResMed’s AirSense series undoubtedly offers industry-leading solutions for improving sleep quality and overall well-being.

 

These top tips can help you get a good night’s sleep every night this summer so that you can have the energy to enjoy the season to the fullest.

Ah, summer nights – we wait all year to enjoy warm evenings outdoors, relaxed school and work schedules, big BBQ get-togethers, and time spent in and on the water. But the summer heat and increased activity makes it harder to sleep peacefully, and can worsen symptoms for sleep apnea sufferers. Get a good night’s sleep every night this summer with these top tips that will have you waking up rested and brimming with energy to make the most of everything the season has to offer.

sun tired


Why is it so hard to get a good night’s sleep in the summertime?

  • Elevated temperatures and humidity

    Summer nights can be hot and steamy – and during heat waves in particular, it can be very difficult to find to get comfortable to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the ideal temperature range for sleep is between 12°C and 24°C, and if temperatures vary outside that range, sleep can be disturbed. Add in a few extra degrees for the humidity, and it’s common for evening temperatures in the summer to be well above this range.

  • Longer days and more sunlight

    The farther away we live from the equator, the more the summer season lengthens our days. In much of Canada, the sun doesn’t set until well into the evening, and is up long before we want to be. Early light can wake us up and make it difficult to fall back asleep, robbing us of precious hours of rest.

  • More time spent outdoors

    While fresh air can actually help improve sleep, increased time spent outside can also heighten our exposure to allergens, which can lead to nasal congestion that makes it harder to breathe when sleeping and can worsen symptoms for sleep apnea sufferers. Click here to read more about seasonal allergies and sleep apnea.

  • Vacation travel

    Travel across time zones can cause jet lag, which upsets our regular circadian rhythms and can leave us wide awake in the middle of the night and sleepy during the day. In addition, sleep apnea sufferers who require equipment to help them sleep can forget to bring what they need on vacation, or find themselves in a situation where it is difficult to use the equipment, such as on a camping trip. Not using this equipment, even for one night, can have drastic effects on the quality of sleep.

Woman lying in bed, rubbing her blocked sinuses caused by allergies


Six tips for getting a good night’s sleep every night this summer:

  1. Stick to a routine as much as possible.

    Go to bed around the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, including on weekends. Because digestion can cause discomfort in the heat, avoid eating and drinking for one to two hours before bedtime, and if drinking alcohol, have your last drink at least three hours before going to bed. Caffeine is also known to disrupt sleep, so avoid it after midday.

  2. Embrace the darkness.

    Make sure your room is dark at nighttime by drawing the curtains or blinds and limiting ambient light from lamps and screens. If sunlight streams into your window before you are ready to rise, look into blackout curtains or sleep with an eye mask.

  3. Turn down the noise.

    While it’s tempting to sleep with the windows open on summer nights, there’s nothing like the noisy chirping of birds at dawn or the roar of a lawn mower to wake us up earlier than we’d like to rise. If that is the case for you, close the windows or wear earplugs. If noise is an issue when you are falling asleep, you may want to look into a white noise machine or use a fan (see #4 below).

  4. Create a comfortable environment for sleep.

    Make sure the room temperature is comfortable, and switch out your regular duvet for something lighter. If you sleep with a partner, you may both be more comfortable with your own light quilt or coverlet. If your pillow gets overheated, consider one made of buckwheat, which does not trap heat. To keep temperatures cool, use air conditioning if possible, or perhaps a fan, which has the added benefit of providing a soothing ambient noise. Are you experiencing condensation in your CPAP mask? Learn how to adjust the humidity on your CPAP machine.

  5. Have a heat-wave game plan.

    When the temperature and humidity spike, a cool shower or swim before bed can help cool the body before slipping between the sheets. If it’s really hot, consider slipping ice packs between your sheets a few hours before bed, and take them out when you turn in. Remember that most body heat escapes via the head, hands, and feet, so make sure those body parts are left exposed. And drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, but ease up one to two hours before bed, so that you won’t wake up during the night to use the bathroom.

  6. When traveling, plan ahead for good sleep.

    Make a checklist to be sure to pack any equipment you may need for sleep apnea, and carry supplies that can help improve sleep on the plane with you, including earplugs, a sleep mask, and a travel pillow. Upon arrival, do what you can to make your sleeping environment as comfortable, dark, and cool as possible. To mitigate the effects of jet lag, adopt the schedule of your new time zone immediately, and make every effort to be outside in the morning sun at the time you would now like to wake up. This will help reset your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

routine


At Apnea Health, we can help

If you still find that despite this tips you are unable to get a good night’s sleep, there may be more than the summer heat, humidity and long hours of sunlight to blame. If you are not sleeping well and waking up exhausted, contact one of our sleep specialists today to set up a sleep test. Summer is too short not to be enjoyed to the fullest, and we can help you get your sleep back on track so that you will have the energy you need to get outside, have fun, and make the most of the beautiful weather.

guy sleeping

Travelling with a CPAP machine keeps getting easier.

Whether you’re bringing your home CPAP in a shoulder bag on the plane, or you’ve rented a travel CPAP for the next great road trip, leaving home doesn’t mean leaving better sleep behind. But what if your adventures take you to a place without easy access to power? What if you’re going to sleep in a tent, or that cabin where the power goes out every time there’s a rainstorm? With CPAP batteries, what used to mean suffering through off nights while you’re away can now be as comfortable as sleeping at home (mosquitoes notwithstanding).


Portable power for CPAP machines

After testing options for travel CPAP machines a few weeks ago, it was time to push the test even further and see how they could perform untethered. The option to run on a battery means you can use your CPAP anywhere – whether on a plane, the passenger seat of a car, or on a crazy backwoods adventure. On trial this time were the Medistrom Pilot-12 Lite and Pilot-24 Lite batteries, as well as their many charging options.


Getting the right battery for the job

The first thing I was surprised to discover is that even though there are different voltages (12 and 24-volt versions, as the names imply) there really isn’t a runtime advantage to the higher voltage battery.

The 12V works for some machines, and the 24V for others. I won’t give the whole which-battery-for-which-machine breakdown here (the team at Apnée Santé will make sure you get the size you need) but the general idea is that whichever one you’re using, it will provide reliable power for one night’s sleep (an average of 12-13 hours to be exact, and if you’re getting more sleep than that you’re luckier than me).

pilot 24 lite cpap battery pack with airsense aircurve cpap


Basic battery functions

The batteries (either voltage) weigh next to nothing and are easy to use. They both have a power button and a light to show when they’re in use, and there’s a gauge to show how much charge is left. Charging and plugging in machines is simple and foolproof, and the batteries even have a built-in LED flashlight to help you get your tubes and cables untangled in the dark.

The cores of these batteries are lithium-ion, which makes for a couple of key advantages: first, they’ll maintain full power output until just before they’re drained, so you won’t lose air pressure as the night goes on. Another perk is they’ll hold their charge for an incredibly long time while sitting idle, so when you put one away charged you can just pick it up and go the next time (though they insist in the manual that occasional users still charge them once every six months).

medistrom pilot 24 cpap


Videos about the Pilot 12 and 24 batteries


The many ways to get charged

But wait! If I’m going camping and the battery only works for one night, what good is it? Well not to worry. First of all, if you’re somewhere with access to power even for a short while during the day, you’re all set. The manual says the batteries will charge in 2-3 hours, but I found charging much faster than that.

If you can’t get to an outlet, the automotive charger (sold separately) is next in line: in my test the 24V battery got a full charge while I drove off and on throughout my day. I even took a shot at leaving the keys in the car with the ignition off in the driveway, and found I could get a full charge in around 90 minutes and still have plenty of juice left to start the car (though no promises there if your car battery is on its last legs).

If you’re so remote that you won’t have a car to plug into, the Medistrom solar charger will top up your battery in about the same time. I charged a 12V in an hour on the lawn on a hot sunny day (though it’d obviously take longer under clouds). The solar charger folds away into a neat little pack, and has DC and USB output ports so you can use it to charge all sorts of different batteries and devices.

solar panel

Solar Panel Charger for CPAP Pilot Lite Batteries


Extra ways to make use of your battery

As an added bonus, Medistrom batteries will not only power your CPAP machine away from home; they can also be used as a fallback in case of power failure. You can plug your battery into the wall, then plug your machine into the battery, and your CPAP will run on regular power but kick seamlessly over to the battery if power fails (it really works – I cheated this test by setting it up and then pulling the plug while the machine was running).

The batteries also have a USB port to juice up your favourite devices (phones and tablets, I’m looking at you!). I fully charged a dead iPhone from the Pilot-12 without putting a dent in the battery gauge, and was still able to run the CPAP overnight.

pilot 24 lite connected to resmed mini 054946e3 4923 4586 ab1d


Limitations to know about

While the freedom to take a CPAP on your next trip cataloguing butterflies in the Amazon is decidedly cool, there are drawbacks.

First and most surprisingly, the Respironics DreamStation requires a 12V power source, while the travel version (DreamStation Go) needs a 24V battery. This frankly seems like a strange oversight. The truth is there’s a fair chance that if you have two machines of any make the battery might not work for both of them (which doesn’t matter much but it would be nice to have a battery you could travel with AND use as a backup for your home machine).

The other drawback is you’ll have to turn off your machine’s humidifier or you’ll cut runtime severely – I found out the hard way that if the humidifier is on you only get about three hours before everything shuts down. The DreamStation Go even forces the issue by putting the DC input where the optional humidifier would normally connect. If humidity is crucial to your comfort, the ResMed AirMini with its built-in waterless humidification system is hands down the winner – it’s the only one that can keep up humidity on a battery.

voltage en


Conclusions

Whether you use your home CPAP machine on the road or opt for a travel-sized version, whether you’re a business traveller, an occasional backwoods adventurer, or both – the freedom to continue sleep therapy on a battery is a game changer. Though hard to believe, it’s easily possible to get good sleep without a plug, and to have the peace of mind of knowing that your CPAP machine will keep working no matter what happens to local power, even on a dark and stormy night.

Man in bed asleep with a monitor around his chest

  1. Wallace A, Bucks RS. SLEEP 2013;36(2):203-220.
  2. Accessed at https://aasm.org/brain-damage-caused-by-severe-sleep-apnea-is-reversible/ on Aug. 7, 2019.

So, you’ve been told you have Sleep Apnea and you need to start using a CPAP machine…

How in the world are you going to be able to adapt to sleeping with this contraption? Don’t despair!  I’m here to help you by sharing my top tips on getting used to CPAP.


Introduction

Since I began working as an RT specializing in sleep disorders at Apnea Health, I’ve helped many patients become more comfortable with their CPAP machines.  Patients often arrive at our clinic with positive feedback from a friend, family member or colleague who told them how CPAP treatment has changed their lives, how their adaptation was easy and that from the first night it was a success. I’ll be honest with you, this ease of adaptation is not the norm.

Surely you’re wondering how long it will take for a CPAP to improve your sleep apnea symptoms. An article published by the National Sleep Foundation reports that “most patients will require a period of adjusting to the presence of the CPAP mask … anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.”1 Don’t be alarmed if it’s even longer.

One of our secretaries (who has the benefit of CPAP support every day) took 6 months to sleep through the night without removing the mask.  Of course, this is rare, but it does occur.  The good news is that she’s been using her CPAP for 5 years now and sleeping through the night.  The key to her success was perseverance and patience.

Chantale Hébert, Respiratory Therapist with a patient


Practice Patience

I always tell my patients to be…(pardon the clichéd pun) patient! Don’t expect miracles overnight.  While some people feel benefits after just one night, most take at least a month.  Remember that you’ve been experiencing poor sleep quality for a number of years and that it will take more than one night’s sleep before you regain all your energy and feel better.

The key is to go easy on yourself.  It will take some time to get used to your new bedfellow.  Give yourself a chance to get used to wearing the mask and feeling this new surge of air.  Essentially, you need to desensitize yourself to wearing a mask and using a CPAP.


Practice makes perfect!

Doing something you’ve never done before requires some practice.  Since you’re new to the mask and the CPAP, I recommend wearing it as much as possible BEFORE bedtime so you have time to get used to it.

Here are a few scenarios to consider as opportunities to train yourself:

  • If you take naps during the day, put on your CPAP. What better way to ease into life with a mask?  This short term effort will get you accustomed to the long term commitment of sleeping with the mask all night.
  • If you have a tendency to be claustrophobic, practice wearing the mask with the CPAP running during the day. This will allow you to get used to the air pressure. You might want to use your CPAP while you watch TV in the living room, read, knit, etc. This will occupy your brain with something else instead of focusing on having a mask on and breathing.
  • Wear your CPAP 10-15 minutes before bedtime. Wearing the mask and feeling the air surge when you are awake will allow you to acclimate to it and put yourself in a more relaxed state.  As sleep approaches, just close your eyes and drift off…

woman adjusting the settings on her Resmed Airsense


Deal with discomfort right away

Sleep apnea mask discomfort — this is one of the most searched CPAP phrases on Google and it is no wonder.  People might buy a mask online or go to a homecare provider for equipment and then never return for support, but studies prove that “close follow-up, using a nurse-led or respiratory- therapist-led program … is vital for a successful outcome.”2

That’s why my colleagues and I are here to help you!

We know that patients who don’t address small discomforts early on are more likely to abandon treatment. To prevent this, as soon as you experience discomfort with your mask, or problems with the air pressure or humidity, please call us or come into the clinic so we can help you.

Don’t be discouraged.  My colleagues and I are experts at troubleshooting CPAP related problems and we have the support and knowledge of our respirologists (sleep doctors) to direct us.

mask irritation


Celebrate the Small (and Big) Successes

  • No snoring – (perhaps the biggest success for your longsuffering bed partner!)
  • Fewer sleep interruptions
  • Fewer visits to the bathroom
  • Easier time waking up in the morning
  • Fewer or no headaches
  • No need to nap in the daytime

You may not realize it, but while you are achieving these smaller, more measurable successes, you are gaining even more long term  health benefits.

Your heart says “THANK YOU”. You are giving your heart a break from nights of surges in your heart rate as your body struggles to deliver more O2. Less wear and tear on your heart can help with hypertension issues and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Your life will change. Your renewed energy stores will allow you to accomplish more – more energy to keep up with your kids, garden, jog. You won’t be too tired to go out or fall asleep during your favorite Netflix movie binge.

People will notice. Perhaps the least measurable but most noticeable change will be your mood. Now that you aren’t tired all the time you will feel better, enjoy life and the people around you!

Demonstrate N30i mask


Take an active and positive part in your treatment

Widespread clinical trials show that treatment with a CPAP machine will improve quality of life, but also that improvement depends on consistent use.3 So take charge of your treatment and make sure you’re getting the most out of it!  Learn more about sleep apnea and the benefits of using CPAP, and familiarize yourself with consequences of untreated apnea. Learn and practice regular maintenance for your CPAP machine.

Begin treatment with a positive outlook and even if you experience hurdles, you will be able to overcome them with help from me and the rest of the team.

Want to learn more? Our newsletter will help you learn about sleep, lifestyle tips and treatment:

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Stay in touch with me, your respiratory therapist!

My colleagues and I are here to help you at Apnea Health. We are respiratory therapists trained in sleep. We have a wealth of experience to share with you.  If, for example, you are struggling with a mask or pressure, call us and we will make the necessary adjustments.  Don’t try to troubleshoot on your own.  Let us help!  Remember that when you come to Apnea Health for CPAP therapy, you’ll benefit from our Care for Life program.

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1. Atwood, Jr., MD, Charles. “Sleep and CPAP Adherence”. Published on the National Sleep Foundation’s website. Accessed August 14, 2018.

2. Andreea Antonescu-Turcu, MD and Sairam Parthasarathy, MD. “CPAP and Bi-level PAP Therapy: New and Established Roles”. Published in the medical journal Respiratory Care, June 22, 2011. Accessed on August 14, 2018.

3. Weaver, Terri E., et al. “Relationship Between Hours of CPAP Use and Achieving Normal Levels of Sleepiness and Daily Functioning”. Published in the medical journal Sleep, June 1, 2007. Accessed August 14, 2018.

You may have heard that CPAP masks are universally compatible across machines.

Yes, it’s true! You really can use any CPAP mask with any CPAP or BiPAP machine, with one exception.

It’s common to think you need a certain kind of mask to fit your machine – but why is that? There are a few different issues that arise and leave people confused on mask compatibility.

We’ll go through all the ways you might have found yourself thinking masks are not universal, and the one scenario where you will need different supplies than usual.

Here are different ways masks connections can be confusing:

  1. Elbows are part of the mask, but can get stuck in tubes.
  2. Short tubes are part of the mask, not the CPAP tubing.
  3. Oxygen Adapters work with all masks but not all tubing.
  4. There is one special exception.
  5. Conclusion

1. Elbows are part of the mask, but can get stuck in tubes.

Elbow connectors are the L-shaped connector for full-face mask designs. They often have easy release options that leave part of the mask inside the tube, so it’s easy to think a new mask won’t fit. What is really happening is that part of the mask is still in the tube. If you forget part of the mask in an old tube, or if you get a new mask but there’s still a piece of the old one in the tube, you’ll think your mask and tube don’t connect!

If you lose or break the elbow, you’ll likely need to replace the whole mask. It’s also best to replace your mask and tubing regularly so that they don’t stretch out. Insurance providers cover CPAP tubes and mask frames every 3 months to ensure they have good seals.

tube connection


2. Short tubes are part of the mask, not the CPAP tubing.

Nasal pillow or nasal cushion masks usually have their own short tube, which is often mistaken as a replacement for the main CPAP tube. However, you’ll find they are much too short and don’t fit onto your CPAP. You’ll need to remove the short tube before inserting a new mask into your tubing.

If you like having the flexible short tube attachment, check out the brand new Evora from Fisher and Paykel

man in bed wearing the evora nasal mask


3. Oxygen Adapters work with all masks but not all tubing.

Oxygen adapters attach between the mask and tube, and allow folks to bleed oxygen into their CPAP therapy. They are universally compatible with all masks and standard tubing. However, if you have heated tubing, there may be restrictions on what style adapter you need.

ResMed’s AirSense has a special version of their heated tube that has an oxygen port built right in, as well as:

  • Auto-titration: Smart algorithm automatically adjusts your therapy pressure as your needs change
  • EPR: Expiratory Pressure Relief reduces pressure upon exhale, avoiding high pressure mask leaks
  • Humidification: 7 levels of humidity and a heated tube ensures you don’t dry out.

MaskFitsAllMachines


4. There is one special exception.

ResMed’s AirMini is the one exception that doesn’t use the universal connections that all other CPAP machines have. Because of its unique HumidX system for its nasal mask options, the travel CPAP has special connectors and tubing.

Forgoing the universal connections that other CPAPs have allows the AirMini to be as small as it is (just 0.66 lb!), as well as include the following features:

  • Powerful and quiet: Auto-titrating machine adjusts to your pressure needs as you sleep
  • Control in the palm of your hand: Smartphone app gives you complete control over your CPAP therapy
  • Mask included with machine: Choose from the AirFit P10, AirFit N20, AirFit F20, or AirFit F30

AirMini_Info


Conclusion

That covers the different connections for masks and CPAPs. If you’re having trouble connecting a CPAP mask and tube, make sure you have all parts of the mask. If you have a new mask (with its included connector) and it’s not connecting to your tubing, it may be that your tube is too old or loose.

Another common issue is that old elbows or parts of a connector remain in the tube when you try to disconnect the mask, making it impossible to put a new style mask into the tube.

If you’re having trouble connecting your mask and tube, check out the video we made to help you!

While wearing a CPAP mask can dramatically change your life for the better, it can come with some unfortunate side effects to your skin: redness, rashes, sores and chafing are unsightly or even painful problems that sometimes go with the territory.

CPAP users, particularly those new to the treatment, can fall victim to air leaks and rubbing that cause skin irritation. Even seasoned veterans will tell you it can happen from time to time, especially to those with more sensitive skin.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid these irritations and get on with enjoying better sleep.

Read on for some helpful tips…


Size matters.

A mask that’s too big or too small can cause skin irritations.

If your mask is too tight, it’ll leave indents on your face. If it’s too loose, it can leak air – this makes your mask shift around and rub against your skin, sometimes causing pretty painful sores. Adjusting the tightness of the straps on your CPAP mask at home can help customize your fit.

If strap adjustment isn’t enough to fix the problem, you could try a new mask with a different fit. There are masks out there with minimalist designs and reduced contact points; good ones include the AirFit P10, the Swift Fx, the Brevida, the DreamWear, the AirFit N30i and the AirFit P30i.

If you need the coverage of a full face mask but your skin is sensitive, a good option is the Airtouch F20 – instead of silicone, it has an UltraSoft memory foam cushion that’s uniquely comfortable.

It can be tough to tell just which mask you need when you’re new at it – but Apnea Health will help you figure that out.

sizing


Don’t go to sleep with an oily face.

Your face can get pretty oily in the course of a day.

Be sure to wash your face with soap and water before putting on your mask, because clean skin will prevent your cushion from sliding around. A mask that moves too much while you sleep will leave red chafing marks on your cheeks. If you can, it’s ideal to do your washing an hour before bed, to avoid transferring products to your mask.

washing face


Avoid heavy moisturizing at bedtime.

If you need to moisturize your face, Aeromate moisturizer and mask sealer helps alleviate chafing. Its non-petroleum, aloe-based formula soothes sensitive skin while providing a seal around the mask.

If it’s the bridge of your nose that tends to get irritated, try putting a nasal pad under your mask. The Gecko Nasal Pad is a comfortable, soft strip that goes across the nose to reduce irritation and leaks.

aero mate

Shop Aeromate gel

gecko nose

Shop the Gecko nasal pad


Keep your equipment clean.

Cleaning your CPAP mask is important. It helps eliminate bacteria that can cause irritation or infection, and it’s actually easy to do – you can watch Jess’s video to learn best practices for CPAP cleaning.

You should avoid scented soaps, and never use alcohol, vinegar, bleach, or over-the-counter antibacterial agents for cleaning, because they’ll dry out your mask. Remember to think of the mask as delicate, like your skin, even if you’re a pretty tough person.

We recommend you clean your mask daily, and give your headgear a wash once a week.

We’ve put together useful cleaning kits to give your CPAP equipment the proper care:

cleaning kit grapefruit

Grapefruit Cleaning Kit

cleaning kit mint

Mint and Green Tea Cleaning Kit

If you want to be certain your mask is rid of bacteria, the Lumin is your answer. It uses UV light to kill 99.9% of all bacteria, viruses, and other agents that may cause skin infections.

Whichever means you decide to use, remember that maintenance and cleaning are critical ways to avoid skin issues.


Time for a new mask?

If your mask used to fit perfectly, but lately not so much, there’s a good chance it’s time for a replacement. Mask materials wear with time, and just like your toothbrush, it’s important to replace them regularly.

Clear signs that it’s time for a new mask include cracking, dryness or stiffness on the mask or the cushion. Any yellow discolouration on the cushion also means it’s time to go. Generally, if you notice a lot of leaking that wasn’t there when the mask was new, you should probably look into replacement.

Did you know that most insurers cover 1-2 replacement masks a year? Apnea Health recommends replacing your mask, or at a minimum replacing the cushion, at least once every 9-12 months.

If you start to see signs of wear and tear, it’s important you get a new mask right away.

homme qui dort avec son nouveau masque nasal de Resmed


Shop CPAP Masks

P10 nasal pillow mask from side view

AirFit P10

The Brevida Nasal Pillows Mask from Fisher & Paykel

Brevida

Nasal CPAP Mask

AirFit N20

Airfit F20 for him and her

AirFit F20


If you’re having trouble with skin irritation or mask leaks, Apnea Health is here to help!

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Ever wake up feeling like there’s a tornado in your stomach?

Or when you use your CPAP, do you notice…

  • Stomachache or bloating
  • Burping or flatulence
  • Heartburn or acid reflux

These are all symptoms of aerophagia, or air eating, which is a common CPAP side effect. Aerophagia occurs when air flows into your stomach and intestines instead of your airways during the night. As air builds up, it can cause discomfort in your belly and bowels.


What causes this bloating and how can I fix it?

  1. Pressure is set too high: Your CPAP pressure could be set too high or higher than you need. The extra air you get has no place to go, but to your esophagus and then belly.
  2. Pressure is set too low: You may have your pressure set too low where it’s too inadequate to resolve your apnea episodes. As you’re trying to obtain more air in your lungs, you end up quickly gulping air which is then forced into your esophagus.
  3. Exhalation problems: You might be having trouble exhaling over the consistent air pressure CPAP delivers. This is particularly hard for individuals using mid- to high-CPAP pressures. When you inhale high pressures, it might be simple, but exhaling might cause panic, anxiety and a feeling of choking or suffocation. When this occurs, you might fall out of your natural breathing rhythm and start hyperventilating. This may lead to quickly gulping or sucking in the air, forcing it into your esophagus instead of your lungs.

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How to fix your aerophagia when pressure too high or low:

  1. Enable advanced comfort settings in your device.

    If you’re having trouble exhaling but your pressure level is already matching your needs, then we can enable settings such as EPR, which stands for Expiratory Pressure Relief. EPR is a standard feature on ResMed’s Airsense 10 AutoSet that reduces the pressure of your therapy only when you exhale. The AirSense has other advanced comfort settings, such as:

    • Auto-titration: Smart algorithm automatically adjusts your therapy pressure as your needs change
    • Humidification: 8 levels of humidity and an optional heated tube ensures you don’t dry out
    • AutoRamp: Starts your sleep therapy at a low pressure to ensure you fall asleep more comfortably

    woman adjusts settings on her CPAP machine
    The Respironics Dreamstation also has a new revolutionary exhalation release feature called P-FLEX technology, auto-titration, auto-amp and 5 humidification.

    P-Flex technology: is a unique comfort feature that applies exhalation pressure relief in proportion to pressure. P-Flex is designed to enhance comfort by reducing exhalation pressure. But unlike other versions of Flex algorithm, P-Flex applies increased amounts of pressure relief as therapy pressure increases. The higher the pressure, the greater the pressure support. This results in a more comfortable and effective therapy experience.

    dreamstation 2

    The SleepStyle also has a special advanced comfort setting: 
    SensAwake: With this function, the device quickly decreases the pressure to the lowest and most comfortable level when you wake up during the night. It thus facilitates the return to sleep and allows effective resumption of treatment. You are less likely to wake up in a panic with high pressure and open your mouth which would cause aerophagia. We did a clinical experiment. We offered a trial of the Sleep Style to some of our patients who suffered from aerophagia. In all cases, the patients saw great improvement and even disappearance of their aerophagia problem. It seems that the intelligent Sleep Style algorithm is ideal for patients afflicted with this problem.

    sleepstyle 2

  2. Use a CPAP that adjusts your pressure throughout the night.

    If the pressure levels aren’t tailored to your needs, then your chance of swallowing air accidentally in the night increases. The best solution is upgrading to an auto CPAP. An auto CPAP will automatically titrate, or adjust, the pressure, so you always get the correct pressure night after night. It can even adjust to your sleeping position or how tired you are that evening.

    These machines are programmed with a sophisticated algorithm that monitors your breathing in order to determine the most comfortable and effective settings for you at any given moment. The constant adjustments of the auto CPAP are essential to ensure that you continue to get the most out of your CPAP therapy.

    Resmed Auto CPAP AirSense S10 for him

    Learn about the Airsense


Other possible causes are nasal congestion and mouth breathing, both of which have the same solution.

Nasal congestion

You could have nasal congestion from allergies, a cold or the flu. When you have a stuffy nose, you might not be able to get the right CPAP air pressure you require, therefore you gulp in the air by mouth, leading it down into your esophagus.

Mouth Breather

You might be a mouth breather and wear a traditional nasal mask. When your mouth opens up while you’re sleeping, the CPAP machine may not be able to deliver the air to your lungs, but rather the air escapes through your mouth. Your apnea episodes aren’t being corrected, therefore in your unconscious panic; you could suddenly experience a choking sensation and gulp the air in rapidly, forcing it into your esophagus.

Woman lying in bed, rubbing her blocked sinuses caused by allergies


How to fix your aerophagia for congestion or mouth breathing?

It’s very simple: make sure you are using the right mask!

If you have a nasal cushion mask but your mouth opens during the night, you can end up gulping air as the therapy escapes out your mouth. Similarly, nasal pillow masks with blocked exhale ports can have the same problem, forcing your mouth open during the night. A full face mask, such as ResMed’s AirFit F30i, will enable you to breathe out through your mouth instead of swallowing the air. The AirFit F30i features:

  • Under-the-nose full face cushion: Reduces red marks and irritation on the nasal bridge
  • QuietAir technology: Makes for a quieter experience for you and your bed partner
  • Quick-release elbow and universal headgear: Makes taking your mask on and off easier than ever
right mask

Shop AirFit F30i


Shop other options of Full Face Masks

Airfit F20 for him and her

Airfit F20 for him and her

airift f10 cpap mask for men and women

Shop Airift F10

Mirage Quattro full face CPAP mask from ResMed

Shop Mirage Quattro

Dreamwear Full Face mask from Respironics

Shop Dreamwear


Takeaway

The most common culprit is your exhaled air not escaping the CPAP system when you breathe out. Pressure problems (both too high and too low), sinus blockage, and mask issues can all lead to aerophagia.

Figuring out what’s causing your aerophagia is essential to resolve it. Extreme air swallowing can be very uncomfortable, particularly if your CPAP settings aren’t optimized. Be sure to talk with your respiratory therapist at Apnée Santé about this problem to help determine the causes and solutions unique to you.

You can also call your local clinic or fill out the form below and we will follow up with you:

Why should you replace your CPAP supplies regularly?

  • Necessary for hygiene: ensures the safety of your sleep therapy and minimizes chance of getting sick.
  • Decreases common problems: mask leaks, build up of calcium in water chamber, growth of bacteria in both water chamber and tube.
  • Protect your CPAP and you: filters, filters, filters! We can’t overstate the importance of filters.
  • Filters for the CPAP: if you don’t want to wind up with a noisy CPAP after a couple or years, you must change your filters regularly. The filters protect the CPAP’s motor!
  • Filters for you: protects you from dust and particles in the air.

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Did you know?

Did you know that your insurance covers 1-2 masks per year and all CPAP maintenance items, such as filters, tube and water tubs?

Need help with your insurance? Contact us for assistance!

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Easy-to-choose replacement kits

 

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Shop Airsense 10 replacement kit

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Shop S9 Series replacement kit

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Shop Dreamstation replacement kit

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Shop SleepStyle replacement kit


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