Well, people with sleep apnea who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy have air blowing into their noses every night. And when you consider that in the case of obstructive sleep apnea, the airflow must be strong enough to keep their airways open, it’s easy to understand that there could be problems.
A CPAP machine uses a hose and mask to provide a steady stream of air at a pressure determined during a sleep study. And that airflow can cause dry irritated nasal passages, sneezing, bleeding, mouth and throat dryness and irritation, runny nose, and nasal congestion.
But these common problems can be solved with a heated humidifier that adds moisture to the CPAP air. The warm moist air reduces the dryness and irritation of the nasal passages and the mouth and throat.
Since a human being’s airway needs to be warm and moist to function as intended, it is important to restore proper moisture levels to the respiratory tract. When we keep the nose and mouth tissues warm and moist, the body doesn’t need to make its own moisture, which can result in nasal congestion.
That nasal congestion then, in turn, may result in “mouth breathing” during the night, which dries the throat and mouth. You may want to ask your doctor if using a nasal decongestant or antihistamine could help alleviate the nasal congestion. Biotene spray or oral rinse products may help with dry mouth. Simple saline nasal spray solutions may help nasal passage dryness.
If you breathe through your mouth at night (sleep with your mouth open) and cannot keep your mouth closed, the first thing to try is a chinstrap to hold your jaw up and keep your mouth closed. Another option is a full-face mask that will allow you to breathe through your nose or your mouth. This is especially helpful if chronic nasal allergies or other nasal problems such as a deviated septum make breathing through your nose difficult. With a full-face mask, you won’t need a chinstrap because the seal covers both your nose and mouth.
How to Use Your Heated HumidifierWhat you want from a heated humidifier is warm moist air, not high heat. To find your ideal heat setting, start at the lowest temperature level and turn it up only as needed to make adjustments for your bedroom temperature.
If the temperature in your bedroom is very cool, when the warm moist air leaves the heated humidifier, it will cool and condense as it travels through the hose to the mask. Here are some things you can do to prevent condensation (sometimes called rainout) in the hose:
- Insulate your CPAP hose with a hose cover, or use a heated hose.
- Lower the temperature setting on your heated humidifier.
- Raise the temperature in your bedroom.
- Purchase a CPAP machine with a rainout reduction comfort feature.
TakeawayCurrent research estimates that as many as 40% of patients stop using CPAP after only a few months. A heated humidifier solves some of the common problems that cause people to discontinue their treatment.
So here is the most important reason you need a heated humidifier: you will be more likely to continue with CPAP, which will improve your health and help you feel better.