Fisher & Paykel Humidifier – The Pioneers of Humidification Technology for CPAP Machines

Fisher & Paykel Humidifier – The Pioneers of Humidification Technology for CPAP Machines

Interestingly, neither ResMed nor Phillips Respironics was the first CPAP manufacturer to add heated humidification to their CPAP machine.  In fact, it was Fisher & Paykel Healthcare back in the early 90’s that first introduced a humidifier and warm air into the CPAP circuit.  Because of Fisher & Paykel’s in-depth knowledge of ventilation in the intensive care unit, they recognized the importance of delivering air at the appropriate conditions. Fisher & Paykel adapted the advanced intensive care humidification technology into a very simple heated humidifier that could be used in the home with CPAP. As some may remember and although basic by today’s standards, the Fisher & Paykel humidifier was effective and easy to use.

Fast forward to today - through extensive clinical research and education by Fisher & Paykel, they have essentially convinced the sleep community of the benefits of heated humidification.  Now, every machine on the market has an optional heated humidifier.  Fisher & Paykel itself offers a comprehensive range of CPAP machines integrated with advanced heated humidification technology.

Why Heated Humidification

According to sources, a person’s lungs function best when receiving air that is 89.6° Fahrenheit (37° C) and has 100% saturation with water. Obviously, the air we breathe is generally not at this temperature or humidity, especially if you are in the Northeast.  Thus, before making its way to the lungs, air needs to be warmed and moistened.  The nasal airway is the body’s humidifier.  By converting each breath into the perfect air temperature and moisture level, the lungs are able to operate optimally.

When a person is using CPAP, the nasal airway’s ability to add warmth and moisture can be at risk. The body attempts to heat the increase in air flow by directing more blood to the vessels in the nasal area.  This increased blood flow to the nose causes swelling and congestion of nasal tissues, better known as nasal congestion. With a congested nose, breathing on CPAP is not only difficult but much more uncomfortable.

One way to minimize or prevent this nasal congestion is to use a heated humidifier with your CPAP machine.  In adding a heated humidifier, air from the CPAP machine passes over the warm water before it is delivered into the mask for inhalation. Nasal congestion is prevented due to the ability of the heated humidifier to balance out the system.  Of course, in order to balance effectively, determining appropriate and comfortable heater settings is necessary.

Heated humidifiers can come as a separate piece of equipment that attaches to a CPAP machine via some tubing—alternatively, some CPAPs come with an integrated humidifier (see below).

The Importance of a CPAP Humidifier

During CPAP therapy, a significant number of users experience side effects such as a sore/dry throat, nasal congestion, a runny nose, or in extreme cases, a bleeding nose as a result of the dry CPAP air.  As mentioned, healthy lungs function under very specific conditions and, thus, it is important to add warmth and moisture from the CPAP air for our lungs. A heated humidifier is beneficial in minimizing or eliminating nearly all of the irritating symptoms of CPAP therapy.  By preventing unnecessary nasal symptoms, CPAP compliance, and quality of sleep rise.

Fisher & Paykel’s Answer to Humidification - ThermoSmart Technology

Room (ambient) temperature limits the effectiveness of conventional humidification. As air travels from the humidifier, it tends to cool due to the room temperature.  This drop in temperature causes condensation to form in the tube.  Anyone who has awoken to a rush of water coming through the tube and into the mask understands the annoyance of rainout!  As a result of this imbalance in temperature levels, CPAP therapy is less than optimal.

To combat rainout, Fisher & Paykel introduced ThermoSmart™ Technology which includes an advanced humidification algorithm and a heated breathing tube.  This combination works together to provide optimal humidity and reduce condensation.  ThermoSmart™ Technology, with its unique heated breathing tube, delivers higher, customized humidity levels. They are maintained through the night, regardless of ambient temperature change.  These higher humidity levels help maintain normal airway conditions without the side effect of condensation.

In essence, the ThermoSmart™ Technology mimics the ability of the nose to heat and humidify the air. CPAP users will experience new levels of sleep comfort as humidity levels remain constant through the night, regardless of ambient temperature change.

The clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of ThermoSmart™ is clear:

  • ThermoSmart™ provides a more comfortable CPAP experience1
  • ThermoSmart™ improves sleep quality and total sleep time2
  • ThermoSmart™ lowers nasal airway resistance for 10% lower pressure3
  • ThermoSmart™ virtually eliminates condensation even in a cool sleeping environment2 whilst delivering high levels of absolute humidity4
  • ThermoSmart™ is as effective as a nasal steroid in improving compliance and nasal symptoms5

Those who will benefit the most from ThermoSmart™ include:

  • Patients over 60.
  • Patients on medication.
  • Patients who prefer a cold room.
  • Patients with pre-existing nasal conditions.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.