I’ve been sleeping with a CPAP device for several years and during the entire time I’ve always used a full-face mask. It’s worked alright but I still have several bad nights every now and then along with several moderate sleep nights. I know what it’s like to have great sleep so I’ve been aware for a while that perhaps it was time to try something new.
Several months ago my wife got her first CPAP machine and mask. She’s been using a ResMed Quattro FX Full-Face mask and over a few months I noticed her sleep stats were very good. In fact, they were consistently very good. However, during the same time I was struggling with my ResMed Mirage Quattro. It was not consistent. Sometimes I managed to have very good sleep a few nights in a row and then another night I might experience high leaks and sleep so bad I didn’t have the energy to do anything more than watch TV.
I decided to go ahead and get a Quattro FX and it turned out to be a very good decision for me. When I bought the mask I was sized for a medium, instead of a large as I have for previous masks. The first few nights were a bit of a hit and miss but now my sleep is fairly consistent. I’m even getting a combined AHI below three and four on a regular basis.
Overall, the mask is more comfortable than the Mirage Quattro, though this is entirely dependent on one’s facial characteristics and ears. Yes, ears. If the base of my ears were a quarter of an inch higher I probably couldn’t use the mask. It fits fine when I put it on at night but sometimes in the morning I’ll realize that it slid down slightly and rubbed against my ears.
I’m still using Lansinoh with the new mask, which still helps with the mask seal.
This mask is a vast improvement. I’ve slept so well that I’m no longer reviewing every stat and trying to find various tweaks to help me sleep better. I still check my stats each morning but I don’t bother to log them in a spreadsheet every day.
Updated 06/20/2012: From the beginning I’ve been replacing the mask seal and headgear very frequently. Sometimes I had to change them almost once a month (which adds up to about $85 for both replacements). No more. I’m going to wear out the mask seals as long as I possibly can. The headgear may be a bigger problem but I’m going to stretch it to the max.
Updated 07/18/2013: I stopped using a full-face mask and switched to an Aloha Nasal Pillow. It required some adjustment but it is much more effective, leaks have become rare problems, and the replacement parts are considerably less expensive.
Last week I ordered a Pad A Cheek Mask Liner to use with my ResMed Mirage Quattro mask. It’s a fabric liner for CPAP masks that’s made by a third-party. Ideally, it will reduce leaks around a mask seal while also increasing comfort. At $15 it’s a reasonable price. Unlike the RemZZZs mask liners, which are intended to only be used for one night, this liner is much more durable and can even be washed by hand.
The new liner was waiting for me when I returned from a work trip. This morning I unpacked the liner and gave it a try.
Unfortunately, it’s not going to work for me. Despite reading forum posts in which some users with facial hair reported that it improved their seals, I found that it did the opposite. In fact, as soon as I turned on my CPAP I immediately noticed bad leaks around my beard. These leaks were worse than using the mask without the liner.
For individuals without facial hair this seal may indeed reduce leaks and improve comfort. I may suggest this type of liner to my wife for use with her ResMed Quattro FX mask. She’s been satisfied with the RemZZZs liners but the Pad A Cheek may prove more comfortable and much more durable.
So far the most effective method I’ve found for establishing a better seal around my beard is to use Lansinoh HPA Brand Lanolin on the silicone mask seal.
Updated 11/11/2011: I also purchased one for my wife, which is made for a Resmed Quatrro FX. She’s had a chance to use it a few nights and so far she loves it. For her it’s much more comfortable than the RemZZZs, which moved around too much. I checked her machine stats. The leak rate was higher than I’ve seen for her, but her AHI was still very good and she said that she slept fine and didn’t notice any leaks.
In my efforts to improve the effectiveness of my CPAP treatment I started searching the cpaptalk.com forums for new tips. I came across one that seemed a bit odd, but does seem to be effective. In one post, and also in several others, many individuals recommended using Lansinoh Lanolin to create a more effective seal between one’s face and the silicone mask seal.
Since my obstructive sleep apnea is severe I must take my CPAP with me any time that I travel. Otherwise, I’ll feel terrible the next morning. Unfortunately, the device came with a soft case that doesn’t provide the device, and more importantly the mask and hose, any protection from being damaged.
This week I decided to purchase a hard shell case that would offer more protection. I didn’t want to have to keep asking others to be careful about putting their luggage on top of the CPAP case. It wouldn’t take much to break the mask or hose (though the device itself would probably fine).
A couple of weeks ago I started tracking how I felt after a night of sleep using a calendar. I’ve since graduated to maintaining an Excel spreadsheet that logs this information using a scale of zero to five (zero = severe fatigue, five = well rested). A couple of days ago I started checking the morning’s effectiveness stats and recording that in the same spreadsheet.
Updated 09/15/2011: I’ve reversed my opinion of the liners since I wrote this post. I began to have less effective rest after a few days. Last night I removed the liner and ended up sleeping well despite only having about five hours of rest. It’s still possible it was a fluke but in the end I’m not sure these really add much. I can’t say with certainty whether or not they improve or inhibit rest but for the cost and uncertainty I’m ruling that they just don’t make much of a difference for me. I still have 28 more liners left so I may try them again. If my opinion changes I will update this note.
Updated 10/25/2011: I’ve tried them a few more times since my last update and I still haven’t seen that they help me. However, my wife tried one (that wasn’t even fitted for her mask) one night and thought that it made a big difference with her medium ResMed Quattro FX mask). I’m going a different route. I’ve ordered a Pad-a-Cheek Mask Liner. I’ll add a new post after it arrives and I’ve had a chance to use it a few nights.
After recent spell of a few nights of bad sleep I started looking into anything that might help prevent mask leaks. Fortunately, I managed to make a few changes that let me sleep well without any new CPAP equipment. Yet, I had already ordered some mask liners after reading various product reviews and a few forum posts.
Last week I purchased a set of RemZzzs Padd Full Face CPAP Mask Liners from CPAP.com for $24.95 (before shipping). Note that you can purchase these from other suppliers but it’s important to ensure that they’ll fit the mask and mask size that you use. CPAP.com has a chart on the mask liner page that will match up different masks with the appropriate liner sizes. In my case, since I use a Resmed Quattro Full Face Mask (Large) the chart listed the “Large A” mask liners as my preferred size.
I’ve been using OS X for several years now. I started with Tiger (older versions if you count college lab computers) and I’ve followed through the various upgrades up to Snow Leopard. I’ll probably upgrade to Lion when it’s available.
I try to learn as much as I can (and remember) about the various systems that I use. However, much of what I learn is from going “down the rabbit hole” in the sense that the majority of my knowledge is based on what my goals were and then exploring a little more than necessary.
For quite a while I’ve been dealing with significant irritation on the back of my neck, which is caused by the straps from my CPAP mask. I have the velcro straps set to overlap properly but it seems that somehow the edges where the velcro is at still manages to loosen up enough to rub my neck red. It’s very irritating and leaves my neck feeling raw for part of the morning.
While shopping for some CPAP accessories I came across the SnuggleStrap CPAP Mask Strap Covers. The description wasn’t specific about whether they’d work on the back part of the straps but I found a comment where someone had purchased them for the same reason and they reported that it worked for them.
I went ahead and ordered one set from CPAP.com. When they arrived I placed them onto the back end of the straps. I’ve used them two nights in a row so far and I haven’t experienced that kind of irritation since. I think this product has solved that problem for me.
I’ve been using a ResMed Mirage Quattro Full Face Mask for over a year and half. I’ve had very few problems with this mask compared to the Ultra Mirage that I previously used.
Updated 08/08/2011: I’ve been using these oddly named but very helpful covers for about two months and my neck hasn’t been sore since.
Probably like most CPAP therapy patients I tend to forget to maintain my gear on a regular basis. The CPAP itself doesn’t require much – just occasional cleaning of the water reservoir. However, the mask and associated parts wear out every now and then and need to be replaced.
I use a full-face mask, which is strapped to my face with elastic “headgear”. Over time it will slowly stretch and eventually it won’t fit as well as it used to. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this problem and it’s a gradual one so I tend to forget how much of a difference new headgear makes.
I finally ordered a new set of straps from CPAP.com and it has made a huge difference. The old strap had stretched so much that the Velcro had started scratching the back of my neck late at night and sometimes leaving a mark (and an itchy neck).
So, if you find your CPAP doesn’t seem to be working as well keep in mind that it might just be an issue with the headgear.