Tips for choosing the right humidifier

This guide covers important things to keep in mind when shopping for a humidifier. Here's a rundown of humidifiers, and how they can be used to sooth respiratory disorders.

Tips for choosing the right humidifier

Warm steam or cold mist?

  • All humidifiers release either warm steam or cool mist. Ultrasonic devices are the exception, because many models have the ability to do both.
  • Cool mist is the way to go if you have respiratory problems. They generally soothe more and cause fewer adverse effects. Cool mist humidifiers sell for as low as $40, while some high-end models sell for $129-$250.

Regular cleaning and filters

  • All humidifiers are potential hot zones for yucky things like bacteria, mould and allergens like dust mites. Unfortunately, cool mist devices are even more susceptible to this problem. The solution is to be meticulous with the regular cleansing of your humidifier.
  • If purchasing a cool mist device (also called an evaporator), you must replace its wick filter at least once every two months.
  • Reservoir water needs to be emptied out and changed with each use, or at least once per day. And the use of distilled water is highly recommended, to prevent the buildup of things like bacteria and mould. Anything that is in the reservoir water has the potential to be released into the air in your home.

Ultrasonic humidifiers

  • These use ultrasonic frequencies, to create water droplets. You definitely have the most options with an ultrasonic, and typical price ranges from $60-$300 depending on the brand and the feature(s) offered.
  • Some ultrasonic models have built-in antibacterial features. Although these are typically the priciest ultrasonic devices, it might be worth the consideration if you are concerned.
  • Many ultrasonic humidifiers also have a built-in sensor that measures humidity in the air.

Central humidifiers

  • A less common option worth considering is the central or "whole home" humidifier, which are installed into heating or air conditioning units. Costs are lower than you would think, especially if you're handy and can do the installation yourself.
  • The biggest benefit of a central unit is that they have self-sensors to monitor humidity levels so you don't have to worry about it.

Monitor your air

  • When using a humidifier for respiratory disorders, it's all about balance. If air is too dry, symptoms can be worsened; if air is too moist, you can run into problems like mould and allergies.
  • The solution is to be diligent about watching your humidity levels; hygrometers are a necessary item to accurately monitor. (According to the EPA, the optimal humidity level for any household is 30%-50%).
  • Humidifiers can ease coughing and other symptoms; however, risk factors may exist for certain respiratory disorders regarding their use. Let your doctor be the final word.
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