Is A Cool Mist Humidifier Good For Asthma? Doctors Say It Can Help
Is a humidifier good for asthma?
A humidifier adds moisture to the air in the form of mist. This makes the air easier and smoother to inhale. The air does not irritate or inflame your airways and it won’t hurt your lungs.
Again, if the air is too dry, it could trigger an attack. So, humidifier and asthma relationship is about finding a balance – just the right humidity level for your home.
According to an article posted on Mayo Clinic website, if used correctly, a humidifier can really help with asthma.
How the best humidifier for asthma works
Before you can buy a humidifier for a child with asthma, you need to know how it works.
If you have been thinking about what you should get between dehumidifier or humidifier for asthma, this information might help you.
First, you might want to avoid ultrasonic humidifiers because they cause white dust.
1. Humidifier and asthma – Know how it works
First, it is about the air that we breathe. A humidifier enhances the amount of moisture in the air. This makes the air smoother and easier on the airways.
If you are asthmatic and you inhale air that is too dry, it irritates the nerve endings in the lungs and the airways. This leads to inflammation, which causes the airways to be constricted.
This is why there is wheezing during an asthma attack. The reason for this is that you struggle to get enough air. This is why there are about thousands of asthma emergency cases every day.
Will a humidifier help with wheezing? Will a humidifier help with congestion?
In a severe attack, the airways can clog up almost completely allowing minimal air to get into the lungs.
Since blood coming from the lungs carries oxygen to other parts of the body, it means some organs will not have enough oxygen.
2. Consult your physician before using a humidifier
Of course, it is wise to first ask your physician whether you can use a humidifier or dehumidifier for asthma.
You should also seek to know what is better between a warm mist or cool mist humidifier for asthma.
The answer will most likely be yes, you can. However, it never hurts to be doubly sure when your health is hanging in the balance. When it is about your health, you know it would be better to err on the side of caution.
As to the question of how a humidifier helps with asthma, well, there are many things to consider here.
One of them is that asthma is triggered by cold air. In the winter months, the air is most likely going to be cold.
But that is not all there is to it. You see, in winter, the air is cold and dry too. That is why we use humidifiers in winter, to moisten the air and make it smoother and bearable for our lungs.
Cold dry air is going to rough up your nerve endings in the airways. This causes an inflammation and in return, this triggers an asthmatic attack.
However, when you use a cool mist or warm mist humidifier, it releases some moisture into the air. This makes it easier on the nerve endings, and does not trigger an asthmatic attack.
3. Understand the common triggers for asthma
There are many triggers. They include exercise, peanuts, indoor allergens such as animal fur, dander, dust, mold spores and even pollen.
It is important to understand that buying a humidifier is good for an asthmatic person. However, it is not all that there is to it.
The best thing to do is avoid the asthma triggers. It is not always possible, but you can do it. You have to live with meticulous care all the time though.
One of the triggers is cold. Dry, cold winter air is a serious trigger for the asthma symptoms. Using a heater/HVAC system makes the air warm, but not moist!
In fact, the HVAC sucks all the moisture from the air, leaving it warm and dry. Warm and dry air can still irritate your airways, this precipitating an asthmatic attack.
Thus, even with heating going on, you still need that humidifier. It will spray a fine mist into the air so that you inhale well-moisturized air all the time. Such does not irritate your airways.
4. Always keep the humidifier clean
Care and maintenance of the humidifier is very important. If you do not clean it often, it will create a good environment for germs and bacteria to thrive.
Mold spores can trigger an asthmatic attack. These thrive when they find a moist and dirty environment.
Since the humidifier is already moist, all it takes for mold to start growing is heat. There is a lot of dirt lingering all around in your house from dust. Exposure to this fungi can cause mold toxicity signs in people and pets.
Another thing that you can do to prevent the thriving of bacteria is use distilled water which does not leave mineral deposits on the sides of the tank.
These deposits are notorious for allowing bacteria to thrive. When you start running the humidifier, the same bacteria are then dispelled through the mist and you take them in.
The following is recommended for cleaning the humidifier tank:
- Follow the instructions of the manufacturer for cleaning the humidifier
- Clean the tank after every three days or twice a week
- Use a hydrogen peroxide solution – 10 percent hydrogen peroxide the rest water
- Rinse the tank completely to get rid of any chemical remnants
- Change filters from time to time, use demineralization filters or those recommended by manufacturer
- When you have to keep the humidifier in storage, clean and dry it completely, keep it in a dust-free space
5. Choose the right humidifier
Not every humidifier out there is best for asthma. Thus, you have to choose yours with care. You can buy a whole house steam humidifier on Amazon.com. There, you will find more variety, and better prices.
Besides, you will also find a lot of information about the humidifier and you will know just why it is recommended for asthma.
Contrary to what many people believe, the choice of your humidifier does not really come down to cool mist vs warm mist humidifiers. There is more to it than that.
Here are the best humidifiers for asthma:
Warm mist humidifier
This one is very common. It boils water and then the filter releases fine steam into the room. It can help keep a room warm as well as increase humidity in the air. However, it is only suitable for small rooms.
The good thing about a warm mist humidifier is that as the water boils, it also kills bacteria and allergens. Thus, the steam released is pure and unadulterated.
However, there is a downside to it. First, it is a hazard for a children’s room. The boiling water can do a lot of harm. Thus, it is best placed in a position where children cannot reach it.
Another thing you have to know is that a warm mist humidifier should mostly be used with water that has low mineral content.
The boiling leaves a lot of mineral deposits on the side of the tank. Thus, a warm mist humidifier requires more frequent cleaning.
Ultrasonic evaporator humidifiers
Ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers use a diaphragm that vibrates at ultrasonic frequency, causing water to break into minute droplets.
These droplets are then blown out of the humidifier as a fine cool mist by the humidifier. The mist softens the air and makes it easier to inhale for people with asthma.
Cool mist humidifiers
Usually, these are the most recommended humidifiers for your home. They have fewer risks and they do not require more frequent cleaning. Scale does not build up on the walls of the tank.
Cool mist also contracts the walls of the airways thus creating more room to pass. Warm mist can cause the walls of the airways to expand thus reducing the amount of air that passes through.
5. Keep the humidity at 43% or above
The main reason for this is to avoid flu and colds, which trigger asthma attacks. Research has shown that the flu virus can survive in lesser humidity, but if you get the humidity level to 43 percent, it will not survive.
Thus, when a member of the family contracts flu, raising the humidity level will protect the other members of the family from the virus.
If you live in cold and dry places, you should get a humidifier. A warm mist humidifier should be a good choice for you because it will help dispel the cold too. Besides, in the boiling process, many viruses will be killed.
Of course, the optimum humidity level can differ from place to place, with some places requiring higher, and with some requiring low.
What we mean is, if your place has 50 percent humidity, you cannot very well go running a dehumidifier to lower the humidity level, can you now?
Another thing that you should know is that too much humidity can cause mold growth, paint peeling and keeping the house in a constant state of dampness.
Experts recommend to keep the humidity at 50 percent maximum. If it goes any higher than that, it could be more harmful than helpful.
6. Tank capacity and mist time
No one wants to have to add water to their humidifier after every couple of hours. Thus, you need a humidifier that has a long mist time.
For a small room, a humidifier with about 18 hours of mist time would be awesome! OK, perhaps even 15 hours and above is not so bad, but the longer the better.
Check the size, usually indicated in gallons. A 3-gallon humidifier can run for up to 16 hours of cool misting time. This is a good amount of time as it means you will just have to refill it once a day.
Most people ask whether it is OK to run a humidifier 24/7. The answer is yes, no problem at all. Continuous operation is not bad at all. The truth is you need good air whether you are sleeping or awake.
The bigger a humidifier is, well, the bigger the room where you can use it. The best small humidifiers are good for small rooms.
There are even big, whole house humidifiers for the entire house.
If you are asthmatic and you travel a lot, you will want a small humidifier that you can travel with. You can buy portable humidifiers on Amazon.com or any other online marketplaces.
7. It should have a humidistat
Nothing beat a humidistat when it comes to maintaining an optimum level of humidity. What this means is that when the set level of humidity is achieved, the unit switches off. That means two very important things:
- You will not over-humidify the air that you are breathing
- You will save on your energy bill because it only runs when there is need
When the level of indoor humidity starts to fall, the humidifier switches back on again.
Even if you have the humidifier in baby’s room and you are at work all day, you can be sure that the baby will enjoy the optimum humidity level all the time.
8. Care and maintenance
I know we talked about cleaning a cool mist humidifier for asthma as much as possible, or as recommended. However, there is more to care and maintenance than just cleaning.
One of the things that you are looking for is a humidifier that is easy to disassemble and put back together.
9. Noise level
We have said that a humidifier for asthma can run on all day and night. This means that you will probably have to sleep with the humidifier on.
Please note that the best humidifier for asthma is also good for anyone else. Thus, you do not have to buy different types of humidifiers.
However, the noise level is a concern. Thankfully, manufacturers took note of this concern a long time ago. Thus, today, humidifiers are very quiet.
Even though they come with some noise, it is what is referred to as white noise, which actually entices you to sleep. Babies can also sleep through this noise.
Before you buy a humidifier, just read a couple of reviews left by other users, taking special note of their noise concerns.
10. High quality filtration
Filtration in a humidifier is a very important component. It removes contaminants from the air.
These contaminants are some of the indoor allergens like dust mites, pollen, bacteria, germs, viruses and others that can trigger asthmatic attacks. However, a humidifier with good filtration system can filter all these contaminants out.
However, you do not only want a humidifier that removes contaminants from the air. You can get one that can filter all these contaminants from the water too.
As an asthmatic, you want to inhale air that is as pure as possible.
So, finally, is a humidifier good for asthma?
As you have seen here, it really does help! Also, choosing the best humidifier for asthma is not hard at all.
Just ensure that the filtration is topnotch, the ease of maintenance, noise level and other factors should be fine.
Whether you want a small cool mist humidifier for a small space or a big humidifier for the whole house, there is one for you in the market.