Do Humidifiers Help With Allergies?

Updated
Updated

If you suffer from allergies, you likely have tried a variety of methods to reduce your symptoms. One way to manage allergy symptoms is by using a humidifier in your home. Humidifiers will release steam or vapor into the air and raise humidity levels in your home.

If you’re considering a humidifier to help with your allergy symptoms, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider. In this blog, we’ll talk about how to find out what humidity level is right for your allergies, what type of humidifier you need, and how humidity can relieve your allergy symptoms. Read on to learn more, or get an at-home allergy test from Wyndly to start your journey to allergy relief today.

Humidity’s Role in Allergy Treatment

The proper humidity levels can help with your allergy treatment, but what humidity level is right for you? That depends on what you’re allergic to and what symptoms you have.

You may want to keep humidity levels slightly lower if you’re allergic to pet dander, dust mites, or mold. Dust mites and mold can thrive in high-humidity environments, while pet dander will stick to surfaces, skin, and hair when humidity levels are higher. Of course, you don’t want the air to be too dry. This makes the air less comfortable for your skin, throat, and nasal passages.

A comfortable humidity level can help relieve allergy symptoms by keeping nasal cavities and throat tissue moist. This makes it easier to expel allergens from your system. If you’re prone to skin irritation and eczema from your allergies, it’s imperative to have comfortable humidity levels. Your symptoms may worsen from dry air, further aggravating your skin issues.

As you can see, getting the right humidity levels in your home is tricky. In general, you want to see your humidity levels at around 40% to 50%. You can lean toward the low end of that spectrum if you have indoor allergies and the higher end of the spectrum if you have pollen allergies.

It’s smart to have a humidity sensor so you can monitor humidity levels and make adjustments as needed.

How Do Humidifiers Work?

The humidifier is a simple yet effective device. Humidifiers add moisture to the air with mist or water vapor. All you need to do is fill the reservoir with water when it runs out. You’ll want to get a humidifier that is the right size for your space. Humidifiers vary in size and features, but a good humidifier should have an antimicrobial filter that prevents mold and bacteria growth.

While humidifiers won’t treat your allergy symptoms, they can make your environment more comfortable and relieve some sinus inflammation and irritation. Humidifiers are best for homes where the air is dry. If your home is already humid, a humidifier will only add to that. In that case, you may need to get a dehumidifier. 

Different Types

When you’re choosing a humidifier for your home, you’re going to come across an array of options. The first thing you should figure out is what type of humidifier you want, then you can start looking into details like brands, features, and budget.

Warm vs Cool Mist

Generally, humidifiers are in one of two categories — warm and cool mist humidifiers. Both have their own sets of pros and cons.

Warm mist humidifiers release warmer temperature water into the air. These humidifiers tend to be the quietest, and they’re best for small spaces. Warm mist is also good for soothing inflammation. Warm mist humidifiers are best for cold climates. A word of caution: The mist can sometimes be hot when it’s released, so this might not be the best choice for households with small children and/or pets.

Cool mist humidifiers are easier to clean, but they also need to be cleaned more often. Generally, these humidifiers are best for large spaces and warm climates. Some people say that cool mist is a little more comfortable to breathe in.

Evaporative

Evaporative humidifiers are cool mist humidifiers. A fan is used to circulate humidity through a wick at the bottom of the device. These devices don’t generate heat, so they’re safer for children and pets, and they’re self-regulating. Evaporative humidifiers will need frequent cleaning to prevent bacterial growth.

Air Washer

Air washer humidifiers also use cool mist. They combine a humidifier with an air purifier, saving you from having to buy both devices. They use submerged filter discs to remove bacteria, viruses, and irritants like pollen and dust from the air. These humidifiers need frequent cleaning, but the benefits they offer may be worth the extra maintenance.

Ultrasonic

Ultrasonic humidifiers create vibrations using a metal or ceramic diaphragm to create moisture. This moisture is then expelled into the room as mist. Ultrasonic humidifiers often allow you to set the temperature for cool or warm mist and can be pre-programmed. This is a great option for someone who wants to have a humidifier year-round. Ultrasonic humidifiers need to be cleaned frequently, and they can be more expensive than other options.

Steam Vapor

Vapor humidifiers are warm mist humidifiers. They heat the water to a high temperature until steam vapor is created and released into the air. You can also add essential oils to these systems if you choose. The high temperatures make it difficult for contaminants like mold and bacteria to grow, so cleaning isn’t needed as frequently. Keep in mind that the high temperatures may make vapor humidifiers more dangerous for homes with children and pets.

Using Humidifiers the Right Way

Buying a humidifier is the first step, but you need to use it correctly if you want it to help you with your allergies. As we mentioned, you want to ensure that you’re not allowing your environment to become too humid. If you reach humidity levels of 70% mold, mildew, and dust mites will be able to thrive, so you should shut your humidifier off if humidity levels are getting too high.

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that humidifiers need to be cleaned and maintained. When you neglect regular cleaning and maintenance, bacteria, mold, and fungi will be able to grow in your humidifier. This will release these contaminants into the air and cause you more problems. Change your filter regularly as well.

If you’re new to using a humidifier, here are some steps you can follow to ensure your humidifier is clean:

  • Rinse and dry your reservoir after using your humidifier.
  • When you’re regularly using your humidifier, use a vinegar solution to get rid of hard water and mineral buildup. Also, if the manufacturer recommends a disinfectant, use that once a week.
  • Always do a thorough cleaning before storing your humidifier for any length of time.
  • When taking your humidifier out of storage, do another thorough cleaning.

You don’t want to have a dirty humidifier. This can make allergy symptoms worse, defeating the purpose of having a humidifier in the first place.

What to Do if a Humidifier Doesn’t Help Your Symptoms

Humidifiers can help keep the air in your home comfortable and clean, but they’re not a treatment for allergy symptoms. Humidifiers can only provide short-term relief and temporarily manage your symptoms. In most cases, they’re not enough to manage symptoms on their own, with allergy sufferers needing OTC allergy meds to help get their allergies under control. OTC allergy meds are also a short-term solution, so if you’re looking for lifelong relief, sublingual immunotherapy might be right for you.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

If you’re looking to get long-term relief from your allergies and treat them instead of just managing them, you may want to consider sublingual immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy is a painless form of immunotherapy that you take by mouth from the comfort of your home. By introducing small, gradually increasing doses of your allergen to your immune system, you can retrain your immune system to ignore these substances for lifelong relief from your symptoms.

Take Our Allergy Assessment

If you’re tired of dealing with miserable allergy symptoms, then let Wyndly help you find relief. After you take your at-home allergy test, our doctors will create a personalized treatment plan to address your specific allergies.

Take our allergy assessment today to find out if Wyndly is the right choice for you.

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