Humidifiers are an optional, though widely used, add-on to CPAP therapy. Adding moisture to the machine's air helps prevent dryness and provides a more comfortable experience. Humidifier water chambers are a major component of that process and require regular cleaning and replacement.
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What is the benefit of a humidifier? Are the parts easily cleaned and replaced? We've answered a few of the most common questions surrounding CPAP humidifiers below.
What Does a CPAP Humidifier Do?
A CPAP humidifier adds moisture to your CPAP therapy air. You would want to add humidity to the therapy air in order to prevent the dry mouth or dry nose sensation that you get from using your CPAP machine. Without CPAP humidifiers, you may feel parched and extremely thirsty in the morning after using your CPAP therapy. The dry mouth or dry nose sensation can be extremely uncomfortable to most users, and that's the reason CPAP humidifiers are so popular.
What Types of Humidifiers are Available?
CPAP humidifiers come in two different styles:
Many CPAP machines allow the user to set the temperature of their humidifier. Warmer settings typically add more moisture to the air. On the other hand, cold humidifiers, also known as passover humidifiers, do not use heat. So, a cold humidifier does not actually cool the air you breathe. Here's some more detailed information about passover humidifiers and heated humidifiers.
A passover humidifier, also called a "cold humidifier" simply means it's a humidifier with a water chamber that is not heated. Instead, air flows over the humidifier and picks up moisture from the water, as it "passes over" the humidifier chamber. The moisturized air travels through the hose and to the nose or mouth and creates more comfort while using the CPAP machine.
A heated humidifier sits on a small warmer which heats the water, creating water vapor that humidifies the air as it moves through the CPAP machine. Heated humidifiers are used to add extra humidity to the air. With some models, there's even a dial that you can use to increase or decrease the amount of humidity in the air. A passover humidifier doesn't have any way to increase the amount of humidity in the air.
What Type of Water Should I Use With a CPAP Humidifier?
Consider using distilled water with your CPAP humidifier, as it won't leave a chalky residue at the bottom of your humidifier chamber. The chalky residue mostly comes from tap water, which has added minerals and other impurities that don't mix well with your CPAP machine. Even filtered water is considered to be not pure enough to use with your CPAP machine. Bottled water is better than tap water, but it has added minerals and other additives that can still gunk up your machine. If you're traveling and you don't have any distilled water, bottled water is still better than tap water. Remember, the water in your humidifier chamber will wind up in your lungs, so it's important that it's free of any additional impurities. Trust us, if you want to get the most out of your therapy, use distilled water. Your machine will last longer, and it will be much easier to clean.
Can I Put Essential Oils in My CPAP Humidifier?
Putting essential oils in your humidifier chamber is a really bad idea. Using essential oils in your humidifier chamber can cause damage or loss to your CPAP machine. If you want to use essential oils with your CPAP machine, there's a way to do it without putting essential oils in the water chamber. CPAP.com sells a kit that allows you to use a filter near the air intake to provide essential oil scents to your machine. The filter contains the essential oils, and as the air flows through the air intake, the air picks up the scent from the essential oils and goes into your airway. That's the right way to add essential oils to your CPAP therapy and the only way that is safe for you and the machine.