[SIPC_Content]Is it a nasal mask? Is it a nasal pillow? No!! It’s super mask!!
No matter how you categorize the Philips Respironics Dreamwear mask, it’s certainly unique. Respironics has thrown a number of novel design features which has turned CPAP mask design on its head (excuse the pun).
A real winner for some CPAP users. Not all its cracked up to be for others.
So, what comes in the bag of the DreamWear mask? For our purpose, we will be looking at the Medium FitPack option.
Everything comes neatly packed up in a sealed bag. In the bag includes:
- A fit guide and mask manual.
- Four different sized nasal cushions – small, medium, large, and medium-wide.
- A set of fabric mask frame wraps
- And the complete mask itself. Pre-fitted to the medium mask frame (or headgear, whatever) is the medium cushion, mask headgear/strap, elbow and quick-release hose connector.
My first impression when I pulled the DreamWear out was a resounding ¨and how the hell is this going to work then?!?¨.
I remember Respironics tried this under the nose ‘nasal cushion’ style with the OptiLife mask some years ago. Needless to say, it was a complete failure.
The DreamWear Nasal mask doesn´t look like the CPAP masks we’ve been accustomed to seeing.
Questions I immediately asked included:
- Where is the mask frame?
- The hose connects where? On top of the head?
- Why are there two air vents?
But, alas, CPAP mask design has come an incredibly long way in 5 years; and with an open mind I proceeded to follow the instructions and put it on.
First of all, you need to determine the correct size nasal cushion for your nose.
Respironics have included a little sizing guide for this. If you don’t have it, don’t despair. It can be printed off here: Respironics DreamWear Fitting Guide.
Simply center the fitting guide under your nose, and choose the smallest size that fits your nose (it will make sense once you get the fitpack, trust me).
The opening in the cushion should be directly under the nostrils when it is placed under your nose.
Putting it on
I was lucky that the way the mask came packaged, was the right size combination for me. So I proceeded to fit it as per the instructions.
On goes the nasal cushion, and I positioned the frame on my head (as the instructions said).
And I pulled the headgear strap over my head.
After adjusting the headgear strap, I was ready to go.
I´ll admit that it felt a little strange at first, but comfortable.
Also, plugging the hose onto the top of my head whilst sitting up seemed unusual. Especially with the hose wanting to drag the mask frame every which way.
However, when I laid down with it; I could see the benefit of having the hose connection atop my head. I could easily move from side to side without getting tangled. Brilliant I thought.
Then I turned on the CPAP machine.
And… Drum roll… It sealed!
Moving from side to side, I did find that the air started to escape as the mask was pushed around. By tightening the headgear strap tightly, it held the mask more securely to my nose, and prevented this from happening as much.
With the CPAP hose connected on top of my head, I could do a full 360 without getting tangled up in the hose. This is great!
Sleeping with it that night I found the following things:
- the mask does not feel as secure on the nose compared to traditional nasal masks and nasal pillow masks. It is more prone to leaking.
- the mask is prone to breaking the seal when shifting from side to side
- it’s rather comfortable to wear, and the soft silicone mask frame did not cause significant facial marks
- the 360 degree hose connection atop the head is great for restless sleepers
- the airflow through the silicone mask frame can be a bit noisy, due to the bone conduction of the airflow sound
Although it won’t be replacing the nasal pillow mask I find most comfortable to wear; the AirFit P10; it will actually help some CPAP users out that have had trouble in finding a suitable mask.
Namely, people in the following groups, that never thought they would be able to tolerate CPAP therapy (and had tried numerous masks as a result) have had success:
people who experience discomfort whilst using a nasal pillow mask including:
sore nose in the morning
irritation on the inner surface of the nose (nares)
- – people who have had allergic reactions to ‘over-the-nose’ CPAP masks including:
allergic reactions to other masks silicone material
- – people who feel claustrophobic using a traditional nasal mask, but cannot tolerate a nasal pillow mask
Although anecdotal, I have seen considerable improvements in treatment compliance for patients who have had the above issues and I recommended and fitted the Respironics DreamWear nasal mask for. However, just as many CPAP users have found this mask as providing an ineffective seal, and to be unstable during the night; despite the perceived advantages of the mask.
If you haven’t used this mask before, I recommend ordering the Fitpack first to suss out your sizing. Once you have that worked out, you can order the correct size next time
Taking the mask apart
You need to know how to take your mask apart for:
- changing parts over or replacing worn mask parts
- well… if a curious child decides to pull it apart
- if a puppy decides it looks like a fantastic chew toy
To pull the mask apart (disassemble):
- Undo the mask headgear velcro and slip it out of the slots in the headgear
- If you use the mask frame wraps (fabric sleeves), undo the velcro and remove them
- Remove the quick-release tubing connector from the mask (the bit that clicks onto the mask frame atop your head)
- Pull the elbow connector out of the silicone mask frame
- Disconnect the nose cushion by gripping either side of the arrows, and pulling apart
Assembly is simply the opposite steps.
- Align the arrows on the mask cushion and mask frame up. Press the mask frame and cushion together; they should click together.
The ‘male’ end on the mask frame and the ‘female’ end on the mask cushion should marry are both ‘D’ shaped with one flat edge and one rounded edge. They will only go together one way.
- 2. Push the elbow joint into the top of the mask frame. Feed the mask frame into the ‘groove’ of the elbow, starting from one side, then ‘pop’ the rest in.
- 3. Click the quick release back into the elbow joint.
- 4. If you use the fabric sleeves (I don’t like them personally) wrap them around the mask frame, making sure the seams are facing outwards.
- 5. Slide the headgear velcro tabs from the inside, through the slots on the mask. Fold them back onto the mask headgear.
The thinner of the two back straps should be on top, with the Respironics label readable the right way up when the mask is held up.
Cleaning the Mask
Now, this is also where I thought there would be some issues. With the mask frame design, you cannot physically clean the silicone inside of the mask frame as I normally would.
To wash it, I followed the following instructions:
- take the mask apart
- hand wash the mask with warm soapy water (dishwashing liquid and water)
- run the warm soapy water through the mask frame tubing
- rinse the components thoroughly, including running water through the mask frame
- put the components out to air dry indoors
The manual says that you can put it in the dishwasher – something that was once considered sacrilege. If you decide to do this (personally I prefer to hand wash my mask), ensure that you do not use the dry cycle as this can damage the silicone, or at least make it age faster.
One of the great things about this mask is that each part can be ordered separately; that way you can replace them as they wear out. It frustrates me how many people are told by CPAP salespeople that they need to buy a new mask; when often they can simply replace a part on their current mask to make it function like new again.
The spare parts you are most likely to need to include:
- Small nasal cushion – 1116740
- Medium nasal cushion – 1116741
- Large nasal cushion – 1116742
- Medium-wide nasal cushion – 1116743
- Headgear – 1116750
- Small frame – 1116745
- Medium frame – 1116746
- Large frame – 1116747
- Fabric wraps – 1116754
- Elbow – 1116748
- Quick Release Swivel (White Hose Connection that Connects to Elbow) – 1104931
Would I recommend it to friends and family?
I think the obvious answer is yes here. Especially for those who are having any of the issues that I have listed above. Even if you are looking for a new mask, and you are a restless sleeper who pulls the hose every which way during the night, it may be worthwhile trying. However, consider the relative stability of this mask. it may not be suitable. Worth a try, but may not be the be all and end all (at least not for everyone).
If you are looking at trying this mask, getting the correct frame size is vital. Most people will be OK with a medium-size frame; this comes standard in the fit packs. However, many women may benefit from trying the small frame first; and men with larger heads could try the large frame. If you are purchasing this mask from an online retailer, take advantage of the return policy that most offer if the first frame you try is not quite right.
I hope this review helps you in making a decision about the Respironics DreamWear Nasal Mask. If you feel like checking it out some more, you can do so at most online CPAP retailers, including those at Amazon.com