Manufactured by Philips Respironics.
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A heated humidifier uses heat to warm the water to add moisture to the airstream. The heat is adjustable for more or less moisture. The water chamber for a heated humidifier is much smaller than a passover humidifier.
In our considerable experience of specializing in CPAP equipment we have found that patients who use a heated humidifier have a much higher rate of effectiveness to their CPAP therapy.
There are three types of heated humidifiers:
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
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.
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.
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.
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 can cool the tube and therefore cool 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:
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.