I decided to add this post after seeing keywords in my site stats that are related to the post title. Now, I’ve been using Resmed full-face masks for several years so what I’ve experienced may be different than what someone with different gear is going through.
But just seeing the keywords means someone has suffered through similar problems that I’ve dealt with.
I’ll start with what I think is the most significant problem, and that occurs when someone wakes up to find the CPAP mask is laying off to the side but there’s no memory of removing the mask. In my case it usually meant the mask was down on the floor, which created another problem because my previous Ultra Mirage Full Face Mask was prone to breaking at specific points after repeated landings.
This is often a sign that one is not sleeping properly. It may be caused by a leak that is preventing the CPAP treatment from working. It may also be a sign of discomfort caused by incorrect strap adjustment, mask size, or possibly the position that one sleeps in. In my case, I was doing what I had been doing before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea – I was partially awake and removing the mask (enough to disrupt my sleep but not enough to remember it).
There are only two parts to my mask that seem to actually wear out and require replacing. Everything else is more resistant to aging and wear. The gel mask seal and the headgear are the two parts that can significantly affect the effectiveness of my CPAP treatment.
The part that makes the greatest difference in my treatment is the gel mask seal. In fact, because it wears out gradually sometimes I’m not even aware that it’s no longer working effectively. As it ages it will absorb facial oils (how much depends on how often it’s cleaned) but it also just seems to lose its firmness. After a while the seal can begin to bow inward, instead of maintaining an air cushion around the seal. Eventually, this will introduce leaks into the mask system.
My previous and current masks use elastic straps (commonly referred to as “headgear”), which lose their elasticity over time. This seems to eventually require too much tension to keep the mask in position, as the straps age. Replacing the straps can actually make a noticeable difference.