The Benefits of Using a CPAP Humidifier
Using a CPAP machine can be a highly effective way to control your obstructive sleep apnea. But sometimes, having a CPAP machine blow a steady flow of pressurized air into your breathing passages all night can cause other issues. Dry air can cause CPAP users to experience dry mouth, dry or runny noses, chapped lips, and even nosebleeds.
However, by using a humidifier with your CPAP machine, you can completely eliminate these side effects. A more comfortable CPAP experience is closer than you might expect.
What Do CPAP Humidifiers Do?
When you breathe naturally, your nose actually acts as a humidifier. As air goes through your nose, it is warmed up to your internal body temperature so that it is more comfortable and doesn’t damage or irritate your upper airways. However, air from a CPAP machine enters your airways faster than normal breathing, meaning that your nose can’t warm it naturally. The dry, cool air increases the risk of irritation.
CPAP humidifiers directly counteract these issues. There are two main ways that CPAP humidifiers work, which will vary based on the manufacturer. The first uses a hot plate that is located beneath the water chamber. The hot plate heats the water to release moisture in the air, which is then sent through your CPAP tube to the mask. Alternatively, air may simply pass over room-temperature water in the water chamber to pick up moisture and deliver the air at a lower pressure.
Essentially, a humidifier helps make up for your nose’s inability to warm and add moisture to air that is being delivered by a CPAP machine. This makes treatment more comfortable, and can even help you sleep better!
Many CPAP humidifiers use multiple settings so you can have full control of the moisture in your CPAP air. This includes controls for humidity levels and water temperature. Ideally, the air should be comfortable, but not so humid that excess water condensation forms in the tube. This phenomenon, known as rainout, can actually cause water to splash on your face if too much water collects inside the tube.
In addition to the humidifier itself, you can further enhance the effectiveness of your CPAP treatment by using heated tubing. Some humidifier controls also come with separate options for adjusting the temperature of the tube.
A heated tube can help keep excess condensation from forming, as well as resolve issues where the air still feels dry even after increasing the humidity level of the humidifier.
This can be especially helpful during the winter. Cold room temperature will result in the air coming to the mask also being cold, particularly if your humidifier doesn’t have a heating component. Heated tubing will warm up the air (or help it stay warm if you are using a heated humidifier), ensuring you don’t get a sore throat from constant exposure to cold, pressurized air.
Using heated tubing in conjunction with a CPAP humidifier is the best option for ensuring comfortable airflow that doesn’t result in nasal congestion, sore throat, or other uncomfortable side effects. And with multiple settings available on most devices, you can adjust as needed until you find the setting that is most comfortable for you.
Caring for a CPAP Humidifier
As with other parts of a CPAP machine, regular care is vital for ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your CPAP humidifier. First, you should only use distilled water to fill the humidifier water chamber. This helps reduce residue buildup that could potentially damage the tank.
The water chamber should be cleaned daily. As with other CPAP components, your daily cleaning can be performed using warm water and mild soap. Once per week, you should also disinfect the water chamber with a water/vinegar solution (one part vinegar to three parts water). Some water chambers can also be cleaned in the dishwasher once per week, but you should check the manufacturer’s care instructions to ensure this is safe for your component. Always rinse the water chamber after washing to remove soap residue.
After you’re done washing the water chamber, let it dry completely before refilling it with distilled water. Generally speaking, the water chamber should be replaced every six months, or if it is has any cracks or discoloration.
You can also extend the life of the humidifier’s heating element (when present) by periodically wiping it clean with a damp cloth and letting it air dry. Only do this after the heating element has fully cooled. If the heating element appears damaged or is no longer working, it should be replaced.
Heated tubing can be cared for the same way as standard tubing. Rinse it inside and out with a mix of warm water and mild soap, then rinse it with clean water. Hang it with both ends facing down so that any remaining water inside the tubing will drain out while it air dries.
Get a Quality CPAP Humidifier With No Insurance Medical Supplies
Using a CPAP humidifier as part of your sleep apnea therapy can make your treatment much more comfortable. This will help improve your own compliance with your treatment program, allowing you to get the quality sleep you need without negative side effects.
At No Insurance Medical Supplies, we offer CPAP machines with built-in humidifiers like the ResMed AirSense S10, as well as add-on humidifiers and replacement humidifier water chambers for a wide range of CPAP products. Best of all, these products are all offered at significant discounts off of MSRP, helping you save money on this helpful feature.