Solving CPAP Mask Problems: Getting the Right Fit on a CPAP Mask

Get the Right Fit of CPAP Mask

A CPAP mask is the most important piece of CPAP equipment you’ll use, and also the trickiest to use correctly. Many doctors and sleep therapists who see thousands of patients will tell you that the number one CPAP therapy complaint is mask fit. Your machine is only one part of CPAP therapy—your mask is more important as it’s what you’ll be wearing on your face every single night. Comfort is very important with the biggest issue being properly fitting the mask to your face shape. The mask should feel comfortable and secure when you’re sitting upright and when reclining in a sleeping position. It is important to test the mask while sitting upright and lying down and at various pressures in order to ensure a good fit without leaks. Additionally, try shifting in ways you would normally move during sleep—side to side and on your stomach- to ensure the mask remains in place, adjusting the headgear and checking for leaks.

Steps On Getting the Right Fit on a CPAP Mask:

· If it is the first time you’re fitting a CPAP mask, do so during the daylight hours and before you become tired. You’ll need to re-adjust the mask a few times before it fits properly and you grow accustomed to it.

· Ensure that all straps are as loose as possible.

· Hold the mask up to your nose and connect the headgear to the proper locations. It helps to do this step in front of a mirror.

· Make sure the CPAP mask is properly on the nose bridge using any adjustment straps to adjust its location. Gently pull for a secure fit. Make sure the mask is snug but not overly tight. A common problem is over-tightening so be sure the mask is just secure enough to create a proper seal.

· If the mask is too tight, the silicone cushion that creates the seal can “fold over” on itself, giving air places to escape and causing leaks.

· If you have long hair, hold it up in a ponytail while putting on the mask. Once secure, let your hair down over the back headgear.

· Finally, turn on the CPAP machine to make sure there are no leaks. If so, it’s best to start over. The time spent getting the right fit will provide a more comfortable, overall CPAP experience.

My CPAP Mask is Leaking:

If your CPAP mask is leaking, there are several steps you can take to solve the problem. Remember it is important for the mask to be snug but not tight. Firstly, readjust the headgear and make sure to place the cushion properly. If your CPAP mask headgear has a chinstrap band, check to make sure it’s not too tight as it might pull the mask downward. If your CPAP mask has nasal pillows, rotate the nose cushions or try a different size to help secure the fit.

It is difficult to get familiar with wearing a CPAP mask every night. If you find one that works best for you and fits and adjusts properly, the benefit will be a great night’s sleep. There are many varieties of CPAP masks and accessories that’ll meet your needs—not everyone sleeps the same way. If you lie on your stomach or if you toss and turn, there’s a CPAP mask that will work for you. If you’re uncomfortable with a CPAP mask that covers your entire face, you may prefer a nose pillow CPAP mask that has minimal headgear and seals inside the nostrils. Take the time to consult with a knowledgeable source and experiment with CPAP masks and accessories to find the one that works best for you.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…

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  • Rosemary Howe

    I have been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea but as yet have been unable to find a mask that fits.

    I have a blocked nose during the night and need an under the nose full face mask. I cannot have an above the nose mask as my nose has been broken and such masks are painful to wear if anywhere near the bridge of my nose.

    I have tried many masks including the Phillips under the nose full face with no success. Massive air leakage. I have tried the ResMed F30 under the nose full face with no success. Pinches my nose and also air leakage. I have tried the ResMed F30i under the nose full face with the hose on top of my head. The hose is too long for my head and cannot be adjusted to ensure a fit under the nose. Also the hose over my head pulls my hair.

    I am a side sleep so this reduces options also.

    This is a total nightmare for me. The local professional provider/retailer of masks referred by my medical specialist has been awful to me, no measurements taken and testing in the clinic. They told me, after taking my money, they were not prepared to continue with me.

    • Kathy Littlejohn

      I wish they could find a proper solution for people like us.
      I have deviated septum on right nostril & bone spur in left nostril.
      Mouth breather.
      I’ve tried everything.
      Then after using the Dream Station by Philips Resperonics I find out has been recalled.
      Finally got new 1 after waiting 10 months.
      My sleep apena went up while on this machine.
      Went from. 84 a nite to 77 a hour.
      So frustrating, I have a very small face & mouth Im beginning to wonder if a child’s mask would work better.
      As you I can not wear full face cause of my nose.
      And under nose over mouth irritates my nose.
      I wish the inspire implant was out linger cause that can put a end to these machines but am very leary of it.
      I hope you we both can find relief.
      This has been a 5.5 year nitemare

      • Chris Vasta

        Hi Kathy, we know having sleep apnea can be frustrating at times. We at The CPAP Shop would be glad to help find a solution that works best for you. Please call us at 866-414-9700.


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