Everything about CPAP Humidification

CPAP therapy illustration

Use of humidification in CPAP therapy

It is essential for sleep apnea patients who use CPAP therapy to have skills on how and why it is necessary to use humidification. Humidifiers are utilized to moisten the air brought in through your CPAP. There are two usual types:

  • passive (cold water)
  • heated.

Pressurized air, moving out of the CPAP, is passed through a humidification chamber holding distilled water and then routed through tubing to your mask, delivering air with more moisture. Most patients prefer the heated versions, as they can also be utilized cold if needed.

The nasal airway cannot maintain sufficient warmth and humidity for the high gas flow of CPAP therapy. As a result, the patient’s airways lose moisture and will definitively exhibit symptoms consistent with upper airy dryness and swelling such as the dry nose, dry throat, headache, chest discomfort, bleeding nose, dry, cracked lips, tearing of the soft tissue around the nostril and infections of the nose, throat, and sinuses may also happen.

When the patient sleep while using CPAP, mouth leak may occur. Because incoming air can travel directly out through the mouth without initially going to the lungs, unidirectional airflow occurs. The high flow of cold, dry air through the nasal passages leads to mucosal drying and rebound congestion. Swelling develops in rebound congestion and leads to a decrease in nasal airway diameter, and as a result, high nasal airway resistance occurs (NAR).

If you stay in a humid environment, you probably have air conditioning and dehumidifiers running, so the air which goes through your CPAP is cold and dry. This causes a spike in the occurrence of nasal symptoms and may cause discomfort. In humid environments, the nasal airways are unable to provide enough humidity to humidify the high airflow of CPAP therapy. This results in the nasal mucosa being deprived of the moisture required to humidify the air. The nasal airway is very vascular, enabling it to be prone to be dried out by cold, dry air.

Is it possible for a patient to get an infection from a humidifier?

Humidifier chamber with a hose.

A Humidification chamber attached to a hose.

The environment in the heated humidifier chamber, under most normal conditions, ensures that the majority of pathogens are rapidly killed. Studies demonstrate that even if pathogens were able to live in the humidification chamber, they would not be transferred to the patient. The humidity from the chamber is in the vapor state.

Heated humidification supplements the additional safety net that will finish 90% of the pathogens within 10 minutes of achieving maximum temperature. Distilled water, on the other hand, is cleaner, and elongates the life of the humidifier. There is no medium for the development of anything in distilled water. All manufacturers highly endorse it.

Depending on the quality, tap water is not needlessly harmful for use in humidifiers, but well water can be dangerous to the chamber if there are many deposits.

References and Resources