Can a Humidifier Cause Shortness of Breath? Yes, It Can

Disclaimer: The content in this post is intended to inform only. It does not purport to take the place of a doctor. If you experience chest tightness, please see a doctor as soon as possible.

Well, it is hard to say, but it is always a good idea to investigate keenly. For instance, if the chest tightness occurs when the humidifier is running, well, yes, it is causing the congestion. This can reduce the oxygen getting to your lungs.

Most people also ask: Can humidifiers cause chest tightness? Ideally, they should not. Not in healthy individuals, anyway. But strange things have happened, and there is also humidifier fever.

A humidifier is a good appliance to have at home. But it also comes with its share of downsides. You can check out our article on humidifier sickness symptoms.

You can also check out a second article on signs of mold in a humidifier. If mold grows inside the unit, it will be dispersed with the mist. If you inhale the air, it will make you sickly.

Chest tightness will manifest the same way congestion does. The American Lung Association says that while humidifiers are good, too much dampness in the air can cause serious health problems.

When can a humidifier cause chest tightness?

humidifier causing chest tightness

Many things could cause breathing issues. However, if you suspect that any appliance that you are running is the problem, you can try to isolate the causes.

Here are reasons why a humidifier might cause chest tightness:

1. If you have asthma

When you have a family member who suffers from asthma, too little or too much humidity is bad for their airways.

If the air in the house is dry, the delicate tissue along the airways becomes irritated and easily inflamed. On the same note, when there is too much dampness in the air, the airways could become inflamed.

Inflamed airways can make asthmatic people feel worse, and it can affect how well they can breathe. If the asthmatic cases get worse when the humidifier is running or after running it, to be sure, just switch it off and see what happens.

Even the best humidifier for asthma can still affect a person’s breathing ability.

2. If you have allergies

can humidity make your chest feel tight

A runny nose, nasal congestion, and wheezing when breathing are some of the most common signs of breathing allergies.

Such allergies may affect children in their younger years, and they might go away later or develop into long-term conditions such as asthma.

Of course, when you have allergies, you can look for a humidifier that is made specifically for people with allergies.

However, the most important thing is not the appliance itself. It is what it can do. For instance, the humidifier should maintain the required humidity levels.

Even if you get the most expensive and advanced humidifier, but fails to maintain a proper balance, it is not much help.

Indoor allergens such as dust mold trigger allergic attacks, and there are many of them. Other allergens include dust, smoke, dander, hair, dust mites, and others.

The body feels as if it is under attack, and it compensates by overproducing mucus. This mucus makes it hard for air to pass through the airways.

Also, for a child who has breathing problems, some types of humidifiers can be bad. For instance, an ultrasonic humidifier produces white dust.

While this white dust is not harmful to a healthy person, for a person with a breathing problem, it can escalate the issues.

If your children have watery, itchy eyes, runny noses, or wheezing when breathing, ask a doctor whether it is okay to use a humidifier in their room.

Also, it is best to ensure that the child does not have bronchitis, pneumonia, or other chronic conditions.

Therefore, if the child has breathing problems after you run the humidifier, consider seeing a doctor first.

3. If you have chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis happens when the membranes inside your nose stay inflamed for more than 90 days. If this happens, you will have trouble breathing when the air is too dry or when it is too damp.

The reason why it gets even more uncomfortable is that when the air is too dry, you turn on the humidifier, and it starts releasing mist into your indoor air. If there is too much dampness, you switch on the dehumidifier, which makes the air dry.

Thus, whether you turn on the humidifier or dehumidifier, you could end up experiencing breathing difficulties.

The drainage of mucus is affected. In that case, it is hard to breathe properly. If you have been diagnosed with sinusitis, got treatment, and it refuses to go, it is chronic.

If you feel pain around the eyes and feel congested, it is most likely a case of sinusitis. You need to keep away from allergens such as dust, smoke, fur, and others.

4. If the humidifier is dirty

Image of are humidifiers bad for you

A dirty humidifier can cause you many problems, and humidifier chest tightness is one of them. Because humidifiers contain water, they create a good environment for mold, germs, and bacteria to grow.

Since they release mist into the air, the occupants of the room inhale the mist, germs, and all.

If the air has germs, they can make breathing hard for a person who has breathing problems. Even if the breathing problem is not too bad, a dirty humidifier can make it worse. Contact with mold can also cause signs of mold exposure in children, and many hospital trips.

Luckily, there is a solution for you. You can clean your humidifier with vinegar. You can also clean it with bleach.

However, make sure the vinegar and the bleach do not mix because they create a poisonous gas. After using either of these products, rinse the humidifier thoroughly.

If you have someone with breathing problems in the family, clean the humidifier more frequently. You can clean it every two days, or if you can, clean it daily.

Just use soapy, warm water. You can use the same mild soap dish that you use in the kitchen. If you have humidifier disinfectant, it can help.

5. The water you use in the humidifier

water you use in the humidifier

If you experience your humidifier causing chest tightness, you might want to try different types of water.

There have been cases where people reported throat irritation after running the humidifier. However, after changing to using distilled water, the irritation stopped.

If your tap water has too much mineral content, it will cause white dust. It might also cause breathing problems.

You could also experience aching in your lungs! But it is always better to rule out other possible causes before you can heap blame on the humidifier.

Does a humidifier help with a tight chest?

If you experience chest tightness, the first thing is to see a doctor, especially if it persists. However, before you do that, try this simple troubleshooting.

First, you need to look at your hygrometer to see the current humidity level. A tight chest can be one of the signs of sleeping in dry air.

If the humidity is below 30%, that is dry air! You need to raise the humidity some more to between 30 and 50%.

If you experience static electricity when you are wearing your clothes, that is a sign of dry air. It is probably inflaming your sinuses and airways. That’s why you are experiencing chest tightness.

If the humidity reading on the hygrometer is high, you need to lower it. Not only does high humidity result in mold and mold toxicity symptoms, but it also causes havoc in your airways.

Inhaling air that’s too moist will cause the airways to dry up to counter this “wetness.” If that happens, you will experience tightness in the chest.

Can humidity make your chest feel tight?

If there is high moisture content in the air, it is going to cause wheezing and breathlessness.

According to an article on Medical News Today, there is a strong link between asthmatic attacks and high humidity levels.

In fact, in the article, the writer expressly says you should avoid exercising in humid weather if you are asthmatic.

Any change in the “density” of the air that you inhale could cause serious asthmatic attacks. You can never be too careful if you are asthmatic.

It is even worse if there is high humidity and high temperature! The airways become constricted, reducing the amount of air getting into your lungs. This can trigger serious coughing fits.

Before you go out, check the dewpoint to know how humid the day will be. Remember, outdoor humidity affects indoor humidity.

Does high humidity cause coughing?

Does high humidity cause coughing

Inhaling air that has too much moisture can cause serious coughing fits. There is no doubt about that! What happens is that the damp air causes the airways to constrict, thereby reducing their size.

Thus, not enough air gets to the lungs. This causes wheezing, breathlessness, and eventually coughing.

This does not happen only to people with asthma. It can happen to everyone, especially if you get too active in humid weather.

Also, high humidity makes dust mites thrive, as well as mold and other types of fungi. This fungus produces mold spores, which can cause serious sickness symptoms.

Control your indoor humidity levels, and you will be rid of these health problems.


Those are the five possible reasons for a humidifier causing chest tightness. Following this, you might ask: Are humidifiers safe?

They are very safe. However, for a person who suffers from breathing problems, too high humidity might cause extra difficulties.

Avoid using humidifier additives of any sort if you experience breathing difficulties. While a drop or two of essential oils in a humidifier does not hurt, when you experience breathing difficulties, just use plain water.

You can also use a demineralization cartridge to prevent white dust from the humidifier.