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Humidifier therapy adds moisture to the air to prevent
dryness that can cause irritation in many parts of the body. Humidifiers can be
particularly effective for treating dry skin, nose, throat, and lips. Some
people use a humidifier to ward off the common cold or flu.
However, overusing humidifiers can potentially worsen
respiratory problems. It’s important to know how to use them correctly.
Can I Use a Humidifier For?
Humidity acts as a natural moisturizing agent that can
relieve dryness. For this reason, humidifiers are often used for relieving:
- dry skin
- sinus congestion
- dry throat
- nose irritation
- bloody noses
- irritated vocal cords
- dry cough
- cracked lips
You may be prone to these discomforts when the air in your
home is dry. This is especially common during winter months or when an air
conditioner is being used during the summer.
The type of humidifier you choose depends on your
preferences, budget, and the size of the area you want to add moisture to.
There are five types of humidifiers:
- central humidifiers
- impeller humidifiers
- steam vaporizers
- ultrasonic humidifiers
Central humidifiers are
built directly into your home’s air conditioning or heating unit. These are the
most expensive types of humidifiers, but they are the best choice if you want
to add humidity throughout the entire house.
Traditional humidifiers carry a potential risk of burns from
the steam they emit. Central humidifiers don’t emit steam.
moisture through a moistened filter. Fans power the unit and expel the humidity
into the air from a single-unit system.
These are more affordable than central humidifiers, but the
downside is that they only work in one room at a time. There’s also a possibility
of expelling too much moisture in the air. This can be problematic for people
with asthma, as it raises the likelihood for mold growth.
work with the help of rotating disks that run at high speeds. These units are an
affordable choice for people on a budget. They’re also among the most child-friendly
devices because they create cool mists and carry no risk of burns
The downside is, like evaporators, they only work for single
rooms. They can potentially cause breathing difficulties for people with
allergies and asthma when they’re overused.
Steam vaporizers are electrically powered. They heat water
then cool it before expelling into the air. These are the most budget-friendly
and most portable humidifiers. You can purchase them at drugstores.
This type can cause burns, so it’s not the most
Ultrasonic humidifiers produce
a cool mist with the help of ultrasonic vibration. The units vary in price,
depending on the size you need for your home. Both cool and warm mist versions
An ultrasonic humidifier — especially the cool mist version
— is a good choice if you have children.
Humidifiers are often classified as console or portable/personal.
Console units are meant to add moisture to the entire house.
They’re often very large, but usually have wheels so you can easily move them
around. Console units are meant to add moisture to one room.
Personal (or portable) humidifiers are the smallest, and are
the best choice if you need a humidifier while traveling.
Adding humidity to the air may be beneficial, but too much
humidity can cause health issues. High humidity levels can worsen respiratory
problems and create an uncomfortable dampness in the air. This can encourage
the growth of:
- dust mites
- harmful bacteria
Clinic recommends that humidity should stay between 30 and 50 percent. A
hygrometer can determine how much humidity is in your home. Some central
humidifiers come equipped with hygrometers, but you can also find them at
Test humidity daily, especially if someone in your household
has allergies or asthma.
Burns are the most common injuries associated with
humidifiers. Take special care if you have children. Never let children handle
humidifiers, and don’t place a warm-mist steamer in a child’s bedroom.
Allowing a unit to expel too much moisture can create
condensation on the walls. This water can then turn into mold and spread
throughout the home.
Unclean humidifiers can cause bacterial growth that can
promote coughs and colds. Steam vaporizers can get dirty quickly, but they’re
also among the easiest to clean. Rinse out all used water between uses and follow
the manufacturer’s instructions and clean the unit regularly to prevent
bacterial growth. Wash the bucket and filter system every two to three days
Humidifiers can potentially emit minerals and
microorganisms. They’re not necessarily harmful, but the residue can bother people
with asthma. Use distilled water to avoid this problem.
When used with care, humidifiers can make a significant
difference when it comes to dry skin and airways. However, keep in mind that
this is a home remedy — not a medical treatment. Stop using a humidifier and call
your doctor if you have symptoms that don’t improve or seem to be getting worse
because of the humidifier.