For many people, a dry indoor climate due to low humidity causes a variety of discomforts--from increased risk of colds and flu to dry skin. A humidifier is a device that adds moisture back into the air, and a relative humidity of between 35 percent and 55 percent, achievable with a cool-mist or warm-air humidifier, is the most comfortable range for indoor humidity.
Colds and Flu
The cold, dry air of the winter months makes it easier for the influenza virus to survive, thrive and pass from person to person. Because a humidifier keeps indoor air moist, consider using one -- especially during the winter months -- in addition to getting influenza vaccinations for everyone in your family.
Bronchitis can develop after infection with a cold, causing symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, wheezing and fever. Bronchitis tends to resolve on its own in seven to 10 days, but using a humidifier at home can moisten the air and relieve discomfort associated with bronchitis. Adding an essential oil, such as eucalyptus or tea tree oil to the humidifier may help thin the mucus in the chest, making it easier to expel.
If you or your child are prone to nosebleeds, the dry winter air may contribute by making the skin inside and around the nose prone to cracking and bleeding. Install cold-mist humidifiers in the bedrooms and run them while you sleep to prevent nosebleeds.
People with dry skin, especially with the dermatological condition called atopic dermatitis, may find a humidifier eases the itching, burning and discomfort associated with this skin problem. Use a humidifier to adjust indoor humidity levels during summer and winter, when air conditioning and indoor heat rob air of moisture. As part of an atopic dermatitis treatment plan, doctors may recommend specific guidelines for indoor humidity.
Excess moisture in the air can increase mold and bacteria growth in your home. Reduce your use of a humidifier or change it's location if you see moisture on your windows, floors or walls.