Updated at: 31-01-2023 - By: Jane

A typical treatment for patients with sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). You can use a CPAP humidifier to help you breathe more comfortably by releasing moisture from a tiny tank of distilled water. CPAP therapy can be made more bearable if you do this.

CPAP therapy may cause dry mouth, dry throat, cracked lips, nosebleeds, chest pain, and sinus infections because it reduces the amount of moisture in the nasal airways. These problems can be avoided when using a humidifier in conjunction with CPAP therapy.

Humidifiers come in two flavors: built-in and add-on. The CPAP machine includes built-in humidifiers. It is possible to use an external humidifier with your CPAP machine.

For example, a machine-specific humidifier is available while others can be used with a variety of equipment. Your CPAP machine must be compatible with the humidifier in order for it to work effectively. Consult your CPAP machine’s handbook or contact the manufacturer for recommendations on the best humidifiers to use with your machine.

What is a CPAP Humidifier?

Some CPAP machines come with humidifiers built in, while others can be purchased with a humidifier adapter. Their primary function is to raise or lower the relative humidity of the surrounding air.

CPAP humidifiers are compact and simple to operate. You may easily alter the CPAP humidifier settings to provide more or less moisture to the air to meet your individual requirements by turning a dial or pressing a button. Temperatures are typically higher at night during the winter months, when operating a heater might cause dry air in the bedroom.

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Issues Solved By CPAP Humidification

When people use their CPAP, the forceful air passing through the tube can irritate the nasal lining, which can lead to:

  • Congestion
  • Swelling, itchiness, or even a burning sensation in the nose
  • a feeling of discomfort in the mouth
  • Mucus with a runny nose
  • Sneezing

Humidification, on the other hand, can alleviate all of these problems.

Additionally, CPAP machines with humidifiers aid in the alleviation of the following symptoms:

  • Nasal infections
  • Anxiety caused by seasonal allergies

Consider switching to a full face mask if you’re feeling congested so that you can get enough air into your lungs. A CPAP nasal mask will become obstructed if you’re suffocating, and you won’t be able to draw in the air you need to get a good night’s sleep.

Types of CPAP humidifiers

CPAP humidifiers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the type of machine you use and your personal preferences.

An integrated humidifier is a humidifier that may be attached to a certain CPAP machine. The humidifier can be easily removed for cleaning, travel, or any other purpose. ‘

If your CPAP has a built-in humidifier, then you have a built-in humidifier. Cleansing can be done without disconnecting the CPAP humidifier chamber. External humidifiers tend to be huge and take up a lot of room.

There are stand-alone humidifiers and those that are integrated into CPAPs. Stand-alone humidifiers can be used with any type of CPAP, whereas integrated humidifiers are only compatible with certain machines. CPAP machines have their own power cords and tubes that can be used to connect a stand-alone humidifier to the machine.

A heated humidifier warms the air with heat to distribute moisture. Unlike other humidifiers, a humidifier’s temperature does not change based on how much water is in its chamber or how hot the air around it is.

Humidifier for Passover – or a cold humidifier – works by circulating air over a water tank and bringing in moisture. The water is unheated and at room temperature. Compared to a heated humidifier, this type of humidifier tends to be larger.

CPAP humidifiers: A brief history

In the year 1980, the first CPAP machine was created. When CPAP air was sent through a chamber of room-temperature water in the late 1980s, sleep specialists began humidifying the CPAP air by capturing any moisture that had evaporated as it entered the patient’s tubing. Passive or passover humidification was the name of this technique, which was ineffective.

This was followed by heating the water to produce more vapor that could be absorbed by the air. In the mid-1990s, heated humidification began.

Patients who are over 60, using oral drugs that mention dry mouth as a side effect, or who have had past surgery to remove tissue from their throat may benefit “substantially” from humidification, according to a research published in 2001 in Chest. 2 That being said, we now know that humidification can help alleviate the discomfort of sleep apnoea treatment, especially for those who are on higher pressures.

AirSenseTM 10 and AirCurveTM 10 are examples of CPAP machines that include a CPAP humidifier. If you choose, you can remove it and cover the machine’s exposed end with a cap.

Two side effects and how to avoid them

Adding humidity to a room can have two main effects: One is that if your CPAP humidifier’s temperature or humidity level is adjusted too low, you may still experience dryness-related symptoms.

Rainout is the second and more prevalent side effect. When hot air cools down in your tubing, water condenses and seeps into your mask, giving you a wet look. Adjusting the temperature of the tubing and/or the amount of humidification in your water chamber can help prevent rainout. You can learn how to make adjustments to your specific machine from your HME provider or sleep specialist.

How CPAP Humidifiers Work

CPAP humidifiers can moisten pressured air in two ways. The water in a heated humidifier is typically heated using a hot plate tucked beneath the humidifier’s water chamber. It then delivers the moistened air to the mask via routed tubing, allowing you to inhale it while using CPAP.

humidification by passing air over a chamber of room temperature water picks up moisture and then transports it via the tube to your mask and airway is known as passover humidification. It is usually delivered at a lower pressure. You can use heated CPAP tubing to reheat the air delivered by this approach.

Nasal airway moisture is lost when using a CPAP machine, and a CPAP humidifier replaces that moisture. When airflow is increased, the nasal airway may not be able to keep up with the demand for warmth and humidity. When utilizing a humidifier, the air is more likely to retain moisture, making it more pleasant to breathe.

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One of the most significant advantages of using a CPAP humidifier is the reduction in discomfort associated with the therapy. Using a humidifier reduces your risk of waking up with a dry, itchy throat or mouth.

CPAP Humidifier Settings

Humidity, water temperature, and the temperature of the tubing may all be modified on most CPAP humidifiers to meet your specific needs.

Models differ in their ability to control humidity. Adjusting the humidity level can be done according to your treatment plan and personal preferences. Without being overly humid, the air should be pleasant to inhale.

On some humidifiers, you may adjust the temperature of the water. You may set your humidifier to disseminate either hot or cold air, depending on your preference. Dryness can be alleviated more effectively with the help of warm air. However, if you’re sleeping in a warmer room, you may prefer a colder air temperature.

Some humidifiers allow you to control the temperature of the humidification tube independently of the water tank. If raising the humidity alone does not alleviate dryness, this is a good option. Increasing the temperature of the tube by 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit may be the solution to this. Additionally, heated CPAP tubing and insulated covers are offered.

It’s also worth noting that humidifiers can be manually or automatically controlled. To maintain a specified temperature and humidity level throughout the night, you can utilize manual or automated settings on your humidifier.

Refer to your humidifier’s instruction manual if you’re having trouble adjusting the settings. Make an appointment with your doctor to go over the optimal humidifier settings for you.

CPAP Humidifier Care & Replacement Schedule

CPAP humidifiers should be cleaned and cared for according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Preventing early wear and tear and other damage to your humidifier is made easier with this technique.

To avoid the growth of bacteria, the humidifier’s water chamber should be cleaned on a daily basis.

Before removing the water chamber and removing any tubing, let the heating plate and water chamber cool completely.

Most chambers should be cleaned by hand, although some can be washed in the dishwasher from time-to-time. Warm water and mild soap should be used to gently clean the water chamber by hand. Clean water must be used to flush out any soap residue from the water chamber.

Allow the water chamber to completely dry out before storing it in a container. Look for any discoloration or cracks in the water chamber before reinstalling it on the heating plate. Replacement is necessary if your water chamber is showing any symptoms of wear, or if you’ve had your current one for six months or more. Fresh distilled water should be added to the humidifier each day before it is used.

It is also important to clean the heating element of your CPAP humidifier on a regular basis. Before attempting to use the heating plate, make sure your equipment is completely cooled down. The heating element can be cleaned by wiping it with a moist towel and letting it air dry. Before reassembling the humidifier, the heating element should be inspected for evidence of damage. If it’s broken or damaged, it needs to be replaced.

You can order a new humidifier directly from the manufacturer or from your healthcare provider when it’s time to do so.

CPAP Humidifier Cleaning

Your CPAP humidifier needs to be cleaned every day. This is done by removing the CPAP humidifier chamber and washing it with warm soapy water every day. After that, let plenty of time for it to air dry completely. Consult your owner’s manual to see if your CPAP humidifier can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Every week, the humidifier needs to be soaked in a solution of 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar for around 20 minutes, completely rinsed and allowed to fully dry.

What’s that you say, vinegar and regular washing? That’s a waste of time. Instead of washing your CPAP supplies by hand, put them in a SoClean and they will be sanitized promptly.

It’s also important to change the water in the CPAP humidifier every day. To avoid the buildup of dangerous minerals, just fill it with purified water. Tap water should be avoided at all costs.

CPAP Humidifier Hacks

There are many things you can do to avoid having CPAP rainout, and one of them is making sure your room temperature isn’t lower than the temperature of your CPAP tubes. Just modify the CPAP humidity level to see if water is accumulating in your tubing or mask.

Step 1: Get Acquainted With Your Device Getting acclimated to your CPAP treatment might be difficult at first, and humidity only makes things more difficult. Humidity levels might fluctuate throughout the year, so you may have to experiment with different settings to discover the one that works best for you. You can always ask your doctor for help on what settings to use.

Is A CPAP Humidifier Right For You?

It’s not out of the question. There are many benefits to owning one of these machines, including reduced allergy symptoms, decreased frequency of illness, and improved comfort while using your CPAP machine. You’ll be able to get a good night’s rest thanks to their fast-acting relief.

How to Choose a CPAP Humidifier

Many variables and humidifier styles can make it difficult to choose the right humidifier for your CPAP. Before purchasing a humidifier, we’ll go through the most crucial considerations to keep in mind. Even if you are aware of these factors, we recommend consulting with your doctor or medical professional before making a final selection on a humidifier.

What to Consider When Purchasing a CPAP Humidifier

It is important to think about compatibility, manufacturer recommendations and humidification type when selecting a CPAP humidifier. Additionally, durability, affordability, and warranty coverage are all important considerations.

Let us help you choose the best humidifier for CPAP use by going over each of these elements. When selecting a gadget, keep in mind not only the features it offers but also the things that are important to you.


Most stand-alone humidifiers may be used with a wide variety of CPAP machines, but other versions are specifically made for a particular model. It’s not uncommon for integrated humidifiers to only function with the machines for which they were designed.

Recommendations from the manufacturer

You may also find cleaning and replacement advice in the instruction manual.

Infrared Humidification



The longer your humidifier lasts, the better off you’ll be if you use it correctly and take adequate care of it.


The CPAP machine includes a built-in humidifier, which might raise the overall cost of the unit. Integrated humidifiers and stand-alone humidifiers are generally in the same price range.


Warranty terms for humidifiers normally range from six months to two years. Damage caused by accident, misuse, water contamination, or unauthorized repairs and modifications is not covered by warranties…

Built-in CPAP Humidifiers vs External Humidifiers

Many different types of CPAP humidifiers exist, each with its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. Humidifiers that are built-in or incorporated into a machine will only work with that machine. The interoperability of standalone humidifiers with a wide range of CPAP machines is greater.

Only the CPAP machine for which the humidifier is designed will be able to use the humidifier. As a result, transporting, storing, cleaning, and using it are all made much simpler and more convenient.

Components that have their own power cord and CPAP machine hose are known as stand-alone humidifiers. As long as the machine does not include a built-in or integrated humidifier, they are usually compatible with a variety of equipment. However, they take up more room than humidifiers that are already part of the home.

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No matter how hard you try, there’s no getting rid of the machine’s built-in humidifier. Cleaning the water chamber is possible, however. More compact humidifiers tend to be built-in rather than stand-alone. Because they have a smaller surface area, they may be able to release less humidity. It is necessary to send in the entire humidifier for repair if a component fails.

How to Stop Using It

According to your device model, you may be able to avoid using the humidifier on your CPAP. Simply detach it from the blower component and connect your tubing directly to the blower’s outlet would likely suffice.

You may simply switch off the humidifier’s heating element and the heated tubing in newer versions, such as ResMed’s AirSense series. Patient settings can be used to turn it off. The heated, dry, and empty room allows the air to pass through without generating any odours.

It’s possible that you’ll notice an increase in dryness when you cease using a humidifier. Use saline sprays or rinses if you detect a dry mouth or nosebleeds. If you prefer, you can simply turn on the humidifier again. You may find that you prefer to use it at certain times of the year or in specific places, and that you can take a vacation from it at other times.

If you’re still having issues, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About CPAP Humidifiers

A CPAP humidifier comes with a number of additional considerations. A medical expert or doctor can answer any additional questions or concerns you may have.

What is the best way to clean CPAP humidifiers?

Before you begin cleaning your CPAP humidifier, make sure you’ve followed the manufacturer’s recommendations. Use a mild soap and warm water to clean the water chamber on a daily basis. Weekly disinfection of the water chamber is another option. For the majority of models, a vinegar-to-water mix of three parts water to one part vinegar is perfectly safe to use.

Your humidifier will last longer and work better if you clean it on a regular basis. The bacteria buildup in the tubes and chambers is also prevented.

How much do CPAP humidifiers cost?

CPAP humidifiers, both stand-alone and integrated, typically cost between $100 and $300, however the price can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer and store.

For a cheaper cost, independent and integrated humidifiers can be upgraded with new parts. Replacement tubes and water chambers can be purchased separately from many vendors.

The CPAP machine comes with built-in humidifiers. There may or may not be a warranty included with the purchase.

Are CPAP humidifiers covered by insurance?

When deemed medically necessary, CPAP humidifiers are typically covered by private health insurance. It’s recommended to get in touch with your insurance company for more information.

Humidifiers are covered by Medicare if they are used in conjunction with a CPAP machine for medical reasons. Most likely you will have to pay 20% of the approved amount.

What kind of water should be used in a CPAP humidifier?

CPAP humidifiers should always be filled with distilled water. Minerals and other deposits from tap water can build up in the water chamber even if the water is filtered.

The humidifier’s lifespan can be extended by using distilled water to prevent calcification.

Can you use essential oils in a CPAP humidifier?

A CPAP humidifier should not be used with essential oils. Anywhere around the CPAP machine is not safe.

A CPAP machine can send oil droplets deep into your lungs if you’re using it. Lung discomfort can be caused by as little as one or two of these particles. Overexposure to inhalants is also a problem.

Can you use a CPAP without the humidifier or water chamber?

Without a humidifier or water chamber, CPAP machines can be used. Dry air will continue to be blown into your mask by the machine.

A humidifier may not be necessary if you live in a humid area. Those who have been using CPAP for a lengthy period of time may no longer require a humidifier. New users of CPAP therapy may benefit from using a humidifier.

Can I use my CPAP humidifier onboard an aircraft?

Airlines will allow CPAP humidifiers on their planes, but each one has its own rules on what equipment can be brought on board. Call the airline before booking a journey to find out what its rules are on packing and using medical equipment.

CPAP humidifiers are exempt from the airline’s carry-on item limit because they are considered medical gadgets. The humidifier can also be transported in your hand luggage. It’s not a good idea to put your CPAP machine in your checked luggage because it could get damaged, misplaced, or delayed.

Prior to putting your humidifier in a carry-on bag, make sure it is completely empty and dry.

Which humidification style is suitable for me?

It’s up to the individual to decide whether heated humidification or passover humidification is best for them. A cooler environment and those who are more prone to dryness can both benefit from heated humidification.

When it comes to humidifiers, Passover humidification is the best option for individuals who need or prefer lower pressure settings. It may be more comfortable for those who live in hotter areas or who sleep hot.

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