Common Questions About CPAP Humidifiers
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.
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.
There are 3 different types of heated humidifiers:
- Stand-Alone Humidifiers
- Built-In Humidifiers
- Integrated Humidifiers
A stand-alone humidifier is a device that can be used with almost any CPAP machine. Simply connect the humidifier tubing, so that the air flows through the humidifier chamber, and you're ready to go. Stand-alone humidifiers even come with a dial that allows you to increase or decrease the amount of heat applied to the water, which in turn adds more moisture to the air.
A built-in humidifier is exactly what the name sounds like. It's built in as a part of the machine, and not marketed as an add-on or an optional feature. Built-in humidifiers can have a smaller footprint than standalone humidifiers, and make it a lot easier to use a humidifier on a nightstand or smaller space like a CPAP caddy. Built-in humidifiers are popular, but be careful. The humidifier often adds extra weight and bulk to the machine, meaning a built-in humidifier can be hard to use during flight or in a small space. Many people use a built-in humidifier as a home unit, and then have a smaller unit for travel.
An integrated humidifier is a humidifier designed to work in tandem with one specific machine and is typically marketed as an add-on or optional feature that you can add during the purchase of your CPAP machine. In many cases, it can be attached and detached as needed. The CPAP machine can run without it, and it's not essential to the functioning of the machine. This can be especially helpful if you need to take the machine with you when traveling. Taking off the humidifier will reduce some of the weight and bulk, making it travel more easily.
A humidifier isn't necessary for basic CPAP therapy, but many people consider it an essential comfort feature that's more often a must when beginning therapy. No one likes an extremely dry nose or mouth, which is why these devices have become so popular.
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.
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.
If you're noticing that your CPAP hose seems to be leaking water while you use your CPAP machine, there's a reason for it. As air moves from your humidifier down the hose, the air cools. Cooler air can hold less water than warm air. As the air cools, some of the humidity in the air turns back into a liquid and travels down the hose to your mask. This phenomenon is called "rainout" and it's fairly common in CPAP therapy. The way to prevent it is to find a way to keep the air warm as it travels through the hose. This can be done in one of two ways: you can either cover the outside of the hose with a blanket-like material (called a hose cover) or you can invest in a heated hose.
Heated hoses work by using heated coils in the hose to keep the air warm as it travels from the humidifier to the mask. They're a little bit more expensive than standard hoses, but they work well in preventing rainout.
A hose cover is like a jacket for your hose, and it keeps the air from cooling as it moves through the hose. Hose covers are very popular among CPAP users and are fairly effective at preventing rainout.