Philips Respironics FitLife Mask

Fitlife Mask ReviewBeing an adventurous sort of person, I decided that I’d rent a Philips Respironics FitLife mask from my CPAP equipment provider and test it out for a few days to see how I liked it.  The Philips FitLife has always intrigued me because it really is a full face CPAP mask covering almost the entire surface of your face.  Somewhere in my thought process I just assumed it would be an easier overall experience, but honestly, I had pretty mixed results.

I’m going to start this review by talking about some of the things I really didn’t like about this mask.

Issues With The Fitlife Mask

Probably the most noticeable thing for me was that it was quite confronting when I put it on and tried to go to sleep for the first time.  I suppose if you’re a SCUBA diver or something like that you might not find it so odd, but I really found it very noticeable right from the moment I first put the mask on that it was like I was wearing some kind of helmet.  I was almost hyper-aware of the mask and that’s not the most conducive feeling when you’re trying to drift off to sleep.  I wore the mask for about four nights and while that closed in feeling subsided a bit, it was still something I was very conscious of every time I tried to go to sleep.

Another issue for me was that I really struggled to get the mask to stay put on my face while I slept.  The wider surface area means that the edges come into contact more with your pillow and over the course of the night, I kept finding the mask riding up my face and literally covering my mouth with the silicone cushion of the edge – in fact, on my third night with it, I woke up to find it sitting above my top lip and my whole mouth not covered.  Needless to say, my wife said I snored a fair bit that night.  I kept trying to tighten the mask to keep it in place, but then I found the headgear digging into the back of my skull and hurting.

Then there were the little annoyances with the mask:

  • The ventilation made a bunch of noise and on the first night when I wasn’t used to it, it actually kept me awake longer than I needed to be;
  • No matter what I tried, every time I put the mask on it fogged up which added to the disconcerting nature of being enclosed
  • The locking clasps are a bit tough to put on in the dark although they do come off easily enough
  • The spot where your chin and lower lip meet is where the mask sits and I found the silicone irritated my skin a bit
  • Strangely, on two of the four nights, I turned my CPAP machine off and removed the mask at 1:30am while asleep

It wasn’t all bad, the Respironics FitLife mask does have some good qualities as well.  For example, the headgear is very well made and structurally a good design.  I know I said it dug into my head a bit, but I was having to make it very tight.  The FitLife was also exceptionally well behaved when it came to leaks, each night the leaks were under 35L/m which is a very acceptable.

Most importantly, I didn’t wake up tired and had good energy during the day on the days that I used the FitLife.

I really like the concept of this mask and I have to say that deep down I wanted to like this mask, but I won’t be buying one and replacing my Fisher & Paykel Simplus that’s for sure.  I think the idea of the mask is great and I’m certain that over time I could overcome the odd discomfort from being so enclosed, but the problems with this mask just outweigh the good.  I’d really like to see Philips Respironics have another crack at this type of mask because I don’t think they are that far away from being onto a winner and if they do produce one, I’d be really looking forward to testing it out.

Sean Kaye
 

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