Humidification and CPAP Treatment

For those of you on CPAP treatment and suffering from a dry throat, bloody nose, congestion, allergies, and or sinus pressure- lack of adequate humidification may the cause of your troubles.  There are a small % of CPAP users who do not require humidification, but for most CPAP users, humidification plays an important role in reducing the above symptoms and adding to your general treatment comfort.

Your nose is your airway’s humidifier.  It warms and humidifies the air that you breathe.  When the cool dry air delivered by the CPAP begins to dry your nose, your body will increase the production of mucus in the nose to add more moisture to the inhaled air. Unfortunately, this may cause nasal congestion, runny nose etc.  In some cases the dryness will cause irritation, burning and sneezing.  These symptoms can be alleviated by the use of a humidifier with your CPAP.  Heating the air and the water will allow the air to carry more moisture as it travels to your nose.  In most cases this resolves nasal congestion and irritation if it is caused by CPAP.

For some drivers- especially those who use their CPAP device in their truck- the heat of the humidifier can be uncomfortable especially in the heat of the summer, yet they still desire the humidification.  In those instances, you can use what is called cold passover humidification.  Passover humidification is achieved by turning the humidifier off while keeping water in your humidifier chamber. The air from the CPAP passes over the water in the humidifier chamber- collecting the moisture from the water and providing some moisture and humidification to treatment.

As the weather becomes cooler and dryer, you may find yourself increasing the dial on your humidifier.  As you increase the dial on your humidifier be on the lookout for “rain out” or condensation in your hose or mask.  You may want to try a hose cover- which insulates the hose to keep condensation from happening; otherwise you will need to turn down the heat on your humidifier.  This by far is one of the most common complaints I hear from drivers starting about November.  Waking up to a mask full of water can be startling.  If obtaining a hose cover is not an option for you, then try a homemade option such as sewing a few pair of socks together and slipping them over the hose.  Of course, keeping the hose under the covers close to your body helps as well.

Remember to change the water out of your humidifier frequently- daily if possible, and if available, use distilled water.

Safe travels!