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Editorials |

Back to Basics: If It’s Dry, Wet It : The Case for Humidification of Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Air

Lee K. Brown, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: Albuquerque, NM 
 ,  Dr. Brown is Medical Director, New Mexico Center for Sleep Medicine, and Associate Medical Director (Medical Specialties), Lovelace Health Systems, Inc., Albuquerque, NM; and Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Allergy, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM.

Correspondence to: Lee K. Brown, MD, FCCP, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Medical Director, New Mexico Center for Sleep Medicine, Associate Medical Director (Medical Specialties), Lovelace Health Systems Inc., 4700 Jefferson Blvd NE, Suite 800, Albuquerque, NM 87109; e-mail: lkbrown@alum.mit.edu



Chest. 2000;117(3):617-619. doi:10.1378/chest.117.3.617
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The question of humidification during nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is an important issue because of the high prevalence of nasal symptoms associated with CPAP treatment and the effect these symptoms have on patient compliance. To enhance compliance, it would seem to make sense that the drying effect of the CPAP flow should be countered by humidifying the inspired gas as much as possible. Unfortunately, regional payers have resisted underwriting the cost of heated humidifiers (retail, ca. $580.00), which are significantly more expensive than simple passover humidifiers (ca. $115.00). Increasingly, payers are looking for data in the medical literature that would justify the use of humidifiers, and these data are sorely lacking. Outcomes data (eg, comparing CPAP compliance and side effects with and without various humidifiers) would constitute the best kind of evidence, but have appeared only recently, and partly in abstract form.12 Given our current state of knowledge, can we make a reasonable case for the use of humidification during CPAP therapy, and what does the article in the January issue of CHEST by Martins de Araújo and colleagues3 contribute to this case?

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