Humidifier Sickness Symptoms To Watch Out For

Can humidifiers make you sick? A dirty humidifier can have serious repercussions.

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If the answer is yes, what are the humidifier sickness symptoms to look out for?

But look here:

Most home appliances are built to enhance your indoor comfort. Or to make jobs such as cooking easier.

But they do have downsides. They consume energy, and some, such as dehumidifiers or their humidifying counterparts can make you feel sick.

Can humidifiers cause lung problems?Yes they can. Too high humidity is not good at all.

Well, these appliances add moisture into dry air to prevent you from experiencing breathing difficulties, dehydration, and dry skin.

Can cool-mist humidifier make you sick?

Yes it can.

Unlike their warm mist or evaporative counterparts that boil water and can kill mold and bacteria, cool mist units use cold water. Therefore, the cool mister is more likely to make you sick.

Although these diseases can affect healthy people, it is more problematic for people with allergies and asthma as well as children.

If you humidify your indoor air, you may be concerned whether you are sick. Tell you what, if you don’t feel sick, you are not sick. Only dirty and unkempt appliances causes sickness.

But just in case you have been late with your appliance maintenance ….

Symptoms of humidifier sickness

Please note that these symptoms are common with other diseases too. In this case, you need to rule out other causes first before you can blame the gentle appliance in your bedroom, office or living room. The indications are as follows:

Flu-like Symptoms 

Can humidifier cause cold? This is a very common question.

Are you getting flu-like symptoms such as shortness of breath?  If you haven’t cleaned your humidifier, then you should check it out. Such include high temperature, coughing, chills, and headache.

Even if you know other things caused your flu, if you have not cleaned this appliance, clean it. You may use humidifier when sick with a cold or other illness, unless it is asthma.

Another thing, humidifier causing sore throat is unheard of. Actually, it helps with sore throat because it the moist air is soothing as it goes over the inflamed throat tissue.

Allergy flare-ups

Fungi, mold spores and white dust can cause allergic reactions. Therefore, if your allergies are triggered, check the humidifier. If it hasn’t been cleaned for a while, then it could be producing these allergens.

If you experience humidifier causing chest tightness, you could be getting an allergy flare-up. You need to turn it off for sometime.

Sinus blockage

Sinus infections cause sinus blockage because of breathing in pseudomonas bacterium from the humidifying tank.

If you get sinus blockage and this appliance is running, try moving away or turning it off. If the blockage disappears, then it is time to give the humidifier a thorough cleaning or replace it.

Lung infections

Can a humidifier make your chest hurt? If you have asthma, a humidifier can make it worse. It can cause the airways to inflame, which would cause chest tightness in return.

If you inhale white dust, you could end up with lung infections. White dust comprises of mineral deposits emitted by humidifiers if you put tap water in the reservoir. To prevent this, you should only use distilled or demineralized water.

One such lung infection is legionnaires disease. It is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella pneumophila, which is found in static water storage.

Its symptoms include high temperature, headache, coughing, mental confusion, diarrhea and muscle aches.

Humidifier Fever

Humidifier fever/lung is one of the bacteria in illnesses. You can get it if you inhale vapors that have bacteria.

So, if you don’t clean your unit, you will end up with colonized bacteria which when emitted with the mist causes fever, which is a viral lung inflammation.

Symptoms include fever, body aches, cough, chills, inflammation of the lung, shortness of breath and malaise.

If you notice these symptoms, clean or remove the humidifier. If you don’t, the illness can become chronic with symptoms such as loss of appetite, lung disease, lung scarring, weight loss and respiratory infections.

Asthma attacks

Ideally, your humidifying appliance increases moisture and eases breathing especially in people who have allergies, asthma and children.

However, when the unit releases dirty mist, which has fungi, bacteria and mold, it can trigger an asthmatic attack.

Therefore, if you are asthmatic and using a humidifier, you were alright for a while, but you start getting asthmatic attacks, check the unit. It could be dirty and producing the fungi and mold that are triggering the attack.

Coughs and Colds

This is one of the dangers of humidifier.

If you are catching coughs and colds, it could be your humidifier spreading it. These are some of the bacteria in humidifier symptoms. The coughs are caused by bacteria that grow when the unit is dirty.

Image of humidifier sickness

How Do You Keep the Humidifier Clean?

When the humidifier is clean, it does not impose the danger of causing illnesses. Here is how you can keep your unit clean.

Daily cleaning

This can help with the humidifier dangers.

Clean the unit every day and not later than three days using warm water and dish soap. Scrub the reservoir to remove deposits. Avoid using disinfectants since they cause more problems such as lung injuries.

If you use disinfectants such as chlorine bleach, rinse the tank thoroughly so that you don’t end up inhaling harmful chemicals. Alternatively, you could use white vinegar, which is safer as a disinfectant.

Replace the water daily

Empty the reservoir, dry it and refill the water. This will prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria since they need stagnant water to thrive. It will prevent mineral deposits and film from developing. This is more important for ultrasonic and cool-mist humidifiers.

Only fill the tank using de-mineralized or distilled water. You should not use tap water because it may contain minerals that become white dust when released into the air.

Monitor the humidity level in your home. You can use a hygrometer. The recommended humidity level is 50% or below. Too much moisture in the air can make your home to become the breeding ground of spores and mold.

Replace the filters at least every two months or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Clean the area where you keep the humidifier

The area around humidifiers should remain dry. If you see any wetness such as on the wall, table, windows, or carpets, reduce the frequency of use or turn it down. Damp places can be breeding points for mold and fungus.

Clean your unit even when not in use

Clean and dry the unit before storage and after removing it from storage. If you store a dirty and wet unit, you are giving the microorganisms time to multiply.

These will affect your family when you start using it again. Clean after storage to get rid of any harmful microorganisms that may have harbored in it.

Humidifier Sickness Symptoms FAQ

It can be disheartening that an appliance designed to keep you safe can cause illness. But when water stays for long in closed spaces, protozoans, sometimes unidentifiable, can grow.

They will then be dispersed with the tiny droplets of water (mist), into your space. To help you understand this better, here are the more frequently asked questions:

What is humidifier fever?

Also called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, this is a kind of lung fever that affects you when inhale air that is contaminated with some bacteria variants.

Some of the common humidifier fever symptoms include lung inflammation, coughs, fever, body aches, chills and shortness of breath. These should go away after a few days when you clean your humidifier

Is humidifier fever contagious?

In most cases, humidifier lung is not contagious. It only happens when a person inhales the infected air but it rarely passes from one person to another. If the humidifier is not cleaned with bleach to kill the causative agents, continuous exposure might cause an immunity compromise, in which case a person might catch other contagious illnesses.

Does humidifier fever go away on its own?

Once you clean the humidifier and kill the mold spores and the bacteria, the symptoms of humidifier lung start to go away. They will disappear on their own after two days.

Can you get sick from a cool mist humidifier?

You can if you do not clean it. Any humidifier that you do not clean can allow bacteria to grow in the tank. It will then disperse these with the mist and you will inhale them and get humidifier fever. Such can also cause a musty smell.

What are side effects of humidifier?

There are several but the most common of them include humidifier sickness if you do not clean your unit. Too much humidity can also cause allergy flare-ups and runny noses. Your unit can also be notorious for cause the growth of mold which can damage your clothes, walls, and make you sick.

How do you treat humidifier sickness?

If you clean your humidifier regularly, the symptoms of humidifier sickness will disappear on their own, in two to five days. To kill protozoans that cause diseases, clean with white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or bleach. Remember, you should never mix bleach and vinegar as they cause a poisonous gas.


Humidifiers may change their role from that of preventing illness to that of causing it. If they are not cleaned and maintained correctly, the units can cause many respiratory diseases.

These include coughs and cold, flu, allergic reactions and lung infections. Stay alert for any of the humidifier sickness symptoms.

However, this need not happen. It is possible to use a humidifier and not get sick. Start by cleaning the unit properly, using distilled water, replacing filters and replacing the water daily.

You can get a good humidifier such as GENIANI Portable Mini Humidifier on It is easy to maintain and it is very effective.

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