At RespShop we encourage our customers to use a heated humidifier with their CPAP machines. Heated humidification helps people respirate easier and also alleviates some of the more unpleasant side effects commonly associated with sleep apnea therapy. Most of our patients enjoy using a humidifier, and we believe that heated humidification benefits everybody with a CPAP or bi-level device.
The main benefit of the humidifier is that it mitigates the symptoms that sleep apnea therapy patients commonly experience. One of the worst side effects is dry mouth and dry nose: for many users, the inflow of air from the machine can dry out the inside of the nasal passage or mouth (depending on the type of mask). Heated humidification helps treat dry mouth and dry nose because the air is warmed by water molecules that help to moisten the inflow of air. This prevents drying, which will in turn help you feel better when you wake up after using your CPAP.
Many patients also enjoy breathing the warmer air. Breathing unheated air can make your throat feel scratchy; the warmer air is easier to breathe and helps you respirate naturally. Many patients with sleep apnea have found that they can fall asleep a little bit easier when they use a humidifier.
Using A Humidifier
In most cases, using a heated humidifier is straightforward. Nearly every CPAP machine can be purchased with a heated humidifier, and if you happened to get your machine without one, you can always get the humidifier later. Humidifiers for ResMed, Respironics, DeVilbiss, and APEX machines can be attached externally, and can usually just be snapped onto or adjacent to your machine.
From there, using and maintaining your humidifier should be simple. You’ll need to clean your humidifier every day — we recommend using warm water, a non-abrasive soap, and a soft cloth for the chamber — and if possible you should fill it with distilled water. Tap water can damage the interior of the chamber over time so you should use distilled water to avoid the build up of mineral deposits.
A handful of CPAP machines feature internal heated humidifiers. The ICON from Fisher & Paykel
was one of the first machines to use an internal humidifier. More recently, the new line of AirSense machines
from ResMed comes with an integrated heating system. Unlike with S9 machines — where you can add water without removing the chamber — you’ll have to pull out the chamber to fill it with water. This internal humidifier is found on all AirSense devices. Finally, the Z1 travel machine from HDM boasts an internally-located air re-distribution center that re-ventilates previously respirated oxygen, allowing it to work as a humidifier without the water.
To get the most out of your heated humidifier, you might also consider using a heated tube. Heated tubes help keep the air from the humidifier warm as it travels through your hose to your mask. Respironics and ResMed both make heated tubes compatible with their lines of CPAP machines and generic heated tubes are available as well.