Nasal masks are an integral part of CPAP therapy. Without CPAP therapy, many sufferers of sleep apnea simply live with the condition. However, the problem with sleep apnea is not about the lack of sleep at night or restlessness alone. Lack of sleep has long-term implications for sufferers, including the dangers of falling asleep while working or driving. Nasal masks convey positive air pressure as designated by caregivers and doctors. However, compliance with therapy remains a challenge for most users due to various reasons associated with the mask. These reasons include incorrect fit, dehydration of the sinuses, etc. Given below are a few problems associated with using nasal masks and ways to deal with them.
Getting used to nasal masks
If you find yourself just not being able to keep on the mask, you can try by wearing it for short periods of time when you are up and awake. Put it on after dinner when you sit down with a book or to watch television. Some users may also try wearing it in daytime just to get accustomed to the feel of it. Slowly, as you start wearing it more, you will get used to both, the mask and the air pressure.
Getting used to the air pressures
comparing kn94 with level three surgical masks works by pushing air directly into the airways. This can cause some discomfort initially and needs getting used to. You can either begin with low pressure and then move on to higher pressure levels gradually, finally arriving at the one prescribed to you. There are also nasal masks with a feature of auto adjusting the air pressure gradually so the user suffers lesser discomfort.
There are also devices with bi-level or two levels of air pressure that allow you higher pressure when you inhale and reduced, when you exhale.
For some users, nasal masks, particularly full face ones may induce feelings of claustrophobia. For this, again, the solution is that of getting introduced to the mask gradually. Some users may put it on their face without really strapping it into place fully. This can be practiced during the daytime, without even attaching the mask to the CPAP machine. After getting used to it for a while, then begin by strapping the mask without tightening it. Gradually move on to strapping it in place and attaching the hose to the CPAP machine. Finally, you can try switching on the CPAP machine, but in the daytime. If after all this effort you still feel your claustrophobia is not reduced, check with your healthcare provider about alternates like nasal pillow masks.
Relaxation to cope with mask-related anxieties
In general, relaxation techniques such as meditation and other gentle exercises that encourage facial muscles to relax, are also a big help in coping with most anxieties related to the use of nasal masks. If certain options, such as changing to nasal pillow style masks cannot be applicable in your particular case, you may need to consider changing the size of the mask or switching to other styles such as the gel cushion masks.