When it comes to using a CPAP machine, comfort can make all the difference in whether or not you’ll stick with your treatment in the long run.
Some of the most common issues that CPAP users experience are the direct result of having cold, dry air blown into their breathing passages all night. Dry pressurized air can result in dry mouth, congestion, chapped lips, nosebleeds, and other similar types of discomfort.
While such side effects could discourage someone from sticking with their CPAP therapy, there is a simple solution: using a humidifier to provide a more comfortable experience.
How CPAP Humidifiers Work
During normal breathing, your nose warms up the air that you breathe in so that it reaches your internal body temperature. This way, it will feel more comfortable for you to breathe, and the air won’t irritate your upper airways.
When using a CPAP machine, however, the pressurized air enters your breathing passages faster than your nose or mouth can warm it. Dry, cool air is more likely to irritate your breathing passages, making a humidifier an essential part of modern CPAP treatment. Humidifiers are designed to make up for your nose’s inability to heat and humidify this air so your treatment will be more comfortable — closer to natural breathing.
Today’s CPAP humidifiers use one of two methods to add moisture to the air you breathe during your treatment. One version uses a hot plate that is located under the device’s water chamber. When the hot plate is activated, it heats up the water, releasing moisture into the air, which is carried through the tubing and to your mask.
Other humidifiers are simpler, simply causing air to pass over a water chamber containing room-temperature water. This allows the air to accumulate moisture, which is delivered via tubing to your mask.
Because each person will likely have different needs and preferences for the air supplied by their humidifier, CPAP machines typically offer multiple humidifier settings. These settings can be used to adjust both humidity levels and water temperature. It is important to keep the air from getting too humid, as this could cause water condensation to form inside the tube — leading to a “rainout” that splashes your face with water while using your CPAP machine.
Added Comfort From Heated Tubing
Heated tubing is another aspect of CPAP treatment that can improve comfort and enhance the effectiveness of your humidifier. In fact, some humidifier controls even come with designated options to adjust the tubing’s temperature.
Heated CPAP tubing can help address several potential issues related to using a humidifier. It can prevent condensation buildup, while also helping address issues where air feels dry, even when using a humidifier. This allows you to achieve the right level of comfort for your CPAP treatment and avoid uncomfortable side effects like nasal congestion and sore throat. Simply adjust the settings until you reach one that is most comfortable for your preferences.
Heated tubing can be especially useful for counteracting cold room temperatures during the winter. Air that passes through regular tubing will get cold before it reaches your mask. Heated tubing will either warm up that air or help keep it warm so the air that reaches you from your CPAP machine isn’t cold and uncomfortable.
Taking Care of a CPAP Humidifier
Similar to other CPAP components, the water chamber should be cleaned every day after use. It can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap, then rinsed and air dried. Once per week, it is recommended that you disinfect the humidifier water chamber. Some water chambers can actually be washed in the dishwasher, but others should be hand washed using a solution of one part vinegar and three parts water. Rinse the water chamber when you’re done to prevent soap residue buildup. The water chamber should be completely dry before you refill it.
The humidifier water chamber should typically be replaced every six months. However, you should regularly inspect the plastic for cracks or discoloration. A damaged water chamber should be replaced to prevent water leaks and bacterial buildup inside the cracks.
If your humidifier has a heating element, it will also need to be cleaned (after it has completely cooled off, of course). Wipe it clean with a damp cloth and let it air dry before putting the water chamber back in place.
Finally, you can care for heated tubing just as you would standard CPAP tubing. Wash the tubing with mild dish soap and warm water, both inside and out. Then rinse it with clean water. Hang it over a towel rack so both ends of the tubing face down to air dry. This way, any water inside the tubing will drain out instead of getting trapped inside.
Enjoy Comfortable CPAP Treatment With a Humidifier From Help Medical Supplies
By using a CPAP humidifier with your CPAP or BiPAP machine, you will be able to enjoy more comfortable sleep apnea treatment and higher-quality sleep.
At Help Medical Supplies, we sell CPAP machines that include built-in humidifiers, such as the ResMed AirSense 10. You’ll also find replacement water chambers and other replacement products to help you keep your entire sleep apnea treatment system in top shape. With discounts off of MSRP on many of these products and free shipping on orders $89 and up, you’ll be able to get the quality equipment you need at a price you can afford.