Living in a dry climate comes with its own set of challenges. You’re less likely to worry about mold and termites. But, the winter months can be brutal for your respiratory system. Running a heater or wood stove might combat the chill, but it also makes your already dry living environment even drier. What if they air were less dry? Can a humidifier help with allergies?
The result probably sounds familiar. Chapped lips, dry skin, bloody noses, and increased allergy symptoms all come with the territory. However, you might not know why your indoor allergy symptoms seem to get so much worse during the winter. This also comes down to humidity.
The natural defense mechanisms you have in place in your oral and nasal passages rely on moisture. In a dry environment, it is more difficult for your body to catch and efficiently get out unwanted allergens and germs. Fortunately, a humidifier may be able to provide you with some relief.
Using a Humidifier to Combat Allergies
So, can a humidifier help with allergies? Yes, it can help reduce the severity of your symptoms. Still, it is a balancing act. It pits your environmental needs against those of the most common household allergens. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology suggests that you should aim to increase your household humidity to 40% without ever exceeding 50%.
Once you’ve increased the average humidity to 40%, you should notice a dip in symptoms as your nasal passages regain moisture. A humidifier will not totally solve your allergy problems. But it can make you more comfortable by increasing the moisture in your throat and nasal passages. By doing so, the humidifier will improve your body’s natural ability to block and expel allergens.
You will almost certainly still have noticeable symptoms, as the humidifier isn’t removing allergens from your environment. However, you will be less likely to experience those sneezing fits that make you absolutely miserable. At least, as long as you maintain your humidifier.
Why You Have to Be Careful
Unfortunately, two of the most common household allergens also love the humidity. Dust mites and mold will reproduce easily in an environment with higher than 50% humidity. To prevent the growth of harmful allergens, you should regularly monitor the general humidity in your home. Always adjust your humidifier to keep it under 50%.
Additionally, allergens can easily overtake your humidifier. If so, it will blow them directly into the air if not cleaned properly. To prevent this, the Mayo Clinic suggests:
- Only using distilled water in your humidifier
- Cleaning it every three days
- Replacing the filter regularly
- Making sure you store it properly when not in use
How to Clean Your Humidifier
To properly clean your humidifier, the Mayo Clinic suggests that you start by picking up a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution at your local pharmacy. You will want to start by unplugging the humidifier for safety. Then clean the tank and all other components with the solution. If you notice any mineral build-up, make sure it is completely removed.
Once the tank is thoroughly cleaned out, rinse all inside components with water. You want to ensure that the solution is completely removed. You do not want cleaning chemicals being pumped through your humidifier. Refill the tank with distilled water, as suggested in the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you need to put your humidifier into storage, then you must allow it to completely dry out before being put away. Seal the machine as much as possible once it is dry to prevent mold and dust from making its way into the tank and other components.
Allergy Expert NYC
Dr. Mayank Shukla provides top-quality allergy treatment in New York. If your allergies are out of control, schedule an appointment to learn about how we can help you. We understand the negative impact allergies can have on your like. Everything from sleep to daily activities can be affected. For all problems allergy-related, Dr. Shukla is here to help.