What is a CPAP Humidifier and do I need one?


Most modern Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines that treat sleep apnea offer for option to include a CPAP humidifier. Many first time CPAP users aren’t sure whether or not to purchase the optional humidifier, and often wonder if it’s worth the extra price. In this week’s post, we’ll outline why an individual might benefit from the additional humidifier and how it can increase quality of therapy, as well as increase the probability that you will successfully adopt the new CPAP therapy into your lifestyle permanently and enjoy the benefits to the fullest extent.

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New CPAP users often report discomfort during the transition into CPAP therapy. While some of this discomfort is simply lifestyle adjustment, a majority of the discomfort may be caused by airway passage dryness that can accompany therapy based on your atmospheric and geographical environment. The lack of moisture may result in a sore throat, dry nasal passage, or swelling of the tongue. If you find any of these symptoms to be the case with your CPAP therapy, the inclusion of a humidifier into your treatment plan can help alleviate these symptoms and maintain comfortability throughout the entire night.  As air passes from the machine to the mask, a small amount of moisture is added to the air stream, alloying for a more comfortable breathing dynamic.  All major manufacturers of CPAP machines offer some sort of humidifier that is compatible with their machines, so finding the right one is often very simple.



Patients that live in consistently dryer climates such as areas in the southwestern United States often find the need for a humidifier, as well as cities that experience relatively colder winters that lead to dry air. The moisture that normally acts as a natural lubricant freezes due to the severely cold temperatures, causing the air to irritate your breathing passageways and reduce comfort during your night’s sleep. If this scenario sounds familiar, or you will soon be moving to a colder environment, your best solution is to include an in-home humidifier as well as a CPAP humidifier to combat the negative effects of frigid, dry air and ultimately improve your CPAP experience.
The discomfort is not unique to one type of sleep apnea therapy device, as patients who use CPAP, Auto CPAP, and BiPAP therapy all have reported discomfort based on  geography. Customers might feel compelled to discontinue using their machine but it is important to keep in mind that all of the major manufacturers of CPAP Supplies offer some type of heated humidifier. Whether you own a Resmed, Respironics, Fisher & Paykel, DeVilbiss, or a different brand, you might consider trying a heated humidifier with your present machine.

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Final Thoughts

Of course, the above outline is not an exhaustive resource, but hopefully you now have a better understanding of the whether or not you could personally benefit from a CPAP humidifier in conjunction with your CPAP Machine. It is best to speak with your doctor to determine what is best for your individual needs.
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