Therapy Equipment

How CPAP Humidifiers Improve Your CPAP Therapy

Updated February 19, 2019

Waking up with a dry mouth, scratchy throat and irritated nostrils from your CPAP can be unpleasant and discouraging. CPAP therapy by itself, at times, can be dry and irritating especially in climates with low humidity or during the winter months. Adding humidification to your therapy is the number one way to increase therapy efficiency and comfort. CPAP humidifiers work by adding a water chamber between your machine and your mask, adding moisture to the air you breathe.

cpap machines with built in cpap humidifiers

Types of CPAP Humidifiers

CPAP humidifiers can be broken into two categories, heated and non-heated (passover), but the majority of humidifiers are heated. The way that the humidification device connects to your CPAP machine will vary depending on the machine being used. Some machines have built-in humidifiers, in which case you’re ready to go. The AirSense™ 10 and the Icon Premo are two examples of machines with built-in humidifiers.

Heat and non heated cpap humidifiers

Some machines are designed to directly connect to a specific humidifier, these are referred to as integrated humidifiers. Examples include S9 Series, PR System One 60 Series, and the Intellipap. Integrated humidifiers are great options for people who may not want to use humidification all the time, or who travel frequently and may want to leave their CPAP humidifier home to lighten their travel bag or luggage. If your machine does not have a built-in humidifier or does not support an integrated humidifier don’t fret! There are universal humidifiers that will work with any machine like the REMstar and Fisher & Paykel passover humidifiers. Keep in mind the benefits of humidification are diminished with passover humidifiers as they generally do not add as much moisture to the air as heated humidifiers.

Benefits of Using a CPAP Humidifier

Humidification will increase the comfort of your CPAP therapy by adding moisture to your therapy air, but what are some other benefits? A big problem CPAP users face is congestion. Sometimes allergies or colds can cause your nasal passages to become blocked making it difficult to breathe, especially in allergy seasons. For those that use a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask, nasal congestion is a big problem. Dry air can worsen this by further irritating the passages, causing them to swell and become inflamed. By using a heated humidifier you send warm, moist air into your nasal passages promoting congestion relief. In some cases, it may still be beneficial to keep a full face mask handy if nasal congestion cannot be overcome.

Cons of CPAP Humidifiers

Humidification comes with great benefits but it does have a downside. A common issue for CPAP users is ‘rainout’ or the formation of condensation in the CPAP tube. As humid air cools in the CPAP tube, condensation can form, and using humidified air can encourage this effect. Sometimes simply adjusting the level of humidification on your machine will help mitigate rainout but you may need to use a hose cover to help keep the hose warm. If you experience rainout try the following:

  • Heated hoses reduce rainout by keeping humidified air warm all the way to the CPAP mask. Keeping the hose warm will help keep moisture suspended in the air and help prevent rainout.
  • The SnuggleHose, a fabric covering for your CPAP hose, is another great way to insulate your CPAP hose.
  • You can keep your CPAP machine and humidifier at a lower position than you and your mask. Positioning your machine this way will cause the hose and air within to travel uphill and any condensation that may form will run downward away from you and your CPAP mask.

Adding humidification to your CPAP therapy is one of the most popular additions CPAP users make. If you’d like to learn more about CPAP humidifiers you can check out our article “CPAP Machine Heated Humidifier: Reasons, Indications, and Uses“.

Aaron McCann has been working in the CPAP industry for nearly five years researching and learning about the latest and greatest in CPAP therapy and equipment. Aaron is committed to helping the CPAP community achieve better sleep and a better quality of life!

8 Comments

  1. Carol Wilson Reply

    My humidifer runs dry if I sleep 8 hours and it has a plastic smell.

    • Hello,

      First of all, it’s great you are able to get eight hours of sleep!

      Past that, if you are already filling your CPAP to the maximum level it may be hard to get more humidification out of your machine. Depending on what type of machine you have, you may be able to turn the settings down a bit to make the humidificiation last longer, however this would mean less humidification to the air you are breathing.

      Beyond that, you may look at another machine with a larger chamber. You may also try our Customer Service Team who may have some additional suggestions for you based on what machine you are using. You may call us at 1.800.356.5221 or email us at CPAP@CPAP.com.

  2. James Calder Reply

    Have you heard of any special things to put in your humidifier besides purified water? Any herbals, etc that may aid in sleep or health? What about the best ways to clean the humidifier? Mine has so many tiny crevasses and very hard to reach areas to clean well. Any type of solution I could buy to spray in the chamber to kill bacteria, etc? Thanks for the help!!!

  3. Barry L Campbell Reply

    I need a machine that takes out moisture,, and possibly cool the air..for me heat and moisture just make it harder to breathe. Do they make such a machine ? Would make sense because dry air is more dense and has more O2? But for me it makes me feel better, Thought about just hooking my machine to an AC vent ?

    • @Barry L Campbell

      Have you tried a passover humidifier? This will add moisture to your therapy without the heat element.
      https://www.cpap.com/cpap-humidifiers/cold-passover-cpap-humidifier.php

      I wouldn’t recommend hooking your machine up to a AC vent, you may run the risk damaging your CPAP in addition to putting yourself at risk.
      If you have any questions on the products you see from the link please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experts. They’ll be happy to assist. 1 800 356 5221

      Thanks for reading our blog!

  4. is there any way to make refilling the humidifier chamber easier? I dislike doing it because it is hard to pour from a water jug into the small hole without spilling, and then it sometime splashes out when I pick it up to put it back into the cpap. I don’t refill it often enough because of this and then I get dry nose and mouth, bloody noses, and mouth sores from the dryness. I wish I could somehow connect my cpap right to the gallon jug of water, but is there a “hack” to make refilling the chamber easier?

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