A humidifier is an electrically powered device that increases the humidity, or moisture, in the air. Most humidifiers work by pouring water into a container inside the humidifier. You then plug in the humidifier and turn it on. This causes a diffuser or heater to break the water up into small particles or steam. They then release that water vapor into the air.
Some larger buildings employ “whole-house” humidifiers that increase the moisture level of the air throughout the entire building. Examples of buildings that use these whole-house humidifiers are offices and condos. Medical offices and hospitals can also use humidifiers to increase the comfort of the patients. This is especially helpful for patients with breathing and lung difficulties.
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air, and it plays a role in both the development and treatment of allergies. Allergic rhinitis, for example, often manifests as nasal congestion, irritation, and inflammation of the delicate, moist tissues of the nasal mucosa. Breathing higher humidity air is one way to relieve the discomfort and unpleasant symptoms of allergies and drug treatment side effects. Reducing inflammation of irritated nasal tissues can provide quick relief for those with nasal allergies. An added benefit of introducing more moisture to the air is that your newly moistened nasal tissues can now fulfill their job of expelling potential irritants and allergens from your nasal cavity, reducing your allergy symptoms. Those with sensitive skin issues, such as eczema, can experience some relief with a humidifier.
One extremely common allergenic culprit is house dust mites. These creatures can only thrive at humidity levels that exceed a certain level. Mold is another common cause of allergies. It also benefits from a high humidity level. It’s important to find an ideal humidity level that eases allergy symptoms and allergy-induced asthma, but isn’t so high that it encourages dust mites to flourish.
It can be tricky to discover your personal ideal humidity level. Lower humidity levels help ensure that dust mites and mold can’t thrive. They can also reduce indoor air pollution. But, higher humidity is far more comfortable for the tissues of the throat and nasal passages. The trick is to strike a balance of maintaining indoor air that’s neither too damp nor too dry.
Humidity, also known as relative humidity, is a measure of the amount of water vapor (or precipitation) in the air. While it can range from 0 to more than 100 percent, the relative humidity in indoor environments usually ranges between 20 and 70 percent.
House dust mites are nearly invisible creatures that recycle dead skin cells. They live wherever humans live. The enzymes in their waste become airborne. You eventually inhale these enzymes, which provoke allergies.
House dust mites thrive in higher temperatures (75 to 80°F). They also flourish in high humidity in the 70 to 80 percent range. It’s nearly impossible to eliminate house dust mites and their droppings. However, you can control their numbers by controlling humidity levels. The mites can’t thrive at humidity levels below 50 percent.
Modern humidifiers typically feature a hygrometer. A hygrometer is a device that measures the humidity in the air. You should choose a setting between 40 and 48 percent humidity. This will establish a balance between dust mite control and comfortable and moist air your skin will love.
Your best option is a point-of-use humidifier. These household appliances are usually portable. They’re capable of humidifying the air in one to several rooms. They feature a water tank, which you must refill regularly.
The most common type is an evaporative humidifier. This is also known as a cool mist humidifier. This type of humidifier uses a reservoir, wick, and filter to spread room temperature water vapor through the air. You can program some models. You can also find a model that has a hygrometer. A hygrometer is useful for maintaining an optimal humidity level. You must change filters regularly to avoid mold overgrowth and mineral saturation from tap water.
Other types of home humidifiers include vaporizers (which produce steam), impeller humidifiers, and ultrasonic humidifiers. Impeller and ultrasonic models may deposit minerals on nearby furniture. This is because they don’t use a filter to remove minerals. This deposit appears as a fine dust. Vaporizers are effective, but they use much more energy than an evaporative humidifier.