The dry air caused by heating systems, especially forced-air
heating systems (the most common type of heating system in the
United States), can bring on a number of problems for allergy
sufferers. Dry air can irritate nasal passageways, leading to sinus
infections or sinusitis. Dry air can also lead to increased mucus
production, which can pose dangers for asthmatic individuals.
Furthermore, dry air can irritate sensitive skin, exacerbating
eczema and causing discomfort for those with sensitive skin.
Making sure the air in your home maintains the proper level of
humidity is one of the best ways to alleviate these concerns.
re-introduce moisture to dry air, creating an environment that's
healthy for allergy sufferers.
Humidifiers Ease Sinus Problems
Those who suffer from chronic sinusitis or frequent sinus
infections know that even a small amount of time spent in dry air
can create symptoms such as irritated nasal membranes and sinus
headaches. Yet even if you do not suffer from regular sinus
problems, allergy sufferers are more likely than those without
allergies to develop sinus problems.
Environmental control is an excellent way both to stave off
recurring sinus problems and to prevent sinus problems from
occurring in the first place. The
Mayo Clinic states that the goal of treating chronic sinusitis
is to reduce sinus inflammation, keep your nasal passages draining,
eliminate the underlying cause, and reduce the number of sinus
flare-ups you have. Humidifiers are helpful in each of these areas.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic goes on to suggest humidification as a
method of prevention for both chronic and acute sinusitis: Use a
humidifier. If the air in your home is dry, such as it is if you
have forced hot air heat, adding moisture to the air may help
Direct humidification of the nasal passages through
irrigation products is another treatment option. Humidifiers,
however, keep your entire homes moisture levels sinus-friendly.
An added perk to healthy sinuses is that the nasal passages
normal function of flushing away allergens remains unhindered. Moist
mucous membranes, as opposed to those that are irritated from
too-dry indoor air, allow nose airs to properly expel dirt,
bacteria, and other particles.
Humidifiers Provide Relief for Sensitive Skin
There are several terms used to describe skin allergies: eczema,
atopic dermatitis, and contact dermatitis. Eczema, characterized by
swelling, redness, and itching, is a type of inflammation. Atopic
dermatitis refers to the general tendency to experience allergy
flare-ups related to the skin; this is the most common type of
dermatitis, and it occurs when the immune system overreacts to
allergens. Contact dermatitis, on the other hand, occurs when the
skin comes into contact with a particular allergen, nickel and latex
being two of the most common.
So how do humidifiers help with eczema and dermatitis? The
moisture that humidification units add to the air does a lot to
combat the effects of dry air, which can irritate sensitive skin.
Environmental control is largely a matter of decreasing total
allergen load; when you humidify dry air, you eliminate one more
factor that can contribute to skin allergy trouble. (For more about
skin allergies, see
Humidifiers Offer Natural Relief for Colds and the Flu
At least one family incidence of a cold or the flu seems
unavoidable during the cold winter months. Using a humidifying unit
is a simple, natural, and effective way to ease symptoms. WebMD, in
Coping with Flu: 10 Steps to Ease Symptoms, counsels, Run the
humidifier. If the air is dry, a warm mist humidifier or vaporizer
can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing.
Especially in light of the
FDAs warning against using over-the-counter cough and
cold medicine in children under two years of age, humidifiers
provide an excellent alternative to traditional medicine for the
relief of cold and flu symptoms. Humidification units ease irritated
nasal passages, help soothe sore throats, and calm down coughs.
Humidification is Good for Your Home
Dry air not only causes potential irritation for your homes
inhabitants, but it also poses problems for the home itself. For
instance, dry air can cause wallpaper to peel, can create static
electricity, and can lead to cracks in paint and wooden furniture
and floors. Home humidifiers, in addition to making members of your
household feel comfortable, also protect these other aspects of the
home by reintroducing proper levels of moisture.
Humidification is also good for your heating bill. Even at the
same temperature, dry air feels colder than more humid air. With the
added moisture that a humidifier provides, you and your family will
feel warmer all while keeping your thermostat set to a temperature
that saves you money.
Precautions to Take When Using a Humidifier
While incorporating a humidification regimen into your
environmental control regimen during the cold, dry winter months
goes a long way in easing many of the seasons discomforts, it is
very important to keep two things in mind: humidification levels
should remain within the 30%-50% range and your unit should be
cleaned and maintained according to manufacturer specifications. Not
taking these precautions can lead to more problems than you started
Extremely high levels of humidity can create additional allergen
problems in your home, specifically with dust mites, who thrive in
humid environments, and mold and mildew, which grow easily in an
unventilated home that has high humidity levels. Anymore, most humidifying
units, such as the
Air-O-Swiss 7135 Ultrasonic,
U650 Ultrasonic, and the
with built-in humidity gauges, which cause the unit to shut off when
desired humidity levels are reached . Alternately, you can purchase
Acu-Rite Digital Humidity Gauge to monitor humidity levels in
Running humidifiers with contaminated water is also extremely
dangerous. Water sitting in the units reservoir may breed bacteria
and fungi which is then spewed into the air and inhaled. This can
cause a host of lung problems, from flu-like symptoms to serious
infections. In addition, mineral deposits present in the water may
be released in the mist, which then settles and can also be breathed
in. To reduce these possible health hazards from humidifier usage,
the US Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests the following:
- Do not allow film and scale to develop in your humidifier.
In Air-O-Swiss humidifiers you can use the
EZ Cal Cleaner to clean and descale the inside of your
If possible, change the water in your room humidifier daily.
Empty the tank before you fill it. If the tank is not removable,
clean it often according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Use distilled or de-mineralized water in your room
humidifier to reduce the buildup of scale and the release of
dust. Do not use tap water because it contains more minerals.
Use demineralization cartridges
or filters if supplied or recommended for use with your humidifier.
- Drain and clean the tank of your room humidifier before you
store it. Clean it after summer storage. Remove dust on the
outside of your unit.
- Clean your room humidifier well and often during the
heating season. Be sure to unplug the humidifier before
cleaning. Follow the manufacturer's suggested cleaning
methods. If chlorine bleach or other cleaning product or
disinfectant is used, make sure to rinse the tank well
to avoid breathing harmful chemicals. Use a brush or
other scrubber to clean the tank. Be careful not to
damage the motor or to scratch the inner surface. Clean
or replace sponge filters or belts when needed.
- Maintain the relative humidity in your home between 30% and
50% if possible. Humidity levels above 60% may allow moisture to
build up indoors and condense on surfaces, where bacteria and
fungi can settle and grow. You can measure humidity with an
instrument called a hygrometer, available at your local hardware