Thursday, July 15, 2010

Aliens, Darth Vader, and Hannibal Lecter

What do these three have in common? They either had a mask (Darth Vader and Hannibal) or had young that attached to a human host's face (Aliens). What does this have to do with sleep? Everything, as these are the three most common comparisons to CPAP masks.

There are dozens of masks available for CPAP, several manufactures, but only a handful of styles. In my practice, I use mainly Resmed and Fisher Paykel masks. A pillows style fits into the nostrils like thick oxygen prongs, such as Resmed's Swift FX. This mask is the least bulky and does not block the vision while being worn. Nasal masks like Resmed's Activa fit over the nose. Because most of these have a T-piece that touches the forehead, vision can be blocked somewhat while the mask is on. Full-face masks cover the nose and mouth, such as Fisher Paykel's Forma. This style tends to be the bulkiest and can be difficult to get an air-tight seal.

All masks work with the same CPAP devices, meaning no special or extra equipment is necessary if a patient wants to change mask brands or styles. Mask choice depends on multiple factors, many of which are patient preference. Working with a knowledgeable person to find the most appropriate mask can help determine whether a patient uses CPAP enough to benefit.

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