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The Truth About Humidifiers: Do They Hurt or Help Asthma Sufferers?

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air_quality1Humidifiers are champions for easing dry air problems during the cold, harsh winter. By adding moisture back into the air, humidifiers prevent problems like:

  • Irritated asthma, allergies and other respiratory ailments
  • Nosebleeds
  • Scratchy, dry skin
  • Static shocks

But can humidifiers backfire on asthma sufferers? According to healthguidence.org, “heat and humidity increase the demand for oxygen and the change in environmental conditions like the increased mold growth, altogether trigger the asthma attack. Humid air with more water content is heavier making it hard for the asthma patients to breathe.”

So which is it? Do humidifiers help or hurt asthma sufferers? One factor makes all the difference.

It’s all about getting the right humidity level

Like with most things , the humidity level in your home needs to be balanced.

According to Mayoclinic, your home’s humidity should be between 30% and 50%.
When humidity is below 30%, your air will be too dry (causing the previously mentioned problems) and when it’s over 50% the air is too humid, helping mold and mildew to grow.

So, yes humidifiers can help asthma sufferers! But only if they have strict control over the humidity level.

With a portable or room humidifier, you must check the humidity level regularly using a hygrometer to make sure you are not introducing too much moisture into your home.

Clean the humidifier to prevent bacteria growth

Mayoclinic also notes that,  “Dirty reservoirs and filters in humidifiers can quickly breed bacteria and mold. Dirty humidifiers can be especially problematic for people with asthma and allergies.”

So, if you use a portable humidifier, you should clean it every 3 days and use distilled water, which contains lower mineral deposits–deposits that can promote bacterial growth. Of course, this can become somewhat of a nuisance (cleaning every three days), but there’s a way around this maintenance.

How to get strict humidity control without annoying maintenance

While portable humidifiers can help with asthma, cleaning them, changing the filters, preparing them for storage and using the right kind of water makes them a pain to maintain.

The low maintenance solution would be to install a whole-home humidifier. A whole-home humidifier (also called a console humidifier) is installed alongside your heating and cooling system in your ducts, allowing to provide moisture to your entire home

Not only is a whole-home humidifier low maintenance (no water refilling or constant cleaning), but controlling the humidity is super precise. You can either control the humidity from a humidistat or a compatible thermostat.

That precise control will ensure that you have just the right humidity level in your home, helping those with asthma stay comfortable around the entire home.  Of course, the cost of a whole-home humidifier is much more than a single portable humidifier. But considering that it can affect your entire home, it’s a more cost effective solution than placing several portable humidifiers  around your home.

Want to learn more about whole-home humidifiers? Ask one of our experts for help.

Air Professionals is a whole-home comfort company serving New Jersey homeowners. Contact us for more information on how we can help improve your home’s comfort.