Can germs pass from the humidifier to me?
No, using a heated humidifier in line with your CPAP device will not cause you to become sick or give you germs. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s heated humidifiers are pass-over humidifiers that do not produce aerosols (the fine water droplets that are visible to the eye such as steam from a kettle). Pass-over humidifiers add moisture in the form of water vapor. Water vapor particles are smaller than bacteria or viruses so it is impossible for them to be transported up to the mask (and then to you). Even if pathogens (germs) were able to exist in the chamber, they would not be able to be transported to you. Refer to the diagram below which demonstrates the size of water vapor, bacteria and virus particles.
The important thing to remember is that all equipment (especially your mask) needs to be cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis, so that it does not become a desirable environment for bacteria to live and grow. Follow the cleaning instructions for all equipment to ensure proper hygiene and cleaning.
Do I need to remove the water chamber from the CPAP device or humidifier when filling?
Yes, the water chamber should be removed for filling and then reinserted onto the humidifier heater-plate. It should also be removed for emptying. Remember: It is important to put fresh water in the chamber every day.
Do I need to use distilled water in the chamber?
It is strongly recommended that you use distilled water in the chamber as it is free of minerals and will prolong the life of the chamber. Using distilled water will also prevent mineral build-up on the inside of the chamber which can make it appear dirty. Distilled water is pure and therefore the most suitable to use. However, the use of normal tap water will not harm you but may cause the chamber to deterioate at a rate faster than expected.
(Note: If your chamber begins to leak, replace it immediately).
Do I need to use heated humidification?
It is recommended that every patient uses heated humidification in line with their CPAP machine as it will make treatment more comfortable. The use of a humidifier will lessen any airway irritation that causes unpleasant nose and throat symptoms. Although you may find you do not suffer symptoms from the upper airways it is still recommended that you use heated humidity as the comfort of treatment will be dramatically increased.
The advantage of this is that the nose does not have to work as hard to heat and humidify the air in order to get it ready for the warm and moist conditions of the lungs.
How do I change the Humidity setting?
Both the Humidity and Boost settings can be adjusted to achieve optimal levels of patient comfort. Refer to the Operating Manual for details.
How do I know when I need to decrease my Humidity setting?
Use the symptoms you are experiencing to guide you. If you experience any of the following, you should decrease your Humidity setting until the problem is resolved and/or you feel more comfortable.
• CPAP air feels too hot
• CPAP air feels too wet or humid
• The CPAP air feels stuffy or smothering
• Water in the CPAP tube
• Water on your face in the morning
How do I know when I need to increase my Humidity setting?
Use the symptoms you are experiencing to guide you. If you experience any of the following, you should increase your Humidity setting until the problem is resolved and/or you feel more comfortable. If you get to the top Humidity setting of 7 and these symptoms are still not resolved, only now should you adjust your Humidity Boost setting upwards.
• CPAP air feels too cold
• Dry nose, throat or mouth
• Scratchy/sore throat/hoarse voice in the morning
• The pressure at the mask feels too intense
• Congested or runny nose
How do I prevent water from collecting in my breathing tube?
Water collecting in your breathing tube is a result of condensation formed as the room temperature decreases during the night. Condensation in the delivery tube will cause tube vibrations and disruptive gurgling noises as the air passes through. More importantly, condensation may affect your therapy by causing an unstable mask pressure.
It is therefore important to prevent condensation from forming. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has developed advanced humidification technologies that aim to improve CPAP therapy by combating condensation (see Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s product range). To prevent condensation from forming you can try the following:
• Adjust the humidity to a lower level. There should only be a light misting in the six inches of tubing closest to the mask.
• Use a Fisher & Paykel Healthcare CPAP machine that includes ThermoSmart™ or Ambient Tracking™ Plus technology.
• Alternatively, if you wake up dry in the morning or with a sore nose/throat, adjust the humidity to a higher level.
How do I use my Fisher & Paykel Healthcare heated humidifier?
Firstly, remove the chamber from the heater-plate and fill the chamber with water (preferably distilled water) up to the indicator line. Secondly, place the chamber back onto the heater-plate and adjust the humidity setting in the CPAP to the required level (see the Operating Manual for instructions on how to do this). The humidity level you use will vary from other users, depending on your preference and room temperature.
How does heated humidification work?
Heated humidifcation works by increasing the amount of water vapor in the air, at the same time as increasing the temperature of the air. This happens as the water in the chamber is heated, consequently heating the air that passes over it. As a result, water vapor is added to the air and delivered to the CPAP user.
I feel air leak out of my mouth at times and it wakes me up - what can I do to fix this?
If you use a nasal mask with your CPAP therapy you need to keep your mouth closed and breathe in and out through your nose. At times the mouth might naturally fall open, letting air escape or air may escape from the corners of the mouth. This is called “mouth leak.” It is important to minimize and if possible avoid mouth leak as it causes upper airway drying and irritation of the throat. Below is a diagram which explains the vicious cycle that occurs with mouth leak.
The use of heated humidification will minimize the drying effects of mouth leak. However, if you find it is affecting your therapy you could try using the Forma
™ Full Face Mask, one that covers both your nose and mouth and allows you to breathe through either route.
I live in a very humid environment; do I still need to use heated humidification?
Often houses in humid environments have air-conditioning systems that reduce the temperature and humidity of the air. The only way to sufficiently heat and humidify the air from CPAP is to use a heated humidifier.
I use a full mask; do I still need to use heated humidity?
Yes, you should still use heated humidity with a full face mask. This is because you are likely to be a mouth breather (full face masks are usually given to patients who breathe predominantly through their mouth). Unlike the nasal airways, the mouth can not warm and moisten the air you breathe, so a heated humidifier is required to prevent oral dryness.
What is the difference between a humidifier and a dehumidifier?
A humidifier increases the amount of water vapor in the air, while a dehumidifier reduces the amount of water vapor in the air (i.e. a dehumidifier will dry out a damp room).
What is the difference between the Humidity and Boost settings?
Both the Humidity and Boost settings adjust the level of relative humidity in the delivered air. The Boost setting (which requires adjustment only in extreme situations) allows you to optimize your humidity. The default settings will be suitable for most CPAP users.
Why does my upper airway become dry and irritated after using CPAP?
One of the key functions of the nose is to warm and moisten (humidify) the air we breathe. CPAP treatment can at times overwhelm the ability of the nose to do this job. This can result in irritation of the upper airways, causing unpleasant nose and throat symptoms as the levels of heat and moisture are inadequate. Many of these symptoms can be alleviated by using heated humidification.