What Is Healthy Humidity
Most people find that a relative humidity between 30 to 60 percent is the most comfortable, with indoor humidity ideally between 30 to 50 percent.
Low levels of humidity lead to very dry air which increases the prospect of catching airborne viruses like the flu, possibly due to both their ability to survive longer in dry cool conditions and irritated nasal passages making it easier to catch them. Eczema can be exacerbated and dry skin can also be uncomfortable.
Higher humidity in the home creates an environment for two of the most common and undesirable triggers for asthma and allergy dust mites and mould.
Dust mites like moderate temperatures and high humidity . They are found in bedding, flooring, window coverings and furniture. Their poo is the main culprit and is small enough to become airborne when stirred up.
Mould needs long periods of humidity to grow. Houses in tropical areas or with rising damp may be more at risk. Poor ventilation may mean a bathroom or built-in robe can produce mould, even if not in humid areas.
So how can I control the humidity in my home?
There are a number of ways that you can help control humidity levels in your home, depending on where you live and your climate.
Or it could be as simple as opening the window!
If you want to know the relative humidity in your home, a hygrometer will tell you. These are fairly cheap instruments they are sometimes incorporated with thermometers or clocks.
Do I Need A Humidifier Or Dehumidifier For Asthma And Allergy
June 25, 2020 By Lidia Wassenhoven
Asthma is a chronic disease condition that affects the airways of the lungs and the symptoms are similar to those caused by allergies. People living with asthma have inflamed airways that can become even worse if something triggers the symptoms. Asthma is incurable, but you can manage it. This article tells you all you need to know about asthma and if you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier for asthma and allergies.
Asthma causes the inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs. They also produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult for air to pass through. Symptoms of asthma present themselves as periodic attacks characterised by the tightness of the chest and difficulty in breathing.
Now, asthma is characterised with difficulty in breathing. When something triggers your asthma symptoms, it makes it difficult for you to breathe correctly. You start coughing and wheezing, and you develop shortness of breath. An increase in physical activity sometimes causes this.
Asthma affects 1 in 13 people worldwide. According to CDC, more than 25 million people in America have asthma. This means 7.7% of adults and 8.4% of children in America have asthma. That is how prevalent the disease is. Asthma attacks can be controlled by taking medication or by using a quick-relief inhaler.
Ways Humidity Affects Asthma
Allergens, chemicals and strong scents are common triggers for the almost 25 million Americans with asthma. But high humidity can be just as troublesome.
People with asthma have inflamed airways that are sensitive to things that may not bother other people. Thats why humidity, and all that comes with it, can be a problem for people with asthma.1 Here are some reasons why.
1. Humid air feels harder to breathe in. Some believe moist air is heavier and harder to breathe. Heat and humidity usually occur together. So when the air is harder to breathe, your body temperature can go up, causing you to sweat. This can lead to dehydration, which can make you breathe faster. All of this combined can trigger asthma symptoms.
Consider spending time outdoors in the mornings or evenings when heat and humidity levels tend to be lower. This can be especially important if you exercise outdoors.
2. Humidity can mean extreme temperatures. Since humidity usually is highest in the summer, extreme heat can aggravate your airways, just like extreme cold air can. Asthmatic lungs tend to be more sensitive to extreme temperatures.2
Sudden changes in temperature can affect your lungs too. If youve ever left a dry, cold air-conditioned building to go outside into hot, humid air, you know the change in air and temperature can be quite a shock. If you have asthma, the sudden change can actually cause an asthma attack.
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What Does A Humidifier Do For Your Asthma
A humidifier can help to keep allergies and asthma flare-ups away as well. The function of a humidifier is to add water vapour to the atmosphere in your home or the place it is kept. The addition of water vapour will improve the moisture content in the air around you and stabilise the humidity levels bringing it to the ideal relative humidity level.When you have dry air around you, it can cause dry skin and nasal passage, irritation in the airways, leading to allergies, and even aggravate asthma symptoms. When the indoor humidity level is maintained using humidifiers, you get to relax in a comfortable environment that is free from allergens and also safe to breathe in.The reason for caution here is to use the device properly. A humidifier may do you harm if the device is not monitored or maintained. This is because, humidifiers are very much capable of adding excess moisture into the air which will lead to high humidity. An environment that has high humidity is home to allergens and causes hindrance to the lungs and skin breathing. Therefore, keep a close eye on how much moisture the humidifier adds to the air. Ensure that the device is kept clean, to prevent it from spreading air bore diseases and allergens. A humidifier can surely be of service to keep allergies and asthma attacks away when one learns to put it to use correctly.
Humidity Levels Your Health And Your House
According to the Mayo Clinic, low humidity can cause dry skin, nasal and throat irritation , and even lead to itchy eyes from dryness!3 Dryness of the upper airways probably hints that, while not mentioned specifically, the airways in our lungs could be drier, too, so while too much humidity is also a problem for many with asthma, balance is important! Lower airway dryness can lead to irritation, potentially making lungs more twitchy when exposed to an asthma trigger.
Its not just us humans, but our houses that can be negatively affected by low humidity. Many of us know that humidity that is too high in your home can lead to condensation and mold growth. However, potential structural damage to woodyes, the very frame of your home!can result from too much drying and low humidity levels, resulting in potential cracking. Wood floors and furniture are also prone to damage from humidity exposure that is too low.4
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Asthma And Humidity Level: Can A Low Or High Humidity Triggers Asthma
The humidity levels in your home can play a big role in your breathing quality. Humidity is how much water vapour is present in the air. Humidity levels that are too high or too low can affect us in different ways.
It has been found that a healthy level of indoor humidity is about 30% to 50%. Anything higher can cause faster growth of microorganisms like dust mites and mould, which are 2 of the most common allergens. If it is too low, it can cause dry skin, dry and cracked lips and throat and sinusitis.
While very high humidity may cause nasal congestion and difficulty in breathing, especially for asthmatic patients, low humidity has its issues.
When the air is too dry, it causes the mucous membranes in the sinus to dry up. This causes the sinus to become irritated and increases your chances of catching a cold or flu.
Also, viruses are more likely to survive longer in dry air than in humid air. Very low humidity can increase feelings of congestion and make breathing harder, thereby triggering some asthma symptoms. To avoid this, during periods where the air is very dry, for example, winter, increase the humidity level in your home using a humidifier or vaporiser.
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How Humidity Affects Asthma
There are a few ways in which heat and humidity can affect breathing in people with asthma:3,4
- Hot, humid air is harder to breathe in. Moist air feels heavier and denser. Hot outdoor temperatures seem to magnify this effect.
- Humidity can activate sensory nerve fibers in the airways. These C-fibers are thought to narrow the airways and stimulate coughing.
- Hot, humid conditions provide the perfect breeding ground for asthma allergens. Dust mites, mold, and pollen are all common triggers for people with allergic asthma. Those allergens love hot, humid conditions.
- Heat and humidity raise ozone levels. Ozone is the culprit in air pollution. Humidity makes the air stagnant, trapping pollutants such as car exhaust, as well as pollen and mold spores.
In addition, extreme changes in temperature can be a trigger when you have asthma. Think about what a shock it can be when you walk out of a cold, air-conditioned building into suffocating outdoor heat.
Hot, humid indoor air can also make it harder to breathe.
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How To Protect Your Lungs On Hot And Humid Days
Heat and humidity can affect your breathing, especially if you have asthma or COPD.
On very hot, humid days, especially days that have high levels of air pollution or smog, stay indoors. Find an indoor place thats cool. Make sure the place you choose has clean air this means no tobacco smoke or harsh scents. If your home is not air conditioned, go to an air-conditioned public space, like a recreation centre, public library, or shopping mall.
Some things to remember when it is hot and humid:
Bottom Line: Dehumidifier Or Humidifier For Asthma And Allergies
Using a humidifier or dehumidifier for asthma and allergies largely depends on the current level of humidity in your home. It also depends on the season. During seasons of very high humidity, a dehumidifier might be your best bet. It reduces the humidity in your indoor air to an acceptable level.
During periods of low humidity, a humidifier increases the humidity in your home and alleviates the symptoms of dry air. As long as its used correctly and cleaned regularly, there wont be any danger of spreading allergens.
The choice of humidifier or dehumidifier also depends on your region. If you live in an area with a temperate or arid climate, the best humidifier fir asthma and allergies is a better choice. Meanwhile, if your region has a high humidity level, the best humidifier for COPD, asthma and allergies is more useful.
You can also use both. Use a humidifier during periods of low humidity and a dehumidifier during periods of high humidity. Whatever you do, the goal should be to keep the humidity level at a healthy level so as not to trigger your asthma and allergies.
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How Does High Humidity Affect Vocs
Humidity affects the presence of VOCs in your home a number of ways. We typically use activated carbon in our homes to filter out unwanted and dangerous VOCs from entering our air. High levels of relative humidity, however, significantly reduces the performance of these activated carbon filters. This has the effect of letting in more VOCs than normal, certainly a terrible consequence of high humidity.Perhaps more alarmingly, an increase in humidity also increases the concentration of VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are nearly omnipresent in our daily lives via the chemicals used to treat common household items. They exist in paints, carpeting, composite wood, upholstery, air fresheners, etc. Your own babys crib could be a hotbed of VOCs and toxins from the pressed wood it was built with, to the glue its held together with, and with the paints its decorated with. When the relative humidity increases in temperature, these VOCs are released in higher amounts from these different sources.This means that a high humidity not only allows more VOCs in, but allows more chemical off-gassing to occur. Definitely horrible news for your familys health.
What Type Of Humidifier Works Best For Asthma
If youre looking to buy a humidifier to help with asthma symptoms, youll need to know what type will work best.
There are two types of humidifiers for your consideration:
- Warm mist or steam humidifiers Also known as vaporizers, these are the humidifiers most recommended when it comes to asthma. Because the water inside reaches a boiling temperature, most microorganisms are eliminated in the process. However, its still advised that you regularly clean the humidifier regardless.
- Cool mist humidifier This type of humidifier uses a motor to agitate the water, which creates a mist that is then dispersed through the room via a fan or natural air currents. Because the water isnt heated, theres a greater chance for bacteria and mould spores to enter the air. Subsequently, this type of humidifier requires more frequent cleaning.
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Lifestyle Tips For Asthma
Keeping your homes air at an appropriate humidity level may help, but its not enough to control asthma completely.
If you have asthma, your doctor has probably prescribed controller and rescue medications for you. Its important that you follow your doctors directions and continue to use any asthma prevention medications you are prescribed, even when your symptoms are under control.
In addition to taking your prescriptions, these tips may help you to better manage asthma:
- Identify and avoid asthma triggers, such as pollen, animal dander, and dust mites.
- Do not smoke or vape.
Beat The Heat: 9 Tips For Managing Your Asthma In The Summer
Theres beautiful weather, and then theres melt your ice cream, instant sunburn kind of weather. Changes in temperature like heat waves are known to trigger asthma symptoms in some people.
Knowing how to manage your asthma in these conditions will help you avoid asthma symptoms and enjoy even the hottest summer days. Here are some tips to get you through even the worst summer scorchers.
1. Plan Ahead
Dont let the heat catch you off guard. There are many ways you can get ahead of the hot weather, such as by checking the Pollen Count and your local Air Quality Health Index before venturing out and starting your day. If there is poor air quality or a high pollen count, it may be best to stick to indoor activities.
2. Be Prepared
When temperatures soar and you find yourself experiencing asthma symptoms, you want to have your reliever medication on hand. No matter the weather, keep your asthma reliever with you. You never know when asthma symptoms may strike, especially in extreme heat.
3. Be Smart
If you know youre going to be outside when its stifling out its best to be smart about it. Keep your asthma medications out of direct sunlight and out of places known to get too hot, such as the glove compartment of your car. Your medication should stay close by and cool.
4. Stay Cool
5. Stay Inside
6. Have an Action Plan
7. Be Early
8. Stay Hydrated
9. Have A Chat
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Tips To Decrease House Humidity
Much of the humidity in the house results from our own lifestyle habits. There are a number of things we can do to decrease humidity in the house.
While doctors used to recommend that patients move to warm dry climates that you find in places like Arizona and New Mexico, but air conditioning and dehumidifiers have largely made these recommendations a thing of the past. You can now control your microenvironment in the home at a relatively low cost. However, you do not want to make the air too dry.
While too humid air can lead to increases in dust mites and other triggers, a relative humidity of less than 15% can lead to a significant cough for asthmatics. Drying out the mucous membranes of your respiratory system may place you at increased risk for infections from viruses and bacteria due to decreasing natural defenses from the common cold virus or influenza. Dry mucous membranes also may aggravate allergy symptoms and make your asthma symptoms worse.
Does Indoor Humidity Matter
Absolutely. We often measure humidity in two ways: absolute humidity and relative humidity. Absolute humidity is a measurement of how much water is in the air depending on its temperature. Relative humidity, however, is a percentage measurement of the humidity in relation to the maximum humidity for that temperature.The most common measurement for our homes is relative humidity, and its preferable to keep it between 25% and 55%. Problems arise when our homes humidity levels dip below 25%, or rise above 55%. Considering we humans can spend up to 90% of our time indoors, it is absolutely critical to keep an eye on the relative humidity of the environment around us.
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What Is The Ideal Humidity Level
Unfortunately, its not just as easy as buying a humidifier to make things better.
There are several other things to take into account, and one of those is achieving the right level of humidity.
Ideally, the humidity level in your home should be between thirty and fifty percent. Too little humidity and youll notice that you start having dry skin, eyes, nose, and throat.
However, too much humidity will result in condensation on the windows and walls, a general atmosphere of stuffiness, and the perfect breeding ground for mould, bacteria, and mites all of which can prove seriously detrimental to anybody with asthma.
In order for a humidifier to actually help with asthma, you need to make sure that youre not over-or under-humidifying.