CPAP Mask Seating Importance

Tracy R. Nasca

Many of the masks offered for CPAP users now have dual cushions. ResMed comes to mind with their Mirage line which includes Quattro, Activa LT, Micro and even their Swift and FX nasal pillow systems. EasyLife, ComfortFull and ComfortGel are just a few of Respironics dual cushion interfaces.

What’s the big deal about Dual wall cushions, why is it so important?

Dual wall cushions have gained popularity because they are more comfortable and they seal better. They are the latest and greatest in engineering innovation offered to us patients. I thank the manufacturers for their continuing efforts to develop and bring us creative and quality mask choices.

Maybe you own one of these masks provided to you by your local home health care dealer or maybe you heard the great patient feedback and purchased from the internet. Is your dual wall cushion mask working for you or are you one of those patients who spent a lot of money and is wondering what all the hype was about because it’s not working for you? Maybe you have a dual wall cushion mask but are not even aware of it.

Patients complain of leak and pressure point soreness on their face. They have spent a small fortune trying a variety of masks and frankly are just frustrated and ready to give up. When asked which masks they have tried and what their specific complaints are about each of them, they tick off a list of dual wall cushion masks. When asked if they were shown how to “seat” the mask. “No”, they say, “what does that mean?”

It’s another “NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THAT” conversation. It saddens me to know so many people have great masks that would work if they knew the proper fit, adjustment and seating techniques.

Here is what you should know:

  1. Dual wall cushions need to be inflated to seal properly to the face.
  2. Put your mask on your face with straps loose.
  3. Turn on your machine to full pressure.
  4. Lay down in your bed with your head on your pillow in your normal sleeping position.
  5. Then and only then, gently tighten the straps JUST UNTIL you get a good seal. With dual cushion masks, there should be no reason to over tighten the straps. In fact, one of the best features of dual wall cushion masks is that they seal well even when worn loose!

Once your mask is properly fitted for your sleeping position, you need to “seat” or inflate the cushion. Pull the mask straight out from your face about an inch or two to let the mask inflate, then gently lay it back down on your face. You may have to repeat this until it feels comfortable on your face, but you WILL KNOW by feel, when it has inflated and seals.

Smile, fall asleep and wake up refreshed several hours later!

It is also important to know that no mask is perfect or leak free. But taking the time to fit your mask to your face and seat it properly is important and a good start. When you change sleeping positions during the night, gravity takes over and you may experience mask leak. If you originally adjusted it for side sleeping and then you roll on your back, you’ll probably experience leak. It will have to be readjusted to eliminate that leak.

I wish I could tell you that there is a mask out there for you that will fit perfectly, never leak or hurt and that sleeping position doesn’t matter. Wouldn’t that be great? It’s just not so. But, knowing how to properly fit and adjust your mask can be one of the most important lessons you learn to help you become successful with your CPAP therapy! Wishing you great, restorative sleep!

The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Contact your physician or health care provider when you have health related questions. Never disregard or delay medical advice because of information you have obtained on this site.