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Does long term humidifier use affect lungs?
#1
I haven't slept well recently so maybe I'm over thinking things in the middle of the night, but my question is, does the nightly practice of having humid air pumped into the lungs for several hours at a time cause any health problems after long term use? Thinking of being more prone to bronchitis or pneumonia, maybe?
My humidifier is set to 3, btw, so average humidity plus slightly heated tube, but I might want to up that to 4 as the air gets drier with the winter heating.
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#2
Well, water vapour is sterile because it's particles are too small to carry bacteria. Also if you use distilled water in your humidifier the bacteria have no food to grow in since there are no nutrients in distilled water. Bugs gotta eat too.

So it's unlikely and of course you are already breathing water vapour all day every day even if you live in the driest of deserts. The humidifier gives you a little extra, but I don't think it is going to be a problem.



Ed Seedhouse
VA7SDH

The above is my opinion.  It is just possible that I may, occasionally, be mistaken.

I am neither a Doctor, nor any other kind of medical professional.

Everything put together sooner or later falls apart.
Your brain is not the boss.
Our forefathers took drugs.
He's no fun he fell right over.
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#3
The human airway is designed to warm and humidify inhaled air to near body temperature and 100% humidity before reaching the lung alveolus. Humidification and warming air can improve comfort with CPAP and is essential in any respiratory device that bypasses the upper airway. Non-condensing moisture does not cause injury, disease or irritation to the airway and lungs, and can prevent dryness and irritation that are frequntly complaints of using un-conditioned CPAP.
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#4
Ah, thank you. I' haven't noticed any problems personally but was wondering if it affects people who have used it for 10 or more years. Your explanations make sense, and yes, I use distilled water. In the summer I dropped a fresh mint leaf into the water overnight a few times and enjoyed the slight mint smell but the "bugs gotta eat too" makes me rethink that...
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#5
(12-04-2016, 10:31 PM)Russatrice Wrote: I haven't slept well recently so maybe I'm over thinking things in the middle of the night, but my question is, does the nightly practice of having humid air pumped into the lungs for several hours at a time cause any health problems after long term use? Thinking of being more prone to bronchitis or pneumonia, maybe?
My humidifier is set to 3, btw, so average humidity plus slightly heated tube, but I might want to up that to 4 as the air gets drier with the winter heating.

From the medical literature, one might deduce that a humidifier is a "comfort" item that improves compliance and reduces the incidence of unpleasant dryness in upper airway tissues. However, the key to effective use of the humidifier is to keep it scrupulously clean -- as well as cleaning all of the CPAP components. It also appears that patients who present with bronchitis and/or pneumonia AND use a CPAP device have not been studied well enough to draw hard and fast conclusions.

So, the real answer is in the form of a question to be put to your physician: Does the slight risk of using a CPAP with humidifier outweigh the benefits in preventing heart, pulmonary, and other systemic issues?

The answer cannot often be found in a statistical study that shows correlation, but because of individual physiology, comorbidities, and environmental circumstances, may not equate to causation. So, best practices demand an individual approach with physician input.

Personally, as long as you are not predisposed to COPD, bronchitis, pneumonia, or sinusitis, keep the humidifier clean and enjoy the benefits of alleviating discomfort. Best of luck with your therapy.

A heated humidifier reduces upper airway dryness during continuous positive airway pressure therapy.

Effect of continuous positive airway pressure therapy on infectious
complications in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.


Filters Reduce the Risk of Bacterial Transmission from Contaminated Heated Humidifiers Used with CPAP for Obstructive Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea and risk of pneumonia: a nationwide population-based study

However, there are some that question the study and its methodology ...

Implications of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and risk of pneumonia: overlap diseases or real risk?.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
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#6
i'd also add that people living in the tropics breath air that is 30+degrees and 90+ humidity all the time
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#7
(12-05-2016, 01:16 PM)SleepyBee Wrote: i'd also add that people living in the tropics breath air that is 30+degrees and 90+ humidity all the time

But then again, there are the factors of genetics, body acclimatization, local immunities to indigenous disease ... and most of all, they are not breathing from an artificial humidity source, that if not kept clean, can breed bacteria.

Technically this applies to all humidifiers and HVAC equipment.

If someone is really worried, you can purchase additional anti-bacterial filters which are designed not to drastically impede your airflow. The ResMed AirSense AutoSet actually has a selection (A/B Filter Y/N) in the Clinical Menu. I am not sure about other machines.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
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#8
Very good info, thanks. You have given me extra incentive to keep everything meticulously clean. I guess I'll do a search for the best practice regarding cleaning and changing filters.
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#9
A good daily rinse and weekly soap and water cleaning will usually suffice. Allowing the humidifier tray to dry between uses is almost a guarantee for good hygiene. I actually have two humidifier containers, and swap them allowing them to alternately dry and then putting them in use. With that routine, I've never had a problem.
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#10
I have been using a humidified CPAP for 5 years now without even getting a cold. My tank cleaning is done every now and then and I top off the distilled water in the tank every evening. I am not saying that is the way everyone should do it but it is the way that I do it. I think that not even getting a cold in five years is a pretty good result.

Best Regards,

PaytonA
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