Are you shopping for a humidifier? If so, maybe the dry air in your home's irritating your throat and causing discomfort? Or perhaps the maintenance of your wooden furniture requires extra moisture in the air?
Whatever the reason, you've probably heard about the many health benefits humidifiers provide.
In this article, we’ll explore what these are so that by the end of this blog post, we'll have an answer to the question: Are humidifiers good for you?
Let's dive in!
What Are Humidifiers and How Do They Work?
To understand how a humidifier could benefit you, we need a grasp of what humidity actually is and how it affects our bodies.
In short, humidity is the moisture content in the air. If the air reaches above 60% humidity, our bodies feel hot, and they can’t cool themselves quickly.
But at low humidity, our skin, nasal passages, and lips can dry out, leaving them prone to irritation and discomfort. Not only that, but it can also prompt sickness, and colds are harder to deal with.
The ideal humidity for the air in your home should rest at around 45%.
So how do humidifiers reach these ideal conditions?
They work by turning water into a fine mist (steam or vapor) that increases the moisture in the air. This can restore comfortable moisture levels as found in nature. Sometimes, indoor heaters can dry out the air, and humidifiers can counteract.
There are two types of humidifiers — those that spray warm mist, and those that spray cold mist. Warm mist humidifiers use heat to generate steam; cool mist humidifiers use other methods to create non-heated water vapor.
The Most Common Kinds of Humidifiers
Steam Vaporizes: These humidifiers create steam, which cools before leaving the unit. However, there's a risk of burning, so this type of humidifier isn't recommended for using around children.
Ultrasonic Humidifiers: These use vibrations instead of electricity to vaporize water.
Evaporators: Evaporator Humidifiers produce humidity by blowing air past evaporating water.
Impeller Humidifiers: These humidifiers are generally child-friendly and use rotating disks, rather than heat, to vaporize water.
Central Humidifiers: These humidifiers have to be installed along with the central air conditioning in the home or office to add moisture to an entire space.
Humidifiers come in a variety of sizes. More substantial water tanks are best for stationary positions and don’t need refilling as often. Smaller humidifiers are easier to transport, so you can move it to wherever the air's most dry.
What Happens When the Air's Too Dry in Your Home?
There are a few discomforts you might experience if the air in your home is too dry. Many of these mirror the conditions in winter when the air is too cold to hold the humidity.
This is part of the reason why wintertime brings chapped lips, scratchy throats, static electricity, and increased chances of feeling congested and ill.
If you're experiencing these symptoms in your home, this could indicate the air has dried out too much (even if it feels warm and comfortable). A humidifier could significantly improve the quality of the air and alleviate these symptoms.
Your house might be fine in summer, but as humidity lowers in the winter, these conditions could change.
A humidifier is useful even just for these seasons and helps make the air feel more like it does other times of the year, achieving a consistent sense of comfort in your home.
It may even make you less reliant on other fixes to these issues, like body lotion and lip balm to combat the dryness of your skin.
The Other Benefits of Humidifiers
Health isn't always the first reason you might want to buy a humidifier. So, here are just a few different ways humidifiers can improve your home surroundings:
Dry air can cause static electricity, which you might discharge when you come in contact with electronic equipment. On occasion, this might damage the device, thereby causing often significant financial losses.
Most indoor houseplants are of a tropical variety and require more than 23% humidity. A humidifier will make conditions a lot better for them, so if you are a concerned plant parent, this might be an excellent purchase to keep your greenery happy.
In very dry homes, wallpaper can start to peel. Solid wood can also separate and leave gaps that fill with dust and prevent them from closing again. This applies to floors but also solid wooden furniture, like dining tables.
Humidity can also help with the warmth you feel at any given time. You perceive the air as warmer in a humid climate, thereby raising your comfort when it is otherwise too cold.
Instead of increasing dry heat in winter, you could simply add to the moisture in the room and make the home feel warmer as a result.
The Health Benefits of Humidifiers
Let’s summarize the ways humidifiers can be beneficial for you and your health.
Prevent and Alleviate Dry Skin, Eyes, and Nasal Passages
Humidifiers can prevent your lips from cracking and your skin feeling dry, painful, and flakey. This can significantly increase your comfort, especially during those winter months.
Plus, as humid air feels warmer, you can keep the thermostat down. Heaters promote drier air. The added moisture can also prevent your hair from drying out and becoming fragile.
Ease Symptoms of a Cold, Sore Throat, or Cough
Humidity in the air keeps your nasal passages moist, which makes it easier for your sinuses to clear during a cold. Humid air is also less irritating to inhale when you have a sore throat, and it can help clear mucus if you have a cough.
The results are similar to soaking in a hot bath and inhaling the steam. This is why humidifiers are often recommended for easing the symptoms of pneumonia.
A study noted that humidifiers could reduce the risk of catching the flu. When they added the flu virus to the air with a simulated cough, researchers found that humidity levels above 40% deactivated virus particles rapidly, which makes them less likely to be infectious.
Because moist air keeps the airways more lubricated than dry air, a humidifier can reduce snoring. A nice plus for any couple looking for a more comfortable sleep.
Can Humidifiers Treat Illnesses Like Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a severe condition often caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the lung. It usually follows after a cold or flu.
Symptoms include coughing, a sore throat, headaches, exhaustion, sweating, and coughing up mucus. Many recommend humidifiers to ease the symptoms of pneumonia.
If you suffer from severe respiratory systems, such as the inability to breathe or continuous and violent coughs,
Humidifiers alone aren't enough to treat serious respiratory afflictions. However, they can moisten the nasal passage and ease the symptoms.
Similarly to inhaling the steam of a hot bath, humidifiers can make sufferers of pneumonia a lot more comfortable and help them better handle colds in the future.
Can Humidifiers be Harmful to Your Health?
High humidity can be just as harmful as dry air. When the moisture in the air is too high, it can make your home feel stuffy and promote mold, bacteria, and dust mites. These allergens can trigger respiratory problems, allergies, and/or asthma.
If you (or anyone in your household) struggle with any of the conditions above, talk to a doctor before purchasing a humidifier. While humidity can help ease some conditions, it isn't recommended for all of them.
Of course, this can easily be fixed by simply turning the humidifier off. When investing in one of these machines, it is worth also getting a hygrometer.
This device allows you to measure the humidity in your home, so you do not go above recommended humidity levels.
The most considerable risk to your health when using a humidifier is to let mold and bacteria develop on the machine. This may promote respiratory illnesses and trigger flu-like symptoms. It may also set off allergies and asthma attacks.
To avoid this, clean all parts of the humidifier that touch water regularly. Simply remove them to put them to soak in a 10% bleach solution.
Clean humidifiers are perfectly safe to use so long as they're cleaned every two or three days (as per their user manuals).
The Drawbacks of Using a Humidifier
Depending on the specific make of humidifier, there are some drawbacks worth keeping in mind. Many of these can be fixed simply by researching the product carefully and choosing a humidifier of good quality.
Humidifiers Can be Noisy
As they process water into mist, they may make a rushing or humming sound. Nowadays, many humidifiers are very quiet and subtle, but it is worth looking into this potential drawback if you are concerned about the ambient noise.
Humidifiers Draw Electricity
The cost of running them can exceed their initial buying price. The cost of running a humidifier is between $30 and $85 a year, but of course, this may balance out easily when you consider the health benefits and protection to your plants and furniture.
Minerals Can be Dispersed Into the Air
If you use tap water in a humidifier, the minerals in it may be dispersed. This creates white dust and a crusty deposit inside the humidifier.
Some machines come with filters, but these have to be frequently changed. Alternatively, you can use distilled water with your humidifier to avoid this drawback.
Humidifiers Need Regular Cleaning
To avoid posing health risks and promoting the growth of bacteria. This is another responsibility to take care of.
Be Sure to Invest in a High-Quality Humidifier
Many of the drawbacks that come with humidifiers are easily offset by investing in a good humidifier. Here are some of the characteristics that a good humidifier should have:
- Quiet mist output
- Reducing airborne viruses and bacteria
- Filterless (this is optional, but can save you money on replacing filters frequently. You will still need to clean the humidifier regularly)
- ETL safety certified and safe for nurseries. Not all humidifiers are regulated by health and safety standards, so this is an essential qualification for a device to have.)
- The water tank size. Determine how often you want to have to change the water - for a stationary area that requires a lot of humidity, a larger tank is available.
Everlasting Comfort’s Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier provides all these traits with a 6-liter tank. It also features an adjustable mist intensity dial and aromatherapy compatibility.
Let’s Recap - Are Humidifiers Good for You?
The answer to: Are humidifiers good for you? relies on the current humidity of your home.
If you're suffering from dry air conditions, especially during the winter, and you want to make the space more comfortable, a humidifier could be the perfect solution.
The right moisture levels in the air you breath promotes better health - from healthier skin and hair to easier breathing.
But, if your home already boasts the ideal humidity level, a humidifier won’t help you. Too much humidity isn't advisable. Namely, because it promotes the growth of mold and bacteria.
Last but not least, if you do decide to buy a humidifier, be sure to clean it regularly to enjoy its many benefits.
Everlasting Comfort sells a variety of items to improve your general well-being. Browse our website today for more information on our products, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.