Do Humidifiers Help with Allergies?
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. An allergy happens when your immune system reacts to allergens, and they come in many forms—food, molds, insects, pollens or medicines.
However, there are many ways to prevent and relieve allergy symptoms, and one of them is a humidifier. So, do humidifiers help with allergies? We’ll find that out in this article.
Humidifiers: A History
Before portable humidifiers were even invented, earlier humidifiers were tedious to fill with water. Hospital technicians and therapists had to push carts of large distilled water bottles to refill oxygen and room humidifiers, but in November 1932, F. A. Blashfield applied for a patent for his “Gas Humidifying Device” which was granted in September 1934.
Different patents were filed in the 1950’s and the 1960’s and in 1978, the Humidilizer, a humidifier manufactured by MistO2Gen, was trademarked.
Since then, different companies have improved this device and today, the humidifier is being used in hospitals and homes to help relieve and prevent allergy symptoms.
Do Humidifiers Help with Allergies?
Dry air caused by air conditioning, heating systems or a change of weather can cause allergic reactions. It irritates nasal passages, increases mucus production, and exasperate dry skin. Therefore, it is important to have a certain amount of humidity in your home to prevent allergic reactions.
Although there are medications that you can take to relieve your symptoms, using a humidifier is a natural way to prevent allergic reactions. So, what are humidifiers?
Humidifiers are devices that release water vapor into the air to increase moisture. These machines make your indoor environment cleaner and help prevent the spread of allergens that cause allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema.
On the other hand, if you have mold and dust mite allergies, humidifiers may not be advantageous for you because these allergens thrive in a high moisture environment. Therefore, they will just make your allergic reactions worse, but there are things you can do so you can benefit from humidifiers no matter what type of allergy you have.
It is important to have proper ventilation so as not to pool moisture in the walls, curtains, and windows. So, when running your humidifier, have your window open and when you are done using the machine, make sure to air or dry it out.
Poor maintenance of your humidifier can lead to the aggravation of allergy symptoms, and bacterial growth and deposit of minerals can make your allergy symptoms worse. So, you have to clean and change the filter of your humidifier regularly so you can continue getting good benefits from it.
Use Distilled or Demineralized Water
Tap water contains high levels of minerals, and these can encourage bacterial growth. This results in the production of white dust which can lead to more sinus irritation.
Get the Right Relative Humidity or RH
Relative humidity is the percentage of moisture in the air and to measure the right amount of RH you would need a hygrometer. It is not imperative to have this but, if you suffer from bad allergic reactions, this can be helpful so you can have the correct RH that will relieve your symptoms.
Different Types of Humidifiers
Here’s a quick rundown on the different types of humidifier so that you can gain a high level understanding about what would be the best humidifier for asthma and allergies for your circumstances. For further detailed information we recommend checking out our Home Humidifier Buying Guide.
This is a cool mist humidifier that works by pulling air from the room and pushing it through the submerged moistened wick. The water evaporates and via this action creates the humidity.
This humidifier is good for warmer climates because it cools the air while it humidifies.
This humidifier comes in both warm and cool variants. This works by vibrating water into tiny particles, and then a fan releases these particles as mist in the air.
Air Washer Humidifier
This is another type of cool mist humidifier. This device has rotating discs submerged in water which eliminates viruses, bacteria, and other irritants in the air.
Although they need more cleaning, they are better than the other kinds of humidifiers because they can also filter pollens and dust.
Steam Vapor Humidifier
This humidifier works by boiling the water and then releasing it into the air as steam vapor. Some humidifiers may cause the growth of molds, but this one is an exception because it heats water high enough that it kills irritants such as mold, algae, and bacteria.
Allergic Reactions: What Are the Symptoms?
Allergy symptoms can be uncomfortable and can sometimes disrupt your normal life. So, here are the following symptoms to help you find out if you are already having an allergy attack.
If you are already experiencing allergy symptoms, you need to consult an allergist or your physician for further evaluation.
Mild Allergic Reactions
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Coughing or scratchy throat
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Rashes or cracked or dry skin
Severe Allergic Reactions or Anaphylaxis
- Difficulty in breathing
- Passing out or unconsciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of some parts of the body like, hands, face, and mouth
- Drop in blood pressure
Allergies can be a pain, and they are there to stay because, unfortunately, they don’t have a cure. All you can do is manage them so you can live comfortably and still be able to do the activities you want in spite of the attacks that may happen occasionally.
Allergy attacks can sometimes be life-threatening which is why they need to be managed properly. Luckily, there are medications, like antihistamines, that you can take and if you want to go natural, using a humidifier can greatly help.
Now, to answer the question, “Do humidifiers help with allergies?” Yes, they do, and they can really help a lot in relieving and preventing allergy attacks. However, it is important, as mentioned earlier, to maintain them regularly so they won’t cause more harm than good.
Finally, if none of the remedies you are doing are working, it is important that you consult your immunologist or allergist for some tests to find out the correct way of managing your allergies.