Do you have air leaking from your CPAP mask or your mouth?

CPAP mask user at night with his wife ResMed UK blog

August 26th 2016

Why CPAP-mask leak can be a problem.

  • Noise of air escaping from the mask can disturb your sleep and that of your partner.
  • Air escaping from the mask into the eyes can cause irritation, resulting in them becoming bloodshot swollen and dry.
  • The effectiveness of your therapy can be compromised if the leak is excessive, this is because the effective pressure to maintain your open airway will be lost as the air escapes around the mask or out through the mouth. This can cause breakthrough symptoms during the day such as increased tiredness and snoring at night.

Mask leak – Air leaks from the mask when the mask is not correctly fitted.

Insufficient cleaning could cause problems with your mask

  • This may be due to the headgear being adjusted incorrectly i.e. over-tightened or too loose.
  • Also frequent changes of position during the night may cause the mask to shift position and cause leakage.
  • Insufficient cleaning of the cushion of the mask retains facial oils on the cushion and as the pressure rises will cause the mask to lift off the face.
  • The age of the mask can affect its ability to seal well as over time the cushion may wear and the headgear lose its full elasticity.

Solving your mask leak

  • Check that your mask harness is not over-tightened. If this is too tight the air is unable to inflate the thin outer membrane of the mask. The temptation is always to tighten the mask when a leak occurs, however, this can be the cause of the problem.
  • Facial contours can change when we lie down and muscles can relax once we are asleep, so it is always best to adjust the mask while you are in your sleeping position.
  • The inflation of the dual wall of the cushion ensures that the mask remains in contact with the face, maintaining an effective seal as you move during the night.
  • Excessive mask leak and an inability to achieve a good seal is often the first clue that your cushion needs replacing. ResMed masks should last approximately one year if cared for correctly.
  • To get the optimal life from your mask, be sure to wash your face each night before putting on your mask and avoid using face creams just before bedtime. Wipe your cushion each morning with a warm damp flannel to remove any facial oils. At least once a week wash your mask thoroughly, using original washing up liquid and avoid using anything with perfumes, moisturisers, antibacterial agents, bleaches, etc. Rinse with fresh water and always dry your mask and cushion out of direct sunlight and not on a radiator.

Excessive mask leak and an inability to achieve a good seal is often the first clue that your cushion needs replacing.

Air leak from the mouth

  • Caused if nasal problems such as blocked sinuses, colds, allergies, deviated septum prevent adequate ventilation through the nose warranting sporadic or continuous mouth breathing. Patients who have had throat surgery for snoring in the past may also experience mouth breathing due to the changes in the anatomy of that area.
  • Mouth breathing often causes an excessive dry mouth and sore throat.

Problem solving your mask leak from the mouth

  • If you experience mouth breathing a full face mask will certainly work for you and would allow you the option of breathing through your nose and/or mouth.
  • If your mouth is excessively dry in the morning and your throat is frequently sore this is an indication that you are probably breathing through your mouth.
  • Patients who find it difficult to use a full face mask may find some benefit from use of a chin strap which helps to hold the lower jaw to remain closed, but a full face mask is the preferred option.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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