Not all air leaks are created equal.
In the case of CPAP machines, there are leaks that are good and bad for you. These can be broken down into either “intentional” or “unintentional” leaks.
Intentional leaks are actually a part of CPAP therapy, but unintentional leaks can be very irritating. Device users should be wary of these types of leaks for the following reasons:
- It causes the nasal passages and airways to dry out
- If the air from the mask escapes into your eyes, irritation, redness, and swelling of the eyes can occur
- The noise from the leak, no matter how subtle, can prevent you from sleeping well, diminishing the overall effectiveness of CPAP therapy as a result
Intentional vs unintentional leaks
Intentional venting is a CPAP system design that expels the air you exhale while sleeping. Without this feature, your mask wouldn't filter out the carbon dioxide that you exhale, and your therapy would be ineffective.
Unintentional leaking, on the other hand, is the type sleep apnea patients must minimize at all cost. There are three ways your CPAP device may be unintentionally leaking:
- Seal leak. A CPAP device has a point of contact or seal point between itself and your face. A seal leak is often the result of a facial moisture that causes mask slippage, a mask that doesn't fit will, wear and tear, or too much moving around which can cause the seal to bend or crease.
- Mouth leak. Air can leak from the throat and out of the mouth if you breathe with your mouth open while sleeping with a nasal-only mask.
- Broken CPAP mask. The tubing may develop cracks at different places at some point and cause the pressurized air to leak.
How to prevent your CPAP device from leaking
If your CPAP device is leaking and it’s the unintentional kind you should be preventing, below are tried-and-tested ways to correct the situation.
One practical way to prevent a seal leak is to try the CPAP mask before buying. Insist on a professional fitting, ideally with the machine running. Ensure you get the correct size with the straps adjusted properly. Keep in mind that strap adjustment may have to be done periodically, as frequent use and washing may affect the elasticity, and even the length, of the straps.
Another way to stop seal leaks is by using mask liners. RemZzz CPAP Mask Liners act as a barrier between your face and CPAP mask and ensures facial oils and perspiration don’t break the “seal” necessary to prevent pressurized air from escaping. Mask liners also prevent red mask marks on your face, reduce irritation, and make wearing a CPAP mask more comfortable.
Pressurized air may be leaking through your mouth if you wake up in the morning with a dry mouth or tongue. Having a dry mouth isn’t just unpleasant, it can also lead to all sorts of problems because there’s not enough saliva in the mouth to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.
Oral problems that may arise include:
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
To address mouth leak, consider the following three options:
- Use a full-face CPAP mask covering both your mouth and nose
- Use a chinstrap so your mouth doesn’t fall open while sleeping
- Consider adjusting your CPAP's pressure settings with your doctor
Broken CPAP Masks
There’s simply no other way to go about it: Broken CPAP devices or accessories must be fixed or replaced immediately. Your mask should be replaced as soon as it starts to show signs of wear. Delaying will make the symptoms of sleep apnea even worse, which can pose harmful effects to your health.
Don't Let Air Leaks Stop You!
A seal leak has been shown to cause 45% of former CPAP users to quit. Don't give up just quite yet on this treatment. RemZzz CPAP Mask Liners could be the solution for you. Our mask liners are incredibly easy to use and will keep you comfortable while keeping your mask in place.
Call us today for any questions you may have.