CPAP Equipment: CPAP Humidification: Cold Humidifiers
Cold Humidifier Overview
A cold humidifier is also known as a "passover" humidifier.
In this type of humidifier, there is no heating element to warm the water. The airflow from the CPAP machine "passes over" the water before continuing on through the main hose to your mask. As the air "passes over" the cold water, moisture is picked up by the air stream and is then carried along the hose to your mask and airway. This addition to your basic equipment will reduce irritation in your nasal passages.
Cold Humidifiers FAQs
- What is a passover humidifier?
- A passover humidifier uses a chamber of room temperature water with the CPAP to add moisture to the airflow and reduce irritation to the nasal passages.
Air flows from the CPAP through a short hose to the humidifier chamber where the air "passes over" the water to pick up whatever moisture it can. The air then flows into the six foot hose to the mask.
Passover humidifiers may provide sufficient moisture with CPAPs set at lower-end pressures. However, if the moisture is not sufficient there is no way to increase the amount of moisture added. Furthermore, because the water is room temperature, in cold climates the water temperature will drop causing the CPAP air to become very cold and the amount of moisture will be reduced
- What is humidification?
- Humidification adds moisture to the CPAP air, reducing irritation to the nasal passages caused by the increased airflow.
CPAP air is an irritant - to one degree or another - to everyone. In some cases the irritation dries out the nasal passages and may cause bleeding. It may also cause swelling, excess mucous, congestion or sneezing. The irritation may create a very fertile ground for infections to begin. The irritation may be cumulative, building up over time. The only way to reduce the irritation is to add moisture.
Humidification is therefore a critical part of CPAP Therapy.
- What are the benefits of using a humidifier?
- Many PAP users experience nasal congestion and dryness of the nose and throat during treatment. This can be especially problematic for new users who are adapting to treatment. Humidification adds moisture to the air helping to reduce the symptoms of dryness and congestion.
Nasal congestion also leads to mouth breathing, which perpetuates the problem of dryness. If this is an issue for you, try a heated humidifier.
- What is an integrated humidifier?
- An integrated humidifier is used with a specific CPAP and fits directly onto the machine. This eliminates the need for a second hose, and with most heated humidifiers the need for a second power cord.
The advantages of an integrated humidifier are that it works very closely with the CPAP machine and is a compact unit that uses fewer parts.
A disadvantage is that if it is being used as a passover humidifier it will produce less moisture because the surface area is typically smaller. An integrated humidifier will function only with the CPAP for which it was designed.
You can see if your machine has an integrated humidifier option by reviewing our Compare Charts.
An example of an integrated humidifier is the PR System One Heated Humidifier as seen below attached to a machine in the PR System One line.
- What is a built in humidifier?
- A "built in" humidifier is designed as a part of the CPAP machine and cannot be removed or separated from the CPAP machine. As with an integrted humidifier, it eliminates the need for a second hose or power cord. The water chamber can be removed for cleaning or replacement purposes.
The advantage of a "built in" humidifier is it makes for a more compact unit with fewer parts. This design also helps to ensure therapy effectiveness by including the heated humidifier with the CPAP machine thereby providing comfort to the CPAP user.
A disadvantage is that a built in humidifier may produce less moisture if used as passover because the surface area is typically smaller. Also, since the humidifier is "built in" to the machine, detaching it is not an option. This can be an issue for frequent travelers. Lastly, if the machine or humidifier stops working, the entire unit must be sent in for repair or replacement, not just the component that failed.
An example of a machine with a built in humidifier is the ICON Auto CPAP Machine with Built In Heated Humidifier and SensAwake as seen below.
- What is a stand alone humidifier?
- A stand alone humidifier is a component that will work with any CPAP and does not attach directly to the machine. It has its own power cord and a short hose is used to connect it to the CPAP. Generally it will sit next to the CPAP machine and is slightly larger than an integrated humidifier.
The advantage of a stand alone humidifier is the fact that it may be used with any CPAP machine.
The main disadvantages are that the size is often larger than either a "built in" or integrated humidifier and that a short hose is needed to connect it to the CPAP machine.
An example of a stand alone humidifier is the Fisher & Paykel HC150 Heated Humidifier as seen below.
- What are the CPAP, BiPAP and Sleep Apnea related CPT or billing codes?
- A7034 is Nasal Mask
- A7034 is Nasal Pillow Mask
- A7030 is Full Face Mask
- A7027 is Hybrid Mask
- A7044 is Oral Interface Mask (Oracle)
- A7035 is Headgear for Mask - Any Style
- A7036 is Chinstrap - Any Style
- A7032 is Replacement Nasal Mask Cushion
- A7033 is Replacement Nasal pillows
- A7031 is Replacement Full Face Mask Cushion
- A7028 is Replacement Hybrid Mask Cushion
- A7029 is Replacement Hybrid Mask Nasal Pillow
- A7046 is Replacement Humidifier Chamber
- A7037 is Tubing / Hose - Long & Short Tubes
- A4604 is Heated Tubing
- A7038 is Disposable Filter (White / Paper)
- A7039 is Washable Filter (Gross Particle / Foam/ Black)
- E0601 NU is CPAP Purchase
- E0601 NU is APAP Purchase
- E0470 NU is BiPAP Purchase
- E0470 NU is BiPAP Auto Purchase
- E0471 NU is BiPAP ST Purchase
- E0471 NU is BiPAP Auto SV Purchase
- E0562 NU is Heated CPAP Humidifier
- E0561 NU is Passover or Cool CPAP Humidifier
- E0601 RR is CPAP Rental
- E0601 NU is APAP Rental
- E0470 RR is BiPAP Rental
- E0470 RR is BiPAP Auto Rental
- E0471 RR is BiPAP ST Rental
- E0471 RR is BiPAP Auto SV Rental
E1399 is Miscellaneous and is used for other CPAP items.
- How do I care for my humidifier?
- To care for your humidifier simply empty and clean the water tank each morning. Only distilled water should be used in the humidifier to avoid mineral deposit build up.
- Why do I need to use distilled water with in my humidifier chamber?
- Use distilled water to help keep the humidifier chamber clean and mineral deposit free. Tap water should not be used as it will leave hard white mineral deposits in the chamber as the water evaporates, or it may lead to mold growth. Cases of lung disease have been connected to using contaminated well water in a CPAP humidifier.* Source
If distilled water is not available where you live, use bottled water. It will be important to clean the chamber each morning, do not leave standing water the chamber between uses.
- What is rainout?
- Rainout is the accumulation of water in a CPAP tube due to warm moist air cooling and condensating on its way from your CPAP machine to your CPAP mask.
The image below from Fisher & Paykel explains how rainout is formed. Warm moist air leaves the heated humidifier and travels down the CPAP tube. As the air travels down the tube the room temperature cools the tube and thereby cools the air traveling down the tube. As the air cools, it releases its moisture and condensation occurs, otherwise known as rainout.
Solutions to rainout include:
- Raising the temperature of your bedroom.
- Keep your CPAP machine at the same level as your bed.
- Insulating your tubing with a hose cover like Snugglehose.
- Reduce the tempurature setting on your heated humidifier.
- Purchasing a CPAP machine with a rainout reduction comfort feature.
- Some machine systems offer a compatible heated CPAP hose which maintains the temperature from the machine all the way to mask reducing the occurrence of rainout. The list of available heated hoses can be found here: Hoses With Heating Coils.
- If your machines uses a standard hose, consider the ComfortLine Heated Tubing Kit.
- What is a hose cover?
- A hose cover is placed over the hose in order to insulate the hose and to make the hose more comfortable. The simplest and most cost effective way to insulate a CPAP hose is to wrap it in an insulating fabric. This enables the hose to remain flexible and adds little weight.
Companies such as Snugglehose provide a cost effective tubing insulation available in several colors and styles. Not only will the covers reduce or eliminate rainout, they also provide a more personal and less institutionalized appearance. An example of a Snugglehose is shown below.
- Are prescriptions required for mask, machine and/or humidifier purchases?
- Yes. Federal law requires we have a valid prescription on file before we ship your mask, machine and/or humidifier.
We provide many easy ways to get your prescription:
- We can request your prescription for you! When you checkout, just let us know you would like us to request your prescription, or you can log into your account to have us request your prescription.
- Fax your prescription to our Toll Free fax number: 866.353.2727, or our international fax number: 713.541.7370
- Email your prescription to email@example.com
- Upload your prescription in your account, under the prescriptions section
- What does a humidifier prescription need to say?
- A humidifier prescription must contain all of the following information:
- One of the following words or phrases: "CPAP Humidifier", "Humidifier", "HH", "CPAP Supplies", "CPAP Mask", "CPAP", "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure", "APAP", "AutoPAP", "AutoSet", "Auto CPAP", "Auto Adjusting CPAP", "Self Adjusting CPAP", "BiPAP", "BiLevel", "VPAP", "BiPAP Auto", "BiPAP ST", "Synchrony ST", "VPAP ST"
- Your physician's contact information
- Your physician's signature
- The patient's full name
- Does this product contain BPA?
- Yes, all CPAP masks and CPAP humidifier chambers either contain BPA or their manufacturer has not released a statement calling their products BPA free. Here is a statement released by Respironics:
Government of Canada Takes Action on Another Chemical of Concern: Bisphenol A
April 25th 2008
To Whom It May Concern
This document represents Respironics' position regarding the use of Bisphenol A in Respironics Sleep and Home Respiratory Devices. On April 18, 2008, the Government of Canada, banned the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in polycarbonate baby bottles, claiming that the exposure to BPA on newborns and infants up to 18 months of age, could potentially present a health risk to this patient group when the polycarbonate baby bottles are exposed to high temperatures.
At this time, we are able to provide the following information to our customer: NONE of our Sleep and Home Respiratory products which are either breathable or skin contacting are intended for use with newborns or infants under 18 months of age. Therefore, Respironics is in compliance with Health Canada's position for exposure for the identified at risk patient population.
Although Health Canada's restriction for BPA does not include products used for ages above 18 months at this time, Respironics is evaluating its product portfolio and will take the appropriate actions to determine and mitigate any potential risk from use of its products or potential exposure to BPA. It should be noted that NOT all polycarbonate resins contain BPA. In response to the direction provided by Health Canada's device licensing division, Respironics will be evaluating all of our Class II and III medical devices to determine if the resins used in the manufacturer of its products contain BPA.
Further, none of our products or accessories using polycarbonate are labeled for exposure.
In closing it is Respironics position that our products do not pots any increased risk of exposure to BPA for our users and thus our products remain safe for use.
If you have any further question regarding this topic, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 724-387-4120.
Zita Yurko Director, Regulatory Affairs Sleep and Home Respiratory Division Respironics, Inc.
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Did You Know, Cold Humidifiers
- Passover humidifiers do not heat the water. The air will blow over the room temperature water to provide the moisture to the CPAP air.
- Heated humidifiers are recommended because heat carries more moisture than cold.
- Distilled water is recommended for use in your humidifier as it has less minerals and may be more sanitary.
- CPAP users who use humidification are more likely to stick with their therapy.
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