This is more than a mask review. You might simply look at this mask and think it unassuming, like I did before I wore it. It looks like all the other masks, but its performance sets it apart.
It still seems like a dream to me. Once upon a time, over two decades ago, I was diagnosed with profoundly severe sleep apnea. Presented with the medical device and equipment to treat this sleep disorder I had never even heard of, I was shocked and horrified. I would have to sleep every night, for the rest of my life, hooked up to a machine. Wearing a mask strapped to my face would assure my airway would be kept open so that I could breathe, and oxygen could enter my lungs. “For the rest of my life” seemed daunting at my age of 35.
A CPAP failure my first year, I was facing death. A second opinion by a new sleep doctor introduced me to a machine called BiLevel. His team also discovered that the mask I was failing on, was simply the wrong size. Armed with the right equipment, I was finally able to sleep, breathe and live.
Before I get to the Zest Q 5 star review, it is important to understand, from the patient perspective, the real life challenges we face. Over the past twenty years, medical devices and masks have greatly changed. They are more patient friendly as the engineers created solutions for the real challenges those of us with sleep apnea deal with. Finding the best mask for each patient use is still the number one challenge in CPAP success. Too many patients are still simply handed a mask and sent on their way to fend for themselves. Most, like me, fail simply because their mask choice, fit or adjustment is just not quite right. The CPAP abandonment rate is still an alarming 50%-60%. It’s a shame because there is a best mask out there for each of us. How do we find it?
Every persons facial features and psychological barriers are different, therein lies the challenge. I call it, sizing up the face. One must look at the face in its entirety to know which mask style and size will be the best choice. We must consider are length of the nose from nose bridge to base, width of nose base and nose bridge, surface area of upper lip (the skin between the base of your nose and your top lip), distance between eyes and overall circumference of the head. We must also consider the contour of the face in general - is the face flat in certain areas and rounded in others? All of these factors sum up the individual needs to finding the best mask that is comfortable and leak free. You shouldn’t choose a mask by how IT looks, you choose a mask considering how YOU look and how it fits on YOUR face.
The larger the mask surface, the more potential there is for leak. Zest Q frame is small. Leak is commonly resolved by tightening the straps. In truth, the RIGHT mask for a patients face should never cause pain nor discomfort. The right mask should be worn relatively loose and still be leak free. Yet the uninformed patient will needlessly over tighten straps to stop the leak and subsequent noise. Discomfort is the number one deal breaker. Over tightening causes pressure point soreness, bruised cheek bones, chaffed skin and cuts on the nose bridge. Zest Q FlexiFoam cushion assures comfort.
In addition to mask fit, another challenge is noise. All masks have exhalation ports that are vital to release the flow of CO2. These clusters of tiny holes are positioned to diffuse that excess air. The higher the machine pressure, the louder that noise will be. Some mask ports actually make an obnoxious whistling noise. Not only are many patients bothered by this distraction, so is the bed partner. The air does not simply trickle out, it often blasts a harsh stream. My husband told me it felt like he was being hit by the needle nose jet stream spray of a garden hose. A noisy and windy mask can send bed partners fleeing to another bedroom to find peace. Zest Q Advanced diffuser provides quiet and diminished air flow escape.
It can be hard to find a mask that meets all of the challenges of fit, comfort and noise. I found a mask that does just that. Most product reviews simply list mask features and show a picture of the product. I offer that, but without an honest dialogue of the true challenges we patients face, day in and day out, a product review might otherwise be meaningless. The Zest Q deserved, in my opinion, to be thoroughly discussed because again, it looks like any other interface.
I am not often impressed with masks. But the newly released Zest Q by Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rocked my boat because it addressed ALL of the common fit and noise issues. At my bilevel inhalation pressure of 20, this mask was the quietest I have ever experienced; in fact, it was silent which is unheard of!
I give Zest Q FIVE STARS for ease of use, seal ability, comfort, quiet and diffusion of air flow.
The following information, in Italics, was provided by Fisher & Paykel at my request, to outline the Zest Q mask features and benefits. My comments follow each.
1. Advanced Air Diffuser
Quiet usage: The refined Air Diffuser design ensures minimal noise and efficient exhaust dispersal. Use with the cover for extra quiet or without, for a maintenance-free option.
This refined diffuser must be why the exhaust is simply silent. Not only was the noise eliminated completely, it also diffused the air flow so that there was no blast of air that would disturb my sleep nor that of a bed partner.
2. Easy-Clip Silicone Seal with VTS™
Effortless performance: The Easy-Clip Silicone Seal allows one-step connection or removal for quick and effortless cleaning. The Variable Thickness Silicone (VTS) provides an ultra soft fit for improved sealing and comfort.
5 star rating for ease of use
3. FlexiFoam™ Cushion
Auto-contouring cushion: The FlexiFoam Cushion provides greater comfort with the unique design of the soft, light and supportive foam.
5 star rating for the foam cushion which lends itself to provide the utmost in comfort because it is so light weight and soft. The mask frame and cushion, even in the size standard I trialed is quite small. This is an important feature for the patient like me who prefers “less on the face”. The smaller the mask, the less potential one has for pressure point soreness and leak.
4. FlexiFit™ Technology
Auto-contouring fit: Foam Cushion FlexiFit Technology automatically adjusts to a wide range of nasal and facial contours with simple one-step fitting.
5 star rating. This is one feature you must use to believe. FlexiFit technology allows the foam cushion to fit our varying facial contours creating comfort and an unbelievable seal. Whatever the shape of your face, rounded or flat, it simply contours to fit. This is the feature that allows the mask to be worn incredibly loose and still seal.
5. Glider™ Strap
Anti-leak system: The sliding Glider Strap provides freedom of movement while maintaining a seal. Mask force remains equal when the head rotates from side to side, minimizing leak.
Another 5 star rating for ease of use. The glider strap has been well received in other F&P masks to allow patient adjustment during the night for sleeping position changes or other need for readjusting the mask in the dark during sleep. Remarkably, I got such a good fit and seal “out of the box” I did not have to use this feature – but it’s there if you need it.
6. Stretchgear™ Headgear
Deluxe mask suspension system: A comfortable and breathable elastic headgear, specially designed to maintain a firm seal.
5 star rating for ease of use. Comfortable and light weight headgear which fit my small size head. Most one size fits most headgear is too large for me.
7. Glider Clip/Hidden Strap Release
One-step usage: Easy one-step removal of headgear with Glider Clip or Hidden Strap Release. Enables reassembly without having to make fitting adjustments.
Zest Q came fully assembled and is currently available in size Standard with Zest Q Petite and Zest Q Plus to follow soon. For ease of use, for comfort, seal and QUIET, you will want to give Zest Q a try. Your bed partner will thank you. And here’s a little inside scoop for the ladies, a Lady Zest Q is coming soon…. The Lady Zest Q will have all the same 5 star attributes and pink just for ladies!
Another 5 star rating for ease of use