CPAP machines increasingly feature humidifiers. This is one of the many developments in CPAP machines over the past two decades designed to make the treatment more tolerable for a greater variety of patients. Other changes have included machines becoming quieter and smaller. CPAP Batteries
Humidifiers are not actually an intrinsic part of CPAP machines and the treatment will work just fine without them. The difference is that some people simply cannot become properly accustomed to the treatment. A simple humidifier therefore can make the whole difference between the success and failure of CPAP treatment. Of course, other changes such as reduction in size and noise output and the introduction of varying pressure have helped more users access the benefits offered by CPAP.
The suggestion to introduce humidifiers to CPAP machines first came about as a result of the drying action of conventional devices. The continuous flow of air which is passed through the windpipe whilst the patient sleeps used to dry out the nasal passage and the throat. For this reason, patients frequently suffered sore throats and even nose bleeds. A humidifier ensures that the air passed through the windpipe does not become too dry.
CPAP machines with humidifiers feature a tank of water. As air is passed over the surface of water it will collect evaporated water droplets, ensuring that only humid air is inhaled. In order to maximise the amount of water that evaporates, the water tanks tend to either have a large, shallow shape to maximise surface area or heat the water slightly to encourage evaporation.
Some people mistakenly believe that humidifiers blow warmer air into the throat. Although it may feel this way, this is not strictly true. Rather it is the humidity of the air blown by the CPAP machine being more humid than the air outside which makes it feel warmer. Relative humidity makes air feel warmer or cooler, this fact is recognised by the heat index.
Although humidifiers aren’t strictly necessary to guarantee success of the treatment with many patients successfully using the devices without them, they can make a significant difference. Although renowned and respected amongst patients and the medical world, CPAP treatment has one major downfall: the fact that so many people struggle to become used to it. If the humidifier is the simple piece of technology which inexpensively and simply makes CPAP treatment that bit more accessible than perhaps it is the answer to every sleep apnoea sufferer’s dreams.