Humidifiers help add moisture to your home, particularly in dry climates and during the winter. This helps people breathe better while preventing throat or nasal irritation, which can cause nosebleeds.
Humidifiers are especially useful for people with respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea. CPAP humidifiers prevent dry air from passing through your machine and irritating your airways, making them a great solution for those undergoing CPAP therapy.
Additionally, these humidifiers will ensure you don’t wake up every morning feeling parched.
Here, we’ll explain the importance of having a CPAP humidifier and the different types you can choose from.
What is a CPAP Humidifier?
A CPAP humidifier uses a tank of water with a CPAP machine to add moisture to the air you're breathing through the CPAP circuit and mask. This provides additional comfort to your CPAP therapy by making the air smoother and easier to pass through your airways. A CPAP humidifier will help you avoid dry mouth, dry nose, nosebleeds, sinus headaches, chapped lips, and more.
Why choose a CPAP humidifier?
CPAP air may dry out your airways. Our noses act as natural humidifiers to make the air we inhale much smoother. Because air coming through a CPAP machine is entering our airways at a much faster rate than normal, our noses don’t have time to warm it up. This can be troublesome in drier climates or during the winter, resulting in narrowing airways and subsequently affecting CPAP therapy pressure requirements.
Types of CPAP Humidifiers
There are two types of CPAP humidifiers to consider: heated humidifier and passover humidifier. Some machines are only compatible with one or the other, so consult your manufacturer to choose the right one for you.
Heated Humidifier: These humidifiers use heat to warm the water and add moisture to the airstream. Most contemporary machines are heated humidifiers as you can control the temperature and, therefore, the level of moisture.This tends to provide more comfort for sleep apnea patients.
Beware of rainout -which occurs when condensation gathers on the outside walls of the tubing and delivers excess water to the mask - while using a heated humidifier. However, manufacturers have developed a few options to prevent rainout. For example, a heated hose keeps the temperature consistent from the water chamber, which prevents condensation from forming and significantly reduces the risk of rainout.
Passover humidifier: This humidifier’s name is derived from the way it functions; the air literally “passes over” the water to pick up moisture and deliver it to your mask. You don’t have control over the moisture level because the water, which is room temperature, doesn’t heat up. However, rainout isn’t a concern with a passover humidifier because the device isn’t heated.
Some CPAP machines already have built-in humidifiers, while other manufacturers have humidifiers specifically built for their CPAP machines. The advantage of having a standalone humidifier is you can remove it and use it with any CPAP machine, as long as it doesn’t already have a built-in humidifier.
No matter what type of CPAP humidifier you choose, use distilled water to keep the device’s chamber clean and free of mineral deposits, which may cause problems with your humidifier or CPAP machine.
CPAP Humidifier Examples
Many manufacturers make a variety of CPAP humidifiers that will suit your needs. Whether you want a standalone device that will fit more than one CPAP machine or an integrated humidifier from a trusted CPAP brand, you’re bound to find the device that’s right for you.
Fisher and Paykel’s HC150 Heated Humidifier is a good standalone device. It’s compatible with most CPAP machines and features an “ambient tracking” feature that adjusts to changes in room temperature to reduce rainout. This humidifier is small and lightweight, but still durable enough to provide maximum humidification to your CPAP machine.
ResMed offers a great integrated option with its HumidAire 2i Heated Humidifier. This device is compatible with seven ResMed CPAP machines, simple to attach, and there are no extra cords. The humidity is adjustable using a dial, making it easy to get the right amount to soothe your nasal passages.
The AirSense 10 CPAP Machine by ResMed has a built-in Humid Air Humidifier with nine different settings, making it an ideal all-in-one option. It comes with an optional ClimateLineAir-integrated heat tube that will maintain the temperature and prevent rainout. This CPAP humidifier even has an auto-climate control mode that will adjust the level of humidification with the temperature of the room.
Although you may not want to add more equipment to your CPAP setup, a CPAP humidifier is a highly recommended device that willhelp you sleep comfortably while preventing nasal dryness and irritation, no matter the season or climate.
With various options to choose from, you’ll be able to find a humidifier that’s both compatible with your CPAP machine and beneficial to your CPAP therapy. Figure out which one’s best for you and see for yourself.
Damon Wiseley is a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Pulmonary Function Technologist.