For first-time CPAP users, the therapy experience can be a little overwhelming or even scary. Fortunately, there are several ways to become more accustomed to your therapy by making it as comfortable as possible. For example, for people who experience symptoms such as nasal congestion, mouth breathing, chronic or seasonal allergies, or post-nasal drip, improving your therapy can be as simple and straightforward as adding a humidifier to your system. While humidification is not necessary for all patients, it can resolve some of the symptoms mentioned above. The following article explains humidification and why it may improve therapy for some patients.
Studies have shown that positive airway pressure can cause nasal resistance, which can lead to mouth breathing (commonly referred to as mouth leak). Mouth leak lessens the effectiveness of treatment. With positive airway pressure therapy, patients can experience a vicious cycle of nasal resistance, mouth leak and less effective treatment.1
Some people have difficulty adapting to positive airway pressure (PAP). In essence, PAP creates a new climate for your nose and upper airway because airflow is greater than what your body is accustomed to humidifying. The greater your treatment pressure, the more difficult this task becomes. Your nose may become tender or dry, or it may respond to the new environment by creating more mucus to protect its sensitive tissues. A humidifier can prevent and even reverse these symptoms by treating the air before it even reaches your nose.
Just as some people have difficulty adjusting to PAP treatment, some people have difficulty adapting to less humid climates. Environmental factors can increase demands on your body's humidification process. If you travel to an extremely dry or cold climate, you may experience a sore throat, nasal congestion or irritated sinuses. The lower humidity puts an extra burden on your body's normal balance, and while some people can adjust quickly, others have a harder time adapting to the new climate.
If you breathe through your mouth, you may develop a dry throat. By breathing through your mouth, you bypass your nose, which is responsible for two-thirds of humidification of your airway. This means that you've tripled the humidification workload of your upper airway. If you add positive airway pressure on top of that you may start to experience stronger symptoms. Even if you're only exhaling through your mouth, you are still losing valuable moisture because you aren't allowing your nose to recover the moisture your body invested in the air as you "inhaled" it.
Now that you know how humidification can resolve or prevent the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to know that not all humidifiers work alike. The HumidAire 3i™ is ResMed's premium humidification system and is designed to form a seamlessly integrated unit when attached to any device in the S8™ series. It is convenient and user-friendly with no additional power cords or cables required and easily packed for travel with its compact design. ResMed also offers the HumidAire 2i, which is compatible with S7™ models as well as the VPAP Adapt SV™ and VPAP™ III systems. Additionally, the C-Series Tango™ heated humidifier features a disposable and easy-to-clean water chamber. Please visit www.resmed.com and click on the Products > Service & Support section for more information on humidification, including cleaning tips and answers to frequently asked questions.
Contact your HME provider or insurance company to learn more about your humidification options. Stay tuned as we deliver more tips and information on making the most out of your CPAP therapy. In the meantime, check out MyResMed.com (www.myresmed.com), a 24-hour resource for CPAP patients who need information on products, therapy tips, resources and much more.
ResMed is a global leader in medical equipment for the screening, treatment and management of sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory disorders. ResMed sells a comprehensive range of products through direct offices in the United States and more than 70 other countries. ResMed provides reliable products, quality systems and complete solutions for its customers and their patients.