Allergy & Air on October 23, 2014 2 Comments Individuals living with asthma are well aware of the precise balance of humidity they require in the environment to breathe properly. If the air is too dry, one set of symptoms will crop up, and if the air is too humid, a whole new set of problems is ready to appear. While asthma is a chronic condition that should only be treated by doctor-prescribed methods, there are a number of benefits in humidifiers for asthma afflicted individuals, so long as the unit is carefully selected for its environment and properly maintained. How Humidifiers Help Asthma Symptoms Asthma is a disorder that affects multiple aspects of the breathing system. This is why it is so dangerous to suffer a sudden flare-up. Not only is there a constriction of the breathing muscles, but the suddenly-inflamed airways and an increased amount of thickened phlegm all striking at once can cause the asthmatic individual to feel as if they cannot breathe; in severe attacks the individual may literally become unable to breathe. By using humidifiers, these symptoms of asthma can be kept in check, and may help limit the number of asthma attacks within the home. By easing the discomfort of a dry throat, nose, and mouth through humidity, the asthmatic individual’s mind is put to ease, and thoughts of a flare-up can be pushed to the back of the mind. With humidifiers, a more comfortable level of breathing may be possible for those with chronic breathing issues. Humidifiers provide moist air at the precise desired temperature, which is not only one of the most effective ways to keep airways free, but is one of the most natural ways as well. Nasal sprays and over-the-counter medications can open anyone’s airways, but they also provide a wide range of additional effects not found in clean, pleasantly humid air. If you are suffering from asthma and want to breathe easy without worrying about dosages, then humidifiers may be able to help. How to Humidify? The Right Model for You There are many different models of humidifiers available on the market today, so researching the different vapor delivery methods, their benefits, and their potential issues is important to securing the humidifier that best suits your needs. Here is a closer look at some of the most common types of humidifiers for asthma. Steam Vaporizer: Once the most dominant style of humidifier on the market, this model heats the water within until it boils, and the steam is vented into the room. These can be effective humidifiers if the asthmatic individual prefers a warmer humid environment, but due to the heated tank, they are also the model one must be most attentive with keeping clean. Warm Mist Vaporizer: Similar to the steam vaporizer, a warm mist humidifier creates steam, but then cools it to the point that its output is slightly heavier and not as hot – hence, a “warm mist.” These are useful humidifiers for asthma if the temperature of the humidity needs to be as exact as possible, especially when paired with central air or heating. Cool Mist Humidifier: These electric devices can function in a few different ways. Some models have a rotating disk, or a fan and wick system, that disperses mist into the air. Other top of the line models use ultrasonic frequencies to vibrate the water into smaller molecules. Whatever method, cool mist humidifiers produce a cool mist, and therefore makes the air feel cooler. Since there is no heating element, they use significantly less energy, the ultrasonic variety using the very least. The effectiveness of each model does not only depend on the desired temperature of the humidity. The size of the room or rooms to be humidified will also affect the style you need. Cool mist humidifiers tend to affect a wider area than steam humidifiers, but those suffering from asthma should consult the packaging of each individual model to achieve the desired effect. One consideration to make is the installation of a humidifier onto your central furnace. By using a single humidifier to directly add moisture to the dry air exiting the furnace’s exhaust, you could avoid the purchase and maintenance of multiple units within the home or apartment. Maintenance is the Key for Controlling Asthma Symptoms The only way that a humidifier can benefit an asthmatic individual is if it is properly maintained. Humidifiers that are not properly cared for can become a breeding ground for mold, viruses, and other bacteria; and for those already susceptible to breathing problems like the asthmatic, these things can become downright dangerous. Here are some important guidelines for asthma suffering individuals to remember. Use Pure Water — The quickest way to introduce pollutants to your humidifier – and one way that many users overlook – is to directly pour the water tainted with mold or bacteria into the humidifier’s input. When adding water to the unit, make sure it is either distilled or purified water. Keeping pollutants out of the tank is the most effective way to prevent your humidifier from being damaged. Keep It Clean — Humidifiers for asthma should not contain standing water when not in use. Empty and thoroughly rinse the humidifier every day, and if storing your humidifiers, make sure to fully dry out the unit, by hand where possible. This way, you will not need to clean the unit with any harsh chemicals, which can sometimes trigger asthma attacks. Go to the Light — Some higher-end humidifiers for asthma feature ultraviolet (UV) lights in the unit to prevent the growth or spreading of mold and fungi. This can be especially useful if the humidifier is left on for extended periods; the longer the water is heated, the more likely it is to become contaminated. Don’t Overdo It — While the benefits of a newly-acquired humidifier can sometimes lead some asthmatic individuals to crank up the unit until the room is like an indoor tropical zone, too much humidity can be as bad for one’s breathing as overly dry air. Rely on a hygrometer or humidistat to determine the humidity levels of each room. Anything above 45 percent is considered too high, and is not effectively safe, as these levels will lead to rampant mold and fungi growth if left unchecked. By selecting the proper humidifier for your environment and taking proper care of your appliance, you too will hopefully see the benefits of humidifiers for asthma.