What Is the Purpose of a Humidifier?

Humidifiers are helpful if you suffer from health-related conditions caused or made worse by dry air. If you suffer from asthma, frequent nose bleeds, cracked lips and sinus pressure, a humidifier could be helpful in alleviating your symptoms. People who are suffering from colds or bronchitis can also find relief from using a humidifier.

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Function

Humidifiers treat dry air by releasing moisture, making it easier to breath and soothing your dry throat and nose. Unlike a vaporizer, which emits hot steam, humidifiers put cool to lukewarm moisture into the air. This cool air is easier to breathe than hot steam, which is more beneficial for congestion. Some people have humidifiers built into the central heating and cooling systems of their houses, while others have portable units they keep in their bedrooms for use when the air is particularly dry. Some people don't like the portable units, however, because they can be quite noisy.

Humidity Levels

According to the Mayo Clinic, the ideal humidity level in your home should be between 30 and 50 percent. In most places, the overall humidity will be higher during summer months and lower during the winter, making the colder months, the time you will need a humidifier the most. If the humidity is too low in your house, your skin may feel dry and your eyes may itch. Using a humidifier can help alleviate those symptoms.

Hazards

Keeping your humidifier clean is extremely important. While hot steam vaporizers are hot enough to kill germs, the cool and moist conditions of a humidifier are the perfect breeding ground for some molds and bacteria. If you allow this mold and bacteria to grow, the humidifier will send particles into the air which may get you sick or trigger asthma or allergy attacks. People with dirty humidifiers can suffer from flu-like symptoms and even lung infections, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Cleaning

Use distilled or demineralized water in your humidifier rather than tap water, as the minerals in tap water can lead to the growth of bacteria. Cleaning out the entire humidifier with hydrogen peroxide every three days will also stop the growth of bacteria and mold. Finally, make sure the area around the humidifier stays clean also. If you notice the area around it is getting too damp, use the humidifier less or turn it down.