Common CPAP complaint: My CPAP mask leaks

If you’ve had a hard time getting your CPAP mask to seal and stay sealed each night, you’re not alone. Mask leak is a common challenge for people on CPAP therapy. In fact, 45% of former CPAP users say they quit partly because it was “hard to keep a mask seal.” 1

CPAP mask leak cause #1: A poor fit

There are lots of reasons why a CPAP mask might not fit right once you take it home. Even if your medical equipment provider or a respiratory therapist fits you for a mask, make sure to:

  • Try it on in your respiratory therapist’s office before leaving. That way they can help you make adjustments without overtightening the straps, or give you a different size if your fitting was far off.
  • Try it on yourself before you leave the office. Sometimes, people unknowingly put their masks on upside down or pull it onto their face in the wrong direction, both of which can cause significant leak. Try it on in the office before you leave so your respiratory therapist can instruct you on the proper steps will help you avoid these issues. You can also find videos online for most masks showing you how to put them on. Check out our playlist of mask fitting videos on YouTube.
  • Lie down. Many people try on their mask standing or sitting upright, but notice that it fits differently when they’re in bed, especially if they toss side to side. Make sure to lie down with it on before you bring it home to ensure the fit will be correct once you get into bed.

CPAP mask leak cause #2: Your mask needs cleaning

Sometimes, a CPAP mask was fitting well, but started leaking days or weeks later. In this case, it’s possible that the mask just needs to be cleaned more diligently:

  • Each morning: Wash your mask cushion quickly with baby shampoo or other very mild soap to remove dirt and facial oils that cause leaks
  • Once a week: Take apart and wash the entire mask in mild soap and water

Select your mask and check the support section to find videos on daily and weekly cleaning for your mask.

In the event of COVID-19 diagnosis, read the American Thoracic Society’s tips on daily mask cleaning. Their informational guide includes additional information and resources on COVID-19 diagnosis and PAP therapy usage. Please refer to your specific ResMed User Guide for specific step-by-step instructions on cleaning your device and mask.

CPAP mask leak cause #3: Mouth leak

Mouth leak is common among people who breath through their mouth at night and wear a nasal mask or nasal pillows mask, or people using bilevel CPAP machines, which deliver two different alternating pressures. One solution for mouth leak is wearing a chin strap, but many people find them too tight or they don’t want another strap on their face. Usually the best solution is a full face mask – and there are models today that are much lighter, quieter and easier to see over than they used to be!

There is a CPAP mask for you

If you’re struggling to find the right mask after trying these tips, remember that there is a mask for everyone. There are different styles, materials and sizes – the key is talking with your doctor or medical equipment provider about your specific needs.

You can also check out our collection of nasal and full face masks to find one that works for you.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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