CPAP Machine Climate Factors
Your CPAP Machine’s functionality or settings can be altered depending on where you live. There are various factors you need to consider, such as altitude, dryness, and temperature.
After reading this blog, you will know everything you need to make an informed decision before buying a CPAP machine.
According to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information):
“Altitude significantly alters delivered pressure according to predictions made by the fan laws, unless a unit has pressure-compensating features. Clinicians should consider this factor when CPAP is prescribed for patients who live or travel to places located at significantly higher or lower elevations than the titration site.”
So long story short, a change in altitude is correlated with changes in CPAP machine pressure levels. At higher altitudes, the air is thinner (i.e. there are less air molecules) so there is a drop in the air pressure. That means that if you use your CPAP at a higher altitude, the pressure exerted by the machine will be lower than your prescribed pressure, even if you set it at your prescribed pressure level.
This is important information particularly for CPAP users who go camping often or live at higher altitudes. Fortunately, most of the latest, best CPAP machines on the market are equipped with a function called ‘auto-altitude adjustment’, where the machine automatically detects changes in altitude and adjusts the therapy pressure accordingly.
However, if you are using an older model machine, you may have to manually change the pressure levels at higher altitudes – talk to your physician to get advice on exactly how much you should be adjusting your machine’s pressure level. There are calculations that have to be made before manual adjustment.
During dry seasons, the dry air that is forced into your nasal cavities or throat may feel uncomfortable. In fact, around 40% of CPAP users suffer from dry mouth, a condition that can cause other side effects like headaches, bad breath, sneezing, swelling, infections, nosebleeds, and more.
In order to counter these potentially negative effects, you should make sure to attach a humidifier to your machine – this will ‘humidify’ the air and make a more comfortable therapy experience. Humidification is recommended even if you don’t live in a dry area – check out this blog to read more about humidifiers.
On the other hand, if you’re in a humid environment, you may not even need to use a humidifier.
You will also notice that the water in the water chamber of your CPAP machine will deplete faster during dry seasons.
In cold conditions, the air you breathe will be extra uncomfortable – unless you enjoy breathing cold air. For that reason, we would recommend getting a heated humidifier instead of passover humidifiers.
Passover humidifiers simply add moisture to the air flowing through your CPAP machine, essentially making the air you breathe more damp. On the other hand, a heated humidifier warms up the air you breathe in (you can even heat up the water chamber prior to starting your therapy), making it generally more comfortable for the user.
Also, in cold conditions, the air you breathe inside your mask will be warmer than the air outside, increasing the chances of rainout – when moisture condenses inside the mask and wets your face.
In hot weather, you may perspire, making the mask more prone to slipping off your face and causing air leakages. In this case, you may want to try using a mask liner, or use a nasal pillow mask that has minimal contact with your face.
If you are using air conditioning during hot weather, the air in the room may dry out more easily – hence, the advice from the ‘dryness’ section would apply.
Watch out for allergy season – if you get congestion from allergies from seasonal factors like pollen, you may want to make sure you use a full face mask or a chinstrap.
You should have a better idea of how these various factors may affect your CPAP machine and therapy experience. We would advise that you talk to your doctor more carefully, to ensure you make the right decisions based on exactly where you live.