If you are forced to use a CPAP because of your sleep apnea, you will know of the side effects. If your CPAP pumps air which is low in moisture, it will cause your airway to dry out and thus irritate you. Subsequently these dry passages can cause swelling which might actually narrow your airway further; in short it will negate the positive effects of the pressurized air. This is where a humidifier comes into play; these machines add moisture to the air which is being pumped. As of today there are two types of humidifiers: hot humidifiers and cool pass over humidifiers.
What is Humidification and Why Do You Require It?
Humidification is the process wherein moisture is added to your CPAPs air flow. Normal CPAP air acts as a irritant in everyone to a certain degree, it can cause side effects such as:
Excessive mucous secretion
Congestion or sneezing
But if you use a humidifier, all of the above can be prevented easily.
The Heated Humidifier
This type of humidifier makes use of heat to produce the required moisture. The humidifier can be adjusted to change the amount of moisture in the air. And the chamber of this type is smaller than that of the cool pass over humidifier. General research suggests that people using a heated humidifier gain more comfort from usage than cool pass over humidifier users.
In the heated humidifier you will come across three types:
Built In Humidifiers,
Stand Alone Humidifiers &
Another Option Is the Passover Humidifier
The Passover humidifier or cold humidifier is simply a chamber of water over which the air is passed to transfer the moisture from the water to the air. Here the air will flow from the CPAP through a short hose into the humidifier chamber into the CPAP mask. As the air passes over the water, it will pick up moisture, hence the name of this type of humidifier.
The Passaover humidifer
When air is pumped with low pressure settings, this type of humidifier is perfect. For those with higher pressure settings this humidifier will not work with the same efficacy since the time the air spends inside the humidifier chamber is lower. This is the major disadvantage of these humidifiers; you will not be able to control the amount of moisture in the air.
This type of humidifier also comes in three types:
Stand Alone &
Features of the Built In Humidifier
This type of humidifier is designed to make it a part of the CPAP machine; this effectively eliminates the need for a second hose or another power chord. But in these types of CPAP, the humidifier cannot be removed or separated.
No need to spend extra money to purchase a humidifier
Smaller and more compact
Disadvantage of these humidifiers:
Since this is a “built-in” humidifier, if it gets spoiled you will have to send the entire unit for repair.
If you use a pass over type of humidifier, such a built-in humidifier will provide less space, thus the amount of moisture in the air will be lesser.
The Stand Alone Humidifier for CPAP
This type of humidifier can be coupled with any CPAP machine. It is usually a separate component which will not attach directly to your CPAP machine. Therefore it usually has its own separate power cord and another hose which will connect it to the CPAP.
Advantages of this type are:
Better humidity and superior control
Larger water capacity
Usability- Can be coupled with any CPAP machine from any manufacturer
The major disadvantage of such a humidifier is its size, which will usually be greater than the built-in and integrated humidifier.
The Integrated Humidifier for Your CPAP
These humidifiers are designed specially by CPAP manufacturers to cater to the need of one specific CPAP. This integrated humidifier is a separate component which will directly attach to your CPAP thus eliminating the second hose and power cord of other humidifiers. This will make it compact and small. However this type of humidifier will be designed only for one specific CPAP, you will not be able to make use of it for any other CPAP from a different manufacturer.
An integrated humidifier
Advantages are fewer parts and a more compact CPAP. The disadvantage is that these humidifiers will only work for the CPAP for which they were made.