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CPAP Machine Heated Humidifier: Reasons, Indications, and Uses

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humidifier chamber of cpap machine

You might be familiar with humidifiers in the home, and you may even use one yourself. Household humidifiers help to add moisture to the air. In some parts of the U.S., they are essential wintertime survival tools.

Not only do they help the air inside your home feel warmer, but they can also be used to:

  • Prevent Dry Skin
  • Reduce Ordinary Snoring
  • Diminish the Spread of Airborne Viruses
  • Minimize Damage to Wood From Dry Air
  • Reduce Environmental Static Electricity and Its Potential Problems

Using a CPAP machine equipped with a heated humidifier offers many benefits to users as well. One of the most important benefits is a greater degree of compliance. People who use a CPAP heated humidifier are more likely to continue with their CPAP therapy to enjoy the essential benefits it provides.

What is a CPAP Machine Heated Humidifier?

A CPAP heated humidifier typically consists of a detachable portion of the CPAP machine. It has a tank, or chamber, that you can fill with distilled water. Underneath this chamber, you’ll find a hot plate, which heats the water and humidifies a portion of it.

When the pressurized room air passes through this, the moisture is sent through your airway through the nose, throat, and lungs, resulting in moisturized air delivered through your respiratory system.

People using CPAP machines have their choice of a CPAP humidifier that is heated or non-heated. Heated humidifiers account for the majority of humidifiers on the market today.

The way humidifiers connect to your CPAP machine determines its usefulness for many CPAP wearers. There are essentially three types of connections:

  1. Built-in humidifiers: These devices are built into the machine and ready to go from day one. Examples include the Fisher & Paykel ICON Auto CPAP Machine with Built-In Heated Humidifier and ThermoSmart Heated Hose and the Apex Medical iCH II Auto CPAP Machine with Built-In Heated Humidifier.
  2. Integrated humidifiers: Ideally suited for people who do not want to use their humidifiers year-round or wish to travel without the added bulk of a humidifier on occasion. With these devices, you can choose to leave the humidifier portion at home. Examples include the DeVilbiss IntelliPAP Integrated Heated Humidifier and the Philips Respironics DreamStation Heated Humidifier.
  3. External humidifiers: Universal standalone humidifiers that connect to any CPAP machine. These are a great choice for older machines without a built-in or integrated humidifier. An example includes the Fisher & Paykel HC150 Heated Humidifier.

Any one of these humidifier choices, though, offers direct benefits over using a CPAP machine without humidity.

Reasons and Indications for a CPAP Machine Heated Humidifier

You may want to ask if it is necessary to use a heated humidifier with your CPAP machine. There is no hard and fast rule that says it is an essential addon for CPAP use.

It does, however, make the use of a CPAP device more comfortable for many sleep apnea patients. And that added level of comfort may matter more than you may realize, particularly in terms of your compliance with your continuous positive airway pressure therapy.

The reason heated humidification for CPAP machines came about is simple. Some patients receiving CPAP therapy complained of one or more of the following problems when using their CPAP machines:

  1. Scratchy, dry throat
  2. Dry nasal passages
  3. Congestion
  4. Nasal stuffiness
  5. Nosebleeds
  6. Dry mouth

In many cases, these symptoms were the result of breathing in dry, pressurized air through their CPAP machine throughout the night while they were sleeping.

In some instances, the symptoms were related to common health problems that cause these symptoms like:

  • Allergies
  • Sinus infections
  • Colds

Dry air can worsen these conditions by irritating the nasal passages further, causing them to become inflamed and swell. By using a heated humidifier you deliver, moist, warm air into your nasal passages promoting relief to your congestion.

It’s not just the dryness of the air that can cause problems though. Most people prefer to sleep in cooler rooms. When the airflow through the mask is cool in addition to being dry, it can exacerbate the discomfort and lead to other problems, like sore throats, dry mouths, and more.

That is why heated humidification is the preferred choice of many CPAP wearers. Not only does it add moisture to the air inside the CPAP mask, but it also warms the temperature, allowing wearers to experience the benefits of CPAP therapy without some of the common causes of discomfort mask some wearers complain about.

There is also an unintended benefit of using heated humidification with your CPAP machine. It helps to reduce a condition referred to as “rainout.” Rainout refers to the sudden splash of water that happens when condensation builds up inside the mask and drips into the nose or mouth of mask wearers. Heated tubing helps to maintain a steady temperature inside the mask greatly reducing the likelihood of rainout occurring.

That said, people who live in very humid environments, may not feel the need to use a heated humidifier as much as their counterparts in drier parts of the country. In some parts of the country, people may be able to forgo a heated humidifier add-on during the summer months, but use it for the rest of the year.

Uses for a CPAP Machine Heated Humidifier

Why do people use CPAP humidifiers? It’s about so much more than relieving the discomfort associated with wearing CPAP masks.

For many people, the discomfort associated with dry CPAP therapy is substantial enough that they will skip the use of their CPAP machines, making them non-compliant with the instructions of their physicians and/or sleep technologists.

However, untreated sleep apnea carries many risks, including:

  • Greater risks of serious health problems, such as, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
  • Greater risks of car accidents due to sleepy driving. In fact, the American Academy of sleep medicine reports that people who have sleep apnea are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in accidents than those who do not have it. Additionally, CPAP users experienced a 70 percent reduction in accident risks than those who do not use CPAP therapy.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness that interferes with quality of life and puts you and those you love in danger.
  • Difficulty with concentration, memory, and overall mental clarity.
  • Lower than average immune response limiting your ability to fight off illnesses and infections.
  • Diminished performance at work that can lead to being overlooked for promotions, demotions, or getting fired.

CPAP therapy can help you avoid many of the risks commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), especially when used as prescribed, which makes compliance even more important.

Since the CPAP heated humidifier encourages compliance by reducing discomfort, it’s a good idea to use it frequently, if not nightly, to reduce the dryness problems associated with wearing your CPAP mask and to keep you compliant with your therapy.

Get Your CPAP Machine Heated Humidifier at CPAP.com

Many of today’s CPAP machines come equipped with heated humidifiers, though some will require an add-on to enjoy these benefits. If you travel frequently, you may opt for the Work with your sleep technologist or CPAP provider expert to determine the right choice for you.

If you’d like to learn more about CPAP machine heated humidifiers, we can help you decide if a CPAP humidifier is the right choice for you, and if so, which one. Contact us today to learn more about your options for an effective and comfortable CPAP therapy treatment experience. Use our live chat option or call us at 1-800-356-5221.

  • David Repasky

    David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it's like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient's perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

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9 Responses

  1. First time user or soon will be I will need a humidifier with my CPAP just trying to get one that fits me I do sometimes travel I am hot natured but do need moisture due to waking up with my mouth really dry and stopped up unable to breath thru my nose which unit is best for me I guess I wouldn’t mind a heated unit just don’t want water in my mask

    1. Hi Bertha, welcome to the CPAP family! Please see the link below for a few different machines that you may find interest in. Please note, no matter which machine you select, we would recommend that you use a full face mask. This is because you indicated that you have problems with breathing through your nose and waking up with dry mouth which is a clear indication that your mouth is falling open during your sleep.


      If you would like further assistance with selecting the best machine for you, please do not hesitate to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      We wish you the best!

  2. I have used CPAP machines for 20 years. The heated humidifier is horrible! Countless nights of fighting dry mouth, dry throat, waking up gasping for air feeling like I am suffocating, day after day of exhaustion, fatigue and so on and so forth. I have not had one night of even slightly decent sleep since a heated humidifier was hoisted upon me. Hot humidity according to experts is a huge health risk! It does not matter how the hot moist air is delivered! It is not how I am using the machine! It is not what I am doing or not doing through out the day! It is the heated humidifier and the most horrible part about that is you have no choice. It is either the heated humidifier or no humidifier at all! I have struggled and suffered in the so called “Care” of this industry for 20 years! My first doctor would not let me have a new machine, even tho my insurance would cover the cost completely. But, it was a cool mist humidifier, my second one had an option to choose cool or warm, and this one has been nothing but a nightmare most of the time I wish I was dead! I’m stuck insurance won’t pay for another one, so I am stuck with a machine that does not do what it should!

    1. Hey Nikie, i’m sorry that you are experiencing problems with your CPAP therapy. Please keep in mind that you have an option to turn the heat off of the humidifier. This will allow you to receive Passover Humidification, which will still provide you with humidification, but no heat.

      Also, using a humidifier with your CPAP therapy isn’t required, as this is an optional comfort feature.

      If you would like assistance with adjusting your comfort settings, please feel free to contact us at: 1-800-356-5221, with your machine near you.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. I am new to cpap therapy and have a humidifier along with a heated hose. For some reason they only work for about ten minutes then they become ice cold. I wake up several times a night with z freezing cold nose so I turn the machine off and back on to get it heating again. I’ve done all the troubleshooting bu nothing works. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Jean, i’m sorry to hear about the problems with your heated humidification. In order for us to assist you properly, we need some additional information.

      What is the name of the machine that you are using? What is the setting on your Heated Humidifier? What temperature is your Heated Tube set to?

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, when you are near your machine so that we may confirm your settings with you and troubleshoot if need be.

      We wish you the best!

  4. Hi,
    M cpap is Airsense10 and I have a question. What is the ideal manual setting for temperature and humidity?

    Thank you.
    Francis Tezanos

    1. Hi Francis, there is no set recommended/ideal setting as these are comfort features. I would recommend, you try maybe medium setting and then increase, or decrease the setting to your comfort level.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 800-356-5221, or you may e-mail questions to: cpap@cpap.com.

      Have a great day!

  5. Great read.
    I like that a heated humidifier has so many benefits. Sleeping with a CPAP machine is undoubtedly difficult- It’s great that with a humidifier, rest becomes that much more comfortable for patients.

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