In this article I talk about:
- What is a Humidifier and why it’s more important than the actual CPAP Machine
- Why it will help you get more comfortable use out of your machine
- How to cure dry nose and congestion you can suffer with your Sleep Apnea treatment
- How to maintain your humidifier for optimum use.
Humidifiers: Making CPAP Treatment more Comfortable
There’s no doubt about it: using CPAP for sleep apnea really works. You will get a greats night sleep …
…but only if you set it up right.
CPAP Side Effects
Some comment side effects are:
- Dry nose and throat
- Nose bleeds
- Sinus Infections.
All of these problems are caused by overly dry air coming from you CPAP Machine.
This dries up your nasal passages and then your body produces more mucus causing congestion. With a dry nose you are more likely to get sinus infection with causes your body to make even more mucus and you suffer from more congestion.
It’s an endless—and unpleasant—circle.
To the Rescue: CPAP Humidifiers
These wonderful little devices moisten the air and this stops your nasal passages from drying up. And with it: the nasty side effects of using a CPAP machine.
This is why I rate a humidifier as the second most important thing for your CPAP treatment: more important than even the CPAP machine. When buying you should look for a cpap machine with humidifier.
How does a humidifier work?
The humidifier is made up of two parts: the water container and the heater. The heater heats up the water. The air from the machine is forced into the water container, flowing over the top of the water and sucking up the moisture.
It is this moistened air that reduces the drying out of your nasal passages.
There are two types of methods to get moisture in the air:
- Cool Passover
With cool pass-over the air is passed over the water that’s at room temperature. Because it’s at room temperature the air won’t condense in the hose and mask and thus preventing rain-out. The benefit of using heated water is that the air will contain more moisture.
Types of Humidifiers
There are two types of humidifiers:
A standalone humidifier is a separate unit that has its own power source. It is connected to the CPAP machine using a host from the machine to the water container. The output from the water container is connected to the CPAP mask.
This type of humidifier is useful for:
- Sharing between different machines
- People who need more moisture in the air than their built-in humidifier can produce.
Unfortunately this type is not suitable for people that have to set their machines to a high pressure.
A built-in humidifier.
Nearly all modern machines have built-in—or integrated—humidifiers.
These are custom built to work with your specific machine. As such it is not interchangeable between machines. They are optimized for your machine and will work with the operating pressure range of your machine: so it’s a good option for those that need high pressures.
One of the problems with integrated ones is they are too small. The amount of moisture they produce is dependent on the surface area of the water. If you live in a very dry or arid climate the humidifier may not produce enough moisture for you. In this case you need to invest in an external humidifier.
When moist heated air meets colder air condensation occurs. This is like when you take a hot shower and the bathroom window fogs up. When this happens in your CPAP hose and CPAP mask it’s called Rainout.
This is a problem because your hose may fill up with enough water that it blocks the air flow. Or the mask fills up that it drips into your mouth making you feel like you’re drowning. This will wake you up and spoils the benefits of this type of treatment. There are three ways to fix rain-out:
- Reduce the heat setting your humidifier
- Insulate your air hose (see SnuggleHose)
- Use a heated CPAP hose.
How to maintain your CPAP Humidifier
To make sure your humidifier works at its fullest potential:
- Always empty and clean the water in the container daily
- If you don’t you may get bacteria or mold forming leading to nasal infections
- Always use distilled water
- This is purer water than tap water and is less likely to have bacteria or mold spores
- It will have less mineral and calcium which reduces lime scale build-up.
- If you don’t have access to distilled water then use boiled water. It’s not the best but it’s better than nothing.
- Clean and Dry your hose and mask of any rain-out in the morning
- Make sure there’s enough water in the container to last the full night
- Never pick up or move your machine with water in the water container: you risk spilling it and damaging your expensive CPAP machine.
Consider buying SoClean 2: a CPAP sanitizer. It’s a simple one step cleaning system.