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Types of CPAP Humidifiers

Majority of patients using PAP machine experience some form of irritation. CPAP air is a known irritant and it some users may experience dryness of the nose and throat, and nasal congestion. Extremely dryness may cause the nose and throat to swell and bleed too. The irritation may build up as over time and may cause infection of the nasal passages. A humidifier adds moisture to CPAP air. By using a humidifier nasal passage irritation could be diminished or totally eliminated.

Types of Humidifier

There are two general types of CPAP humidifier: heated humidifiers and cold or pass-over humidifiers.

There are three more types of heated humidifiers and they are:

  • Stand-alone Humidifiers – This type of humidifier is unattached to, and will work with any kind of CPAP machine that does not have a built-in humidifier. A stand-alone humidifier has its own power cord and a hose that directly connects it to a CPAP machine. It is larger than a built-in humidifier and generally has its own ambient tracker to keep consistent room humidity no matter what the room temperature is. An example of this type of heated humidifier is Fisher & Paykel HC150 Heated Humidifier complete with hose, 2 chambers and stand.
  • Integrated Humidifiers – An integrated humidifier directly connects to a specific CPAP machine. There is no need for a second hose to connect them, and no need for another power cord. Removing the humidifier from the CPAP machine is easier. An integrated humidifier is more compact and therefore convenient to lug around.  However, its compact size produces less moisture for the user, and will only work for a specified brand and make of CPAP machine. Examples are Transcend Heated Humidifier and PR System One 60 Series Heated Tube Humidifier with Heated Tube.
  • Built-in Humidifiers – As the name implies, this type of humidifier is permanently fixed and cannot be removed from the CPAP machine. The heating element is a machine part, with the chamber removable for quick and easy cleaning.   Built-in humidifiers are space savers as they don’t occupy extra space.  Examples are AirSense™ 10 AutoSet CPAP Machine with HumidAir™ Heated Humidifier and ICON Auto CPAP Machine with Built-In Heated Humidifier and ThermoSmart Heated Hose. AirSense-10-AutoSet

Pass-over humidifier uses room temperature water contained in a chamber together with a CPAP machine to produce moisture and lessen nasal passages irritation.  The air actually flows from the CPAP then through a hose attached to a humidifier chamber. The airs then pass-over the water for moisture. The moistened air flows to the hose, and finally to the mask making the CPAP therapy more comfortable to the user. This type of humidifier is sufficient to produce moisture with CPAP machines set at lower pressure.  Note though that since the water is room temperature, in cold weather water temperature drops therefore CPAP air becomes quite cold, resulting to less moisture.

On our next blog post, we will discuss proper care for your humidifier.

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