According to the CDC, 1 in 12 people (around 25,000,000 people) suffer from asthma and the numbers are climbing year over year.
Asthma is a condition that causes a narrowing and swelling of the airways, generally accompanied by a surplus of mucus in the nose or throat. The symptoms of this condition range from chest tightness and coughing to wheezing and trouble breathing, depending on the severity of the case.
While it is unclear exactly what causes asthma, most medical professionals attribute this condition to a combination of genetics and environmental factors. If a family member suffers from asthma, or if you live in an overly dry or excessively humid location, you are more likely to develop this condition.
There are “known triggers” that commonly lead to asthma flare-ups, which include (but are not limited to):
- Allergens (dust, pollen, mold)
- Respiratory infections
- Cold air
- Dry air
- Excessive humidity
- Exposure to smoke
- Pain relievers (aspirin, Motrin, Advil, Aleve)
- Food preservatives
While there is no known cure for asthma, there are certain measures you can take to alleviate asthma symptoms to create a more comfortable living environment. Among these common remedies is the regular use of a humidifier, particularly during the fall and winter months.
How Does a Humidifier Help Asthma?
A humidifier releases moisture into the air to raise relative humidity levels. These devices are most commonly used to replace lost moisture in the air as a result of weather or seasonality.
While a humidifier cannot be used to treat asthma from a medical perspective, they are a useful tool that can increase air moisture to reduce congestion, soothe a dry throat, and ease coughing. Humidifiers also help to relieve cold and flu symptoms, which generally exacerbate asthma attacks.
It is always recommended to speak with your doctor before using a humidifier to reduce the severity of your asthma symptoms.
Increase Air Moisture
Relative humidity (RH) is a term you don’t hear very often, but the RH scale is crucial to your overall comfortability.
Humidity between 0 and 30% can cause dry or itchy skin, nosebleeds, dry nasal passageways, and increase your chances of contracting a respiratory infection. Humidity between 60% and 100% is uncomfortably humid. When your environment is too humid, the body has a difficult time cooling down, mold and bacteria flourishes, and you may find it difficult to breathe.
The optimal home humidity level for people with asthma is between 30% and 50%. A humidifier can be particularly helpful in the fall and winter months when winds pick up and extremely cold weather reduces the moisture levels in the air.
Using a humidifier to raise humidity levels in your home can keep nasal passageways lubricated to reduce nasal and throat irritation and reduce your chances of getting sick.
Mitigate Respiratory Infection Symptoms
Respiratory infections can cause bothersome coughing, dry throat, runny nose, and congestion in the average Joe. When an individual suffers from regular asthma attacks, the symptoms of a respiratory infection can be extremely overwhelming.
Asthmatics already suffer from excess respiratory mucus; when paired with an infection, it can be very difficult to breathe. The elevated moisture levels created by a humidifier help to clear the throat and nasal airways in a natural way, which can help to ease discomfort.
In addition to reducing respiratory symptoms, when used regularly, humidifiers can reduce the survival rate of viruses in your home. According to a Environmental Health, the use of a humidifier in the bedroom reduced influenza virus survival by 17.9% - 31.6% while the use of a humidifier in the home at large reduced the survival of influenza by 7.8% - 13.9%.
What Type of Humidifier is Best for Asthma?
If you suffer from asthma, it is imperative to choose a high-quality humidifier that will effectively address your symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
The key features you should look for when choosing the best humidifier for asthma are: a device with an effective filtration system, compatibility with essential oils, and adequate power to raise the relative humidity in your home.
Effective Filtration System
Dust, pollen, mold, and other airborne allergens can trigger asthma attacks. Unfortunately, if not properly cared for and cleaned, most humidifiers can build up mold, bacteria, or white dust and release this into the air. This is bad news for asthma!
Choosing a humidifier that has a disposable filter is the best option if you suffer from asthma to avoid any potential irritation. You may also want a device with removable components so that your humidifier is easy to clean for safe use.
Compatibility with Essential Oils
Essential oils are a wonderful natural remedy for all kinds of ailments. Oils like eucalyptus, camphor, and lavender are effective for improving respiratory conditions when diffused into the air.
Selecting a humidifier that can accommodate the addition of essential oils is a huge plus. A few drops of your favorite essential oil or a custom blend of multiple essential oils can drastically improve your overall condition.
While humidifier size matters for decor compatibility, power is the heavy-hitting feature. In order to effectively raise RH levels to reduce the symptoms of asthma, you want a humidifier that can push moisture into the entire room.
Depending on the size of the room you plan to place your humidifier, you may want a device that can hydrate a room up to 500 square feet.
Additional Health Benefits
In addition to alleviating asthma symptoms, a quality humidifier can improve many other aspects of your overall health and wellness.
The release of pure, filtered moisture into the air can provide the following health benefits:
- Delay the signs of skin aging (fine lines, wrinkles)
- Rehydrate dry skin on the face and body
- Soothe dry, irritated eyes
- Reduce congestion
- Improve allergies
- Improve dandruff and dry scalp
- Ease respiratory symptoms in babies
Adding a bit of moisture to the air in your home with a humidifier is a great solution to common health conditions and illness prevention.