CPAP Nasal Pillows: Discussing Important Details

Obstructive sleep apnea is becoming more and more common. This condition includes symptoms such as loud snoring and lack of air which can be troublesome for the sufferer but for the partner as well. But thanks to the invention of CPAP therapy, this condition can be significantly improved. Besides the standard CPAP machines, you can also choose another option in the form of CPAP nasal pillow.

cpap machine

Source: Sound Sleep Health

What Are Nasal Pillows for Cpap?

CPAP nasal pillows are a popular type of masks used by patients who are looking for a lightweight and user-friendly CPAP device. Except for being lighter, CPAP nasal pillows are more convenient to use as they administer the air pressure through two nasal prongs that rest and seal in both nostrils. The plastic inserts that go into the nose look like headphone earbuds with small cushions in order to relieve any pain you might feel.

cpap therapy for sleep apnea

Source: Sleep Services of Maryland

Benefits of Nasal Pillows Masks

  • Dealing with the standard types of CPAP masks might be difficult for claustrophobic people. And the new CPAP nasal pillow mask is an excellent choice for them, as they won’t need to tolerate the otherwise large masks across the face.
  •  These masks might also be helpful for men who have a lot of facial hair like a beard or large moustaches. They might find it difficult, if not impossible, to have a good seal with the standard versions of CPAP masks, especially at the nose and mouth area. In this situation, air leaks are a common thing, so tightly cinching the mask would is necessary. This can be extremely uncomfortable. Thanks to the nasal pillow mask, the CPAP pressure can be applied directly and only on the nostrils, allowing a good seal and no chances of air leak.
  • Another reason why people love these masks so much is that they don’t leave any marks on the face.

How to Use CPAP Nasal Pillows?

Before using it for the first time, getting a proper fit will require a little trial and error with your equipment at home. It is recommended to do this during the day in the bedroom by laying down in the position you prefer to sleep in. While sitting upright, hold the headgear with one hand and the nasal pillow with the other. Once set, place the nasal pillow mask against the base of your nose and pull the headgear over your head. Now, the left and right headgear should fit over the top of your head while the back strap should rest low on the back of your head.


Source: CNET

An important thing to know about these masks is that a good fit is not necessarily a tight fit. This means that the nasal pillow should feel comfortable. In other words, this mask should rest comfortably against the nostrils without causing any pressure at all. In case you feel that the mask is pushing too hard against your nose, this means that the headgear is too tight. On the other hand, if there is a space between the nasal pillow and your nose, then this means that the headgear is too loose. Fortunately, this can be adjust by releasing the Velcro on both sides of the backstrap at the same time.

If the mask is hanging far below your nose or is pulling up on your nose, you can also adjust the right and left headgear. In order to do that, you just need to pull the loose end through the buckle that is placed on the top of your head. Once done, turn your device on and lay down. When in this position, check for leaks around the mask. Make sure the hose doesn’t catch on some part of the bed as a trapped hose might pull on the mask and cause a leak.

Nasal Masks & the Risk of Infections

While being the most effective way to treat sleep apnea, CPAP masks, in general, can be prone to mould, mildew and fungus.

Possibility of Bacteria Growth

CPAP machines with all of their parts come sterilized and in their own packages. This means that when you receive it, the whole package is free from any harmful bacteria that can cause an upper respiratory infection. Now, once the mask is put in use, your bacteria will remain in the mask and its tubes. Now, if you are the only one who uses the mask, this won’t be that much of a problem. But if someone else uses the mask, then the risk of obtaining harmful bacteria or virus is huge.


Source: CPAP Victoria

Possibility of Mold Growth

Except for bacteria, these machines might be prone to mould growth. These machines include a heated tubing for moist and warm air that helps decrease the incidence of a dry nose or mouth. So, this warm and humid environment is perfect for the growth of mould, yeast and fungal. This can lead to lung and airway irritations that can additionally lead to the development of bronchitis, pneumonia and pneumonitis. Luckily, this can be prevented with regular and proper cleaning.