Is it dry where you live? People with allergies tend to find that they experience an increase in the severity and frequency of allergy attacks in dry, warm weather. States like Arizona and Nevada have low levels of humidity thanks to the arid landscapes in the area. Combined with increases in airborne allergens, the situation leads to a disaster for sensitive individuals.
You may find yourself wondering if a humidifier can resolve the issues with dry air in your home or bedroom. The reality is that humidifiers come with pros and cons. Using them the right way can enhance the air quality in the room, but using them the wrong way can deteriorate air conditions.
This post unpacks everything you need to know about safely using a humidifier to increase the relative humidity (RH) in your home.
Using a humidifier to resolve allergy problems is a mixed bag. There are pros and cons of increasing the RH in the room. Operation of the humidifier requires monitoring the air quality to ensure it's not reducing the air conditions in the room.
If the air is dry, a humidifier can help, especially in conditions where the RH in the room is under 50%. However, if the room already has elevated RH, adding a humidifier may create unhealthy air quality conditions, inviting the spread of mold and dust mites.
However, with correct use, a humidifier can help add moisture to the air, preventi8ng the problems associated with dry air conditions in the room.
When the air gets too dry, it causes respiratory issues and problems with dry and cracked skin. When RH in the room drops below 30%, the nose and sinus dry out, and you might start to develop a sore throat and a cough.
Adding a humidifier to the air eliminates these respiratory issues.
While the humidifier can help resolve air quality problems in the room, it can also damage the air quality with incorrect use.
When RH levels in the room get above 55%, it creates problems with the spread of dust mites and mold. Mold spores and mites become active in these humid conditions, and they start to release spores or colonize.
The mites and mold can spread quickly with the right conditions, and you can expect them to start causing respiratory complications in sensitive individuals with allergies.
Studies show moderate humidity levels in the home decrease the presence of airborne pathogens like mold spores. The water vapor condensates on airborne particulate matter, settling it to the floor or walls where it dries and can't float around in the air.
Most medical facilities keep the RH in rooms between 50% to 55% to reduce infection rates. If you have allergies, ensuring the air in your home has an RH in this range reduces the frequency and severity of allergy attacks.
Humidifiers are handy to increase the relative humidity (RH) in a room. However, they might not be the best choice for people with allergies. The only time a humidifier can help is in dry air conditions; it won't help if the humidity level in the room is already 55% or higher.
Running a humidifier in the room can cause items like rugs to go moldy, releasing spores into the air that dimmish air quality and spark allergic reactions.
If the RH in the room is adequate, and you experience a problem with your allergies at night, it might be due to other factors influencing the air quality.
For instance, if you sleep in a stuffy room, the lack of ventilation can cause an increase in the presence of dust in the air. If you don't get the dust out of the room, it can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
Your mattress is a significant source of dust mites, and if you aren't using a mattress cover, the dust mites will feed off your skin cells that enter the mattress. When RH levels increase in the room, these bugs drink water from the air, causing them to spread and colonize.
Sensitive individuals start to notice an increase in allergic reactions due to the mites releasing more dust into the air. Cleaning your mattress and using a mattress cover can reduce the spread and accumulation of dust mites in your room.
If it's windy outdoors, close the windows to your bedroom. Pollen can travel on the wind, settling on your bedding and pillow. This microscopic allergen will get onto your face, and you'll rub it into your eyes when you sleep.
Closing the windows on windy days prevents pollen and dust from entering your room.
Having poor air quality in your home can exacerbate your allergy symptoms. While most allergens are non-toxic, the mycotoxins released by certain mold species, such as black mold, can cause damage to the respiratory and nervous systems.
Individuals will notice an increase in allergy symptoms with mold spores present in the air. They progress quickly into breathing complications and seizures in severe cases of overexposure to mycotoxins.
If mold is in the air, it spreads quickly through the home, and you'll probably start to notice a musty smell in the air. Unfortunately, by that stage, the mold is likely growing at an accelerated rate in several locations in the home.
Sometimes, it may be hard to find the mold, as it may grow in-between walls or in the roof in the dark of the attic. If you're having trouble finding the source of the pathogen, call MI&T for an inspection. We'll visit your premises and use the latest technology to discover the source of the problem.
We can detect mold in any room in your home, and we issue you with a full report of our findings. We can't remove the mold or recommend a removal service because we're an independent inspection company.
Therefore, you can expect an unbiased review of the air quality in your home, with no incentive to refer you to a mold removal company. You can trust the results you get with MI&T. Call us to book your inspection service today.
When you're purchasing your humidifier, you'll find that you have two options available, ultrasonic and evaporative. Let's look at the difference between the two.
The evaporative humidifier is the traditional model most of us remember from our childhood when we got sick. Mom would turn on the device, and it would emit steam into the air, helping us breathe.
These humidifiers work by boiling water into steam or blowing a heating fan over a wick saturated with water.
These models use diaphragms or impellers to vibrate the water at high-frequency, propelling the water vapor into the air. Some droplets evaporate, while others end up settling on surfaces in the room.
The exact ratio for the device depends on the room RH and air temperature. If you use regular tap water in the humidifier, you'll notice that there is a fine white powder residue on surfaces after it dries. This powder can enter the air, causing respiratory issues in sensitive individuals.
Are you on the fence about choosing between an evaporative or ultrasonic humidifier? Starting with a portable evaporative model is a good choice. Typically, they are more affordable, and they work with regular water instead of distilled water.
Using the humidifier for around ten nights gives you a good idea of its effect on your health. We recommend starting with water for the ten-day period. If you find it helps, you can begin adding essential oils to the water to see if you enjoy the experience.
Taking a few basic steps can improve the indoor air quality in your home and reduce the frequency and severity of allergy flare-ups.
As mentioned, using the right water for the correct humidifier model is critical to avoid health complications with the air quality in your room.
Keep the humidifier clean. Rinse it out every day, and check the filters once a week. It's also important to keep the room clean. Vacuum the carpets at least once a week, and make sure you have a mattress cover to prevent the spread of dust mites and dust in the room.
Don't leave the windows open in the room. The incoming air reduces the efficiency of the humidifier, and it also invites allergens into the room. Rather air the room out in the evening before you go to bed and in the morning after waking up.
Purchase an inexpensive hygrometer online and set it up in the room. The hygrometer measures the relative humidity in the room, allowing you to fine-tune the humidifier settings for optimal function and RH control.