Our lungs function best by receiving air that is 37 degrees and 100% saturated with water. Because the air that we breathe is not at this temperature or humidity it needs to be warmed and moistened before making it to the lungs. This is the role of the nasal airways.
Taking some of these actions might help reduce the severity of OSA for mild sufferers. However if you have MODERATE to SEVERE obstructive sleep apnea these steps will have little to no effect on treating the condition. For these people, the most efficient and widely accepted treatment is CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure.
When using CPAP the ability of the nasal airways to add this warmth and moisture can be overwhelmed. The body attempts to heat the air more by directing more blood to the blood vessels in the nasal area in order to transfer heat. This causes an increase in the nasal resistance or more recognizably nasal congestion. With a congested nose breathing on CPAP is much more difficult and uncomfortable.
To prevent this nasal congestion you can use a heated humidifier with your CPAP treatment. The heated humidifier is a chamber filled with water that sits on a heater-plate. The air from the CPAP passes over the warm water in the chamber before it is delivered to your airways. The nasal airways are no longer overwhelmed and nasal congestion is prevented.
Heated humidifiers can come as a separate piece of equipment that attaches to a CPAP machine via some tubing or alternatively some CPAPs come with an integrated humidifier .
Why is it important?
When we breathe our airways warm and moisten the incoming air for our lungs. Healthy lungs function under very specific conditions (temperature 37°C & humidity 100%). If we are ever exposed to air that is too cold or dry for our lungs, our nose attempts to add warmth and moisture but in doing so it can become overwhelmed. As a result we experience nose and throat symptoms such as a sore/dry throat, nasal congestion, a runny nose, or in extreme cases, a bleeding nose.
During CPAP therapy up to 75% of users experience these kinds of side affects as a result of the dry CPAP air. Heated Humidification is an important adjunct to CPAP therapy in order to prevent these annoying symptoms from occurring.
The Pioneers of Humidification Technology
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was the first to introduce Heated Humidification to CPAP therapy in the early 90's. We recognized the importance of delivering air at the appropriate conditions through our in-depth knowledge of ventilation in the Intensive Care Unit. We therefore adapted our advanced intensive care humidification technology into a very simple heated humidifier that could be used in the home with CPAP.
Through extensive clinical research and education, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has convinced the sleep community of the benefits of heated humidification. Today we offer a comprehensive range of CPAP units integrated with advanced humidification technology.