Winter months mean drier air and colder temperatures. The change in the weather feels amazing and most of us welcome it gladly by donning our hoodies, buying pumpkin-spice everything, and planning ahead for holidays, but for those among us with allergies and/or sinus issues, the onset of fall can really take the wind from our sails.
Instead of pumpkin spice and all things nice, we’re thinking of boxes of tissues, extra lip balm, heavy duty lotion, and uncomfortable nasal rinses. Dry weather wreaks havoc on our skin and upper respiratory system and can really interfere with our lives.
When the weather turns, the air gets drier. Less moisture in the air means the moisture in your skin and mucous membranes (like your lips and inside your nose) evaporates more quickly, leaving your skin, lips, and nasal passages feeling parched and excessively dry. It can be frustrating to feel like no matter how many lotions, sprays, rinses, or balms you use, you just can’t seem to retain enough moisture to stay comfortable.
Seasonal allergies also come into play. Not only does ragweed bloom in fall and winter months, these months are also months that see more allergy-related reactions to smoke from hearthside fires and candles, greenery from trees and wreaths, and even heavily scented air fresheners. These allergy triggers can be nightmarish for some, causing the entire season to feel uncomfortable and making them downright miserable.
Fall and winter are also notorious for the onset of colds and flu. Cold and flu season affects us all, and can be absolutely agonizing. There’s no cure for the common cold or flu, but the shelves are full of drugs that can help mitigate the symptoms.
Unfortunately, many of these medications are able to help alleviate the symptoms of congestion and aches and pains, but leave us feeling loopy, sleepy, or jittery. Many of us prefer more natural methods of cold and flu relief to ease our symptoms and help us rest.
Thankfully, there are solutions we can use in the winter months to help keep the air comfortable and bring us much needed relief. We can use a simple humidifier to help push moisture back into the dry air, keeping us comfortable and helping reduce the negative impact we feel from harsh winter months.
What Are Humidifiers?
Humidifiers are small, electric appliances that help keep the air in our homes and/or offices more comfortable by restoring lost humidify experienced from drier weather or heating and cooling systems that deplete the air of moisture.
Humidifiers generally work in one of two ways:
- Filtration style humidifiers. These types of humidifiers work by causing air to flow over a pre-moistened filter. The air that is then released into a room is moist, which raises the humidity level. Filtration humidifiers, however, are not without risk. Unless you purchase an expensive filtration humidifier, it can be impossible to properly calibrate the humidifier to produce the correct amount of moisture. This can lead to issues over time like mold and mildew, which can have the opposite effect of making you more comfortable.
- Filterless humidifiers. Filterless humidifiers work by disbursing water into the air without the use of a filter. These filters can add moisture to the air by means of a reservoir of water and an electrical power system that draws the water up and emits it into the air as a water vapor mist. These types of humidifiers use either steam systems, a series of rotating discs, or ultrasonic vibration to create the power needed to move water vapor from the reservoir into the air.
How Do Humidifiers Work?
Humidifiers work by delivering moisture into the parched air to keep the humidity level at a comfortable and healthy 45% or higher average. A room that maintains a humidity level of 45% or higher is capable of keeping the occupants comfortable and can protect them against common low-humidity problems like dry skin, nasal and upper respiratory irritation, and sleep disruption.
Humidifiers are usually only needed while someone is in a room for long periods of time; for instance, during a work day or overnight asleep. As such, many humidifiers are placed in bedrooms, home offices, or even media rooms where people tend to spend longer than just an hour.
Humidifiers must have the water reservoir filled when it runs out. If you settle for a humidifier that is not efficient, you will likely find yourself refilling the humidifier once daily, or even numerous times daily, depending on how frequently you use it. As such, it’s best to find a humidifier with a larger reservoir and a system capable of efficiently using the water vapor.
Who Can Benefit from a Humidifier?
- Babies and toddlers. Extremely popular in nurseries, humidifiers are used to help babies and toddlers get relief from congestion they may experience that prevents them from getting rest. Babies and toddlers are more susceptible to congestion, especially in winter months, which can leave them feeling uncomfortable.
- People with allergies. If the onset of fall elicits thoughts of ragweed, smoke, and sneezing instead of pumpkin spice and falling leaves, you probably suffer with allergies. Allergies can make anyone miserable and ruin an otherwise enjoyable season.
- Children/adults who frequently get nosebleeds. Nosebleeds can be caused by many different underlying problems, but they can be exacerbated by dry air that causes the mucous membranes in the nose to dry and crack.
- People who are sick. If you’ve got a cold or the flu, using a humidifier can give you relief. When you’re sick, your nasal passages become congested, and your throat can become dry and scratchy. Humidifiers help keep the lining of your nasal passages and esophagus moist so you can experience relief and get the rest you need.
Where Should You Put Humidifiers?
When determining where to place your humidifier, there are several factors to consider.
Are there children allowed in this space? If so, you will want to ensure that the humidifier is out of reach. Although an ultrasonic humidifier is child-friendly, you still don’t want to create an opportunity for the humidifier to be knocked over.
Are you using the humidifier to help you get a better night’s sleep? If so, you’ll want to ensure the humidifier is placed near your bed so that the cool mist will reach you. You’ll want to ensure the humidifier is about three feet from your bed.
Height. It’s important to place a humidifier high enough off the floor so that the mist will be effective in permeating the air, but not so high that it blows directly onto the ceiling.
Away from direct sunlight. If you’re using your humidifier during the day, look for a spot in the room that does not receive direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can negatively affect the cool mist released by the humidifier.
Center of the room. If possible, a great place for a humidifier is the center of a room. This allows for the most equal distribution of cool mist. However, it’s usually unlikely that you’ll be able to place a humidifier directly in the center of the room, and as such, you should just place it as close to center as you can.
Flat, protected surfaces. Because of the nature of a humidifier, it’s important to place it atop of something that can safely be exposed to moisture. It may even be necessary to place a mat or towel beneath the humidifier if you are afraid it will leak. However, if you’ve purchased a quality humidifier, you shouldn’t have to worry about leakes.
Where Not to Put a Humidifier
Just as there are places that are perfect for placing a humidifier, there are some spots you’ll want to avoid.
- Within arms’ length of a crib or toddler bed. For obvious reasons, this presents a safety issue.
- On top of or near a wooden surface that cannot withstand moisture. If you have untreated surfaces in your room, make sure you align your humidifier away from them, as the cool mist can damage the wood.
- Direct sunlight. As previously mentioned, placing a humidifier in direct sunlight can negatively impact the cool mist that is released into the air, and can potentially damage the appliance.
- Directly on the floor. Your humidifier can be used on the floor, but it’s not the best place for it. When humidifiers are placed on floors, they aren’t as effective in creating the perfect level of humidity in the room as they are when placed several feet off the floor.
Some small ultrasonic humidifiers are powerful enough to pack a real punch in terms of ability to condition larger areas; larger as in 500 square feet. This means if you’ve got a space this large, you’ll only need one humidifier to treat the area. These are ideal for small rooms and larger spaces and are extremely cost efficient.
Humidifiers are great appliances that can help bring relief to dry, congested, uncomfortable children, babies, and adults. Keeping your air cool and increasing the moisture level helps keep your skin hydrated and your nasal passages comfortable so you can get the rest you need.