The benefits of a humidifier as cold arrives
Winter months are upon us — temperatures will soon be lower, and humidity levels in (and outside of) your home will drop along with them.
For many, the various benefits of a humidifier can help to combat health issues caused by cold, dry air. A humidifier can make dry winter months more comfortable.
Countering the cold and dryness
According to the Mayo Clinic, low humidity levels can dry out skin and nasal passages, resulting in bloody noses, flaky skin and cracked lips. These effects might cause sleep difficulty, and can be generally itchy and uncomfortable.
A humidifier helps to increase moisture in the air, which can ease symptoms and may also reduce nasal congestion related to a cold or the flu. Adding water vapor to the air seems to make breathing easier when you have a runny nose and a dry cough.
How much humidity?
The Mayo Clinic recommended keeping the interior of your home between 30 percent and 50 percent humidity. This provides the optimum level of comfort without the downsides of excess humidity, which include mold, bacteria and dust mites — all of which can negatively impact the respiratory system and sometimes trigger allergies and asthma.
A hygrometer is a simple device for measuring humidity. This instrument can read the humidity level in your home to help you maintain an ideal amount. Some humidifiers even have a built-in hygrometer that can make adjustments automatically.
Using humidifiers safely
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautioned people on the safest way to use a humidifier. Tips include:
- Use distilled or de-mineralized water in order to prevent the buildup of mineral deposits in the machine, and to prevent minerals from being distributed in the air.
- Clean your portable machine thoroughly every three days by unplugging it, draining the water and cleaning (and drying) all parts. If you use bleach or any cleaning solution, rinse the chemicals thoroughly to prevent them from becoming airborne.
- Empty the water reservoir and wipe it dry every day, making sure to unplug the unit first to prevent electrocution.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for additional care and maintenance of your particular unit.
There are many styles (and sizes) of humidifier that can accommodate various spaces and needs. However, the machines should always be used with caution, as they produce warm steam that can cause burns.
You don’t need to suffer through dry coughs and nasal congestion this winter — a little thoughtful maintenance will allow you to maximize the benefits of a humidifier.
Image source: Flickr