Everyone realizes that as the heat is turned up in the house to keep warm, the natural moisture in the air is decreased. This, in turn, reduces the amount of moisture flowing through your CPAP machine. With the flow from a CPAP machine already an irritant for one reason or another, the issue of a lower moisture level just aggravates the situation. This lack of moisture causes nasal passages to dry and may induce bleeding, swelling, sneezing and congestion. This lack of moisture creates a fertile ground for infections. Therefore, humidification is a critical part of CPAP therapy and the only way to reduce the dry irritation. In fact, humidification, especially heated, increased patients satisfaction, comfort and, therefore, compliance.

Cold Passover Humidification

There are two categories of humidification – warm and cold. Cold or “passover” humidification was the first type of humidification therapy for CPAP. Cold pass over is a water chamber that allows air from the CPAP to “pass over” the water before entering the CPAP tube thereby creating humidified air. Although this old style set up is effective for CPAP users with low pressure settings and a warm climate, it is not optimal. One problem is that the amount of moisture is static which might be too little or too much depending on the circumstances. Additionally, as the water temperature in the pass over falls, it could become too cold to tolerate throughout a sleep cycle. Given the difficulties with pass over humidification, CPAP patients have gravitated to the new and more advanced heated, integrated CPAP systems.

Heated Humidification

Heated humidification has become the most popular type of humidification for CPAP patients. Based on several industry studies, satisfaction, comfort and compliance jump measurably with the use of heated humidification. To meet the needs of CPAP patients, the major manufacturer’s including Resmed, Respironics and Fisher & Paykel have all introduced integrated heated humidification to their CPAP systems. The integrated heated CPAP systems have become popular because of their convenience, size and satisfaction with the results. In fact, the use of heated humidification tends to reduce or eliminate most of the disadvantages of CPAP use including dry mouth and throat and nasal congestion. The resulting outcome is a more effective treatment and a refreshed feeling on awakening. Although the disadvantages of heated humidification include “rain out” or water in the tube and mask, it generally can be overcome by properly calibrating the machine and the room temperature to avoid this situation.

Integrated CPAP Machines

Resmed, Respironics and Fisher & Paykel have advanced the integrated humidified CPAP system with each one having positives and negatives associated with their machines. Resmed’s S8 series new H4i “delivers 30% more humidity than its previous model. It is easily integrated into the CPAP and still remains compact for traveling”. Fisher & Paykel’s Sleepstyle uses patented “Ambient Tracking Plus technology which utilizes an auto-adjusting heater plate to maximizes humidity delivered by compensating for changes in room temperature, and during mouth and mask leak. The level of humidity delivered is dependent on room temperature”. Respironics’ newest machine the PR One system “analyzes ambient temperature, changing environmental conditions, relative humidity, and therapy flow to deliver optimum humidity – and ultimate comfort – throughout the night while also dramatically reducing rainout. Dry Box technology isolates the humidfier’s water source from the inner workings of the device to protect against accidental spillage and water damage”.

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No matter the choice of CPAP machine, the use of a heated humidifier has been proven to provide a more comfortable CPAP experience, higher satisfaction, less complications and, ultimately, higher compliance. This translates into a more refreshed awakening and higher quality of daily life.