Do humidifiers help asthmatics or people with allergies? Well, different experts will have different responses to this. According to research results, using a humidifier could make children or adults with asthma and allergy breath easier. On the other hand, dirty mist or uncontrolled humidification will encourage allergen growth hence worsening the allergy or asthma reactions.
The delicate balance between too much humidity or too little humidity creates a dilemma that only the right asthma humidifier or dehumidifier can solve. Even though Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) certified asthmatic humidifiers might cost you more, they will serve you better than random humidifiers and essential oil diffusers you buy on Amazon or eBay
If used right, humidifiers will put moisture back into the air hence saving you from common problems like
- Allergic reactions and respiratory complications
- Increased asthma attacks
- Itchy and dry skin
- Static shock
Table of Contents
- 1 Getting the Humidity Right
- 2 Ultrasonic Evaporators VS. Steam Humidifiers
- 3 Top 8 Humidifiers for Asthma and Allergies (2017 Edition)
- 4 Whole House Humidifiers for Asthmatics
- 5 Cool Mist VS Warm Mist Humidifiers
- 6 Other Types of Humidifiers
- 7 What to Look for in a Humidifier for Asthmatics
- 7.1 Precision Humidity Control
- 7.2 Filter to Get Rid of Impurities and Allergens
- 7.3 Freedom to Purify Surrounding Air
- 7.4 Slot for Medicinal Oils and Additives
- 7.5 Easy Set Up and Maintenance
- 7.6 Size of the Humidifier
- 8 Asthmatic Humidifier Placement and Use
- 9 Get Better Convenience With Low Maintenance Humidifiers
- 10 Do You Also Need a Dehumidifier?
- 11 What is White Dust?
- 12 Conclusion
Getting the Humidity Right
All people suffering from asthma need a precise humidifier and an accompanying dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels within the acceptable range. MayoClinic recommends a humidity range or 30 percent to 50 percent. A good humidifier for asthmatics should be able to accomplish this.
Anything above 50 percent will be too high and will encourage microbes, mold and mildew growth while air below 30 percent will be too dry for you to breath.
Ultrasonic Evaporators VS. Steam Humidifiers
There are two types of humidifiers in the market. Steam humidifiers and ultrasonic evaporation humidifiers. Steam humidifiers are the cheapest and easiest to use since all they do is boil water and release steam into the air. Boiling the water deals with allergens and other microbes in the water hence reducing your chances of infection. This humidifier doesn’t address indoor impurities.
Ultrasonic evaporative humidifiers, on the other hand, use a diaphragm vibrating at ultrasonic frequency to break down the water into tiny droplets that resemble a fine vapor mist before having the fan blow it into the surrounding air. This not only humidifies the air but also helps cut down on toxic chemicals, impurities, germs and bacteria in the air. They will offer better protection to asthmatics and people prone to allergic reactions.
Below is a list of our top humidifiers for asthma and allergies. If you would like to know how to choose the right humidifier or dehumidifier, you can jump straight to the ‘how to choose’ guide below this top seven list.
Top 8 Humidifiers for Asthma and Allergies (2017 Edition)
1. Honeywell GermFree HCM350W
The Honeywell GermFree HCM350W germ-free cool mist humidifier is huge and a bit clumsy, something it compensates for with its undeniable ability to cover impressive rooms. Since it uses a wick instead of spraying mist into the room, you will rarely get that damp feel that comes with most low-end spray humidifiers.
This cool mist humidifier drops water from the tank and goes through an antimicrobial UV light and a fan that can even process hard water to prevent white dust before heading over to the wick that lifts the water up to the fan. The fan does a great job at wafting the water from the wick, creating a subtle and almost unnoticeable mist that is more than enough to bring your humidity levels up.
Honeywell boasts a 25 percent quieter performance than competitors, something that will come in handy if used in the bedroom. The three-speed setting lets you adjust the moisture levels while a sizable tank guarantees up to 24 hours of humidification per filling. You might have to replace the filters once every two months to keep everything neat and clean. This humidifier for asthmatics doesn’t work with essential oils.
2. Vicks Warm Mist V745A
The Vicks Warm Mist V745A adds some style to how you sleep at night with its soft glowing light, ultra quiet operation and automatic shut-off capabilities. The 1-gallon reservoir will hold water that can last you up to 12 hours while the medicine cup lets you use Vicks Vaposteams or Kaz Inhelents to create a soothing medicated mist.
Vicks opted to skip the whole filter idea in favor of a boil the water approach to create steam. The boiling is in itself a great way to purify the steam but the heating element and tank might get dirty over time forcing you to do thorough cleaning which might be harder than simply replacing a filter.
It’s simplicity and two level settings, one for high and another medium, not only make it easy to use but also fast to set up. A convenient carrying handle will let you carry it to the sleeping table where you can plug it in, turn on the power and enjoy the mist.
Regular cleaning will combat calcium build up on the heating chamber. Soak the heating chamber in vinegar before cleaning it with a dish cleaning pad.
3. URPOWER Humidifier
URPOWER humidifier is a 5L ultrasonic humidifier that is a whisper-quiet humidifier that is perfect for cool humidification. A black matte with silver accents makes it an excellent match to a wide range of decor plans and the 14 to 17 hours operating time depending on the humidifier setting makes it strong enough to last up to two sleep sessions.
Since it has an inbuilt filter, you really won’t have to worry about replacements. The only maintenance you will have to run is replacing the water and occasional cleaning of the water tank to get rid of stale water.
Since the URPOWER humidifier ultrasonic humidifier doesn’t filter or purify your water in any way, it is up to you to ensure that you feed it with clean water to avoid that annoying white dirt that is characteristic of humidifier steam from hard water or unfiltered water.
The auto shut off button will turn the entire humidifier off if it runs out of water hence preventing any damage. The URPOWER 5L humidifier offers a great volume of steam and it’s up to 17-hour limit is impressive enough for people targeting bigger rooms or looking for a whisper quiet humidifier for the bedroom.
4. Honeywell HUL520W
The Honeywell HUL520W MistMate is a highly portable alternative appropriate for people who want to move around with their humidifier more often. It will be a great companion in those hotel rooms if you travel a lot or in the office during those perched days.
The MistMate is an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier that packs a sizable 0.5 gallon and an efficient technology that can push the humidifier’s run time to an impressive 20 hours. A knob is all you need to turn it on and adjust the humidifier’s intensity depending on how dry the area feels.
Since it is a filterless humidifier, you will be better off using distilled water to avoid that white dust you get from hard water or a residual film in the water tank. Honeywell is keen to advice you against using tap water especially if it is not well purified.
5. Vicks UV 99.999% Germ Free
The Vicks UV uses a patented UV chamber to purify the water before converting it into mist for the humidification process. This guarantees you of up to 99.99 percent bacteria, mold and spore free results that is especially important to your sensitive nasal passages as the humidifier won’t trigger an allergic reaction or make your asthma any worse.
A medicine cap lets you use either Kaz Inhelents or Vicks Vaposteam to create a soothing medicated vapor that not only smells nice but also soothes your nose and throat. The Vicks UV first heats your water in an enclosed chamber to release the steam before channeling it to a cooling chamber where it mixes with regular room air before it is released to the environment.
The cool mist won’t affect room temperatures while the enclosed heating chamber is silent and out of reach unless you are cleaning its non-stick surface. The humidity control knob chooses different humidification levels letting you adjust for different weather and humidity needs. It is a pity that you have to control the humidification levels manually.
6. Vornado Ultra3
Up to now, all the humidifiers for asthmatics we have talked about don’t have an inbuilt hygrometer or any means of automatically monitoring humidity levels. The Vornado Ultra3 humidifier changes this by giving you a big humidifier that can also automatically regulate its output thanks to the built-in electronic humidistat.
It’s a big humidifier that uses a vortex to spread the humidity throughout the entire room. It can easily cover up to 600 sq. Feet making it a great whole room humidifier. You can run it in the living room and achieve the humidity levels you desire without having to push it so hard. This humidifier creates mist using ultrasonic vibration before using a powerful fan to push the mist straight up to the ceiling where it’s own weight evenly disperses it across the room as it falls back to the ground.
The inbuilt hygrometer lets you select the humidity level you want to attain and maintain hence making it easier to keep within the healthy 40 percent to 50 percent range without having to physically monitor everything.
A big water tank is in order to keep everything working. Don’t expect to fill the tall and slender water tank from your kitchen sink as it won’t fit. This isn’t much of a bother if you have a tap in the bathroom or a sizeable bathtub else you will have to invest in a water hose.
The Vornado Ultra3 will do you great if you are looking for something big enough to cover bigger rooms. You will, however, have to bear with the complicated cleaning procedure and the rather noisy fan the Ultra3 needs to push its mist far and wide to achieve uniform humidification of bigger rooms.
Whole House Humidifiers for Asthmatics
If the Ultra3 isn’t strong enough for you, you will be better off with whole-house humidifiers. The good thing with whole-house humidifiers is that they are designed to handle all the heavy lifting hence you can place them far away from the bedroom but still get the humidity right without the noise. Couple this with the fact that they will always have a hygrometer to automatically monitor humidity and you get convenient units that will have you covered day in day out making it the perfect humidifier for asthmatics.
7. AIRCARE EP9800 Digital Humidifier
This black pedestal styled whole-house humidifier sits at an isolated but convenient part of the house and blasts the entire house with decent levels of humidication as long as you are not living in a house more than 2,400 square feet.
You will get an inbuilt digital humidistat to automatically take care of the humidity levels and a simple LED readout that lets you see the current humidity or fan speed. You can use the three buttons to adjust the target humidity depending on your preferences.
The 3.5-gallon tank will give you an up to 60 hours run time while an inbuilt monitor will indicate when you either have to check the filter or refill the tank. Since it would be cumbersome to carry it to the tap for refilling, the AIRCARE EP9800 has a neat spout that lets you pour in the water using a jug or a wieldy container of your choice.
Be keen not to use hard water on this humidifier as this will clog the filters faster forcing you to replace them sooner that you expect. You can also mix your water with a humidifier bacteriostatic treatment agent to ensure that you get a clean and soothing steam that won’t give you any further complications.
8. Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier
The Apriplaire 700 automatic humidifier is an excellent piece of hardware that is decent enough to cover even those large sized homes. It is designed for 4,200 square feet homes and its up to 50 times more moisture production means that it will work well even in tightly woven houses.
The most amazing thing about the Aprilaire 700 is that it mimics your HVAC maintenance. Once installed, you won’t have to worry that much about maintenance. If your water is soft enough, the Aprilaire 700 automatic humidifier can run for up to a year before it requires any maintenance.
You will need a plumber to hook up the humidifier to your furnace. Letting a professional install the unit is wise since it involved intercepting the ground (G) wire from your smart thermostat and hooking up the humidistat there before tapping into the furnace’s hot water supply.
If you have some experience, you might try to save the couple hundred bucks your professional HVAC company will quote for the installation. Set aside a couple of hours and go through the installation guide to gather the necessary equipment and components for the installation.
Once you’ve overcome the installation complexities, all you will need is the controller that gives you an LCD readout and a knob to adjust the humidity. The readout will tell you the current humidity and guide you when you turn the knob to set a new target humidity level. You will have two indicator LEDs, one for ‘Call Dealer for Service’ and another that tells you to ‘Change Water Panel.’
If you are lucky enough to own an Aprilaire thermostat, you can hook it up to the humidifier and use your intuitive mobile app to control both the HVAC and the humidifier through your mobile devices.
Cool Mist VS Warm Mist Humidifiers
Cool mist humidifiers will spread a steady stream of mist at room temperature. They can either be evoparative or ultrasonic. They use an internal wick filter to bring up the water before a fan mixes it with room air before blowing it through a filter. The mist will more often than not be a very fine almost invisible mist. Since they don’t heat the water, there won’t be any hot water accidents or high electricity bills. They are especially good for nurseries and other high-risk areas. The fan can be a bit noisy though.
Warm mist humidifiers use electricity to heat the water and release the mist into the air. The heating will kill waterborne mold and bacteria hence making it safer. Since there is no fan, the humidifier tends to be more silent. You can also get warm mist humidifiers that are ultrasonic. The cost for heating might make them costly to run in large scale unless they are tapping into your furnace while mineral deposits from hard water might be a bother to clean. Check out our comparison table of humidifiers for people suffering from asthma and allergies comparison table above to identify cool mist and warm mist humidifiers.
Other Types of Humidifiers
- Evaporative humidifiers use a fan to blow air through a wet wick or filter
- Impeller or cool mist humidifiers use fast rotating discs to turn a liquid into a cool mist
- Steam or warm mist humidifiers use a heating element to turn water into steam before dispersing it into the air
What to Look for in a Humidifier for Asthmatics
Home humidification for people with asthma or allergic reactions, as we have already established, isn’t a walk in the park. You will need a hygrometer to closely monitor your humidity levels to walk the thin margin between 30 percent and 50 percent. You should choose your humidifier with precision and purity in mind. Here are the top things to consider before making the purchase.
Precision Humidity Control
Most people who believe that asthmatics shouldn’t use humidifiers peg their argument on the fact that too much moisture has worse impacts on you than a dry indoors environment. To address this, you will need a high precision humidifier that automatically manages humidity levels. This will save you the pain of having to turn the thing on or off depending on current humidity readings.
Automatic humidifiers have a built-in hygrometer that monitors room humidity levels and turns humidification on or off depending on the readings. The best humidifier units will have remote sensors to get multiple readings or readings at a distance from the dispersion area making them very accurate in maintaining an almost uniform humidity across the room. Automated humidity control is good enough. If you want more, you can look for wireless controlled humidifiers you can control from your smartphone.
Filter to Get Rid of Impurities and Allergens
All good asthmatic humidifiers will have one or two filters and a dirt reservoir. This clean up the air the humidifier sucks in to mix with the stream it releases. Filtration is a crucial part in ensuring the humidifier doesn’t contaminate your air hence making you more uncomfortable.
Buy a humidifier with replaceable filters and easy to clean working parts. Once you have such a humidifier, you should be sure to check on your filters once or twice a week to keep the air as fresh as possible. An alternative to keeping microbes and contaminants off your humidifier is by buying evaporators or steam humidifiers. These will always give you fresh steam as they heat water to create the mist.
Freedom to Purify Surrounding Air
While evaporators are a great way to keep your steam fresh and healthy, they are a bit lacking when it comes to purifying surrounding air. They might release clean steam, yes, but this will combine with allergens and mold particles in indoors air to reduce the positive effects of a humidifier on asthmatics or people with allergic reactions.
A good humidifier not only purifies the water it is using to humidify the house but also makes the air humid enough for your AC’s air filters. Bigger humidifiers that affect bigger portions of the house will be better at implementing this.
Slot for Medicinal Oils and Additives
Apart from just dispensing pure steam, you might choose to throw in some medicinal essential oils or additives to the humidifier to ensure that you breathe air that is actively soothing to your nasal passages.
Essential oils like peppermint, lavender, and clove might alleviate allergic reactions and make asthmatic bouts rare. They should, however, in no way be used as a replacement for mainstream treatment. These additives will relax your body and help you combat symptoms like wheezing, hard breathing, and chest pain.
Easy Set Up and Maintenance
Our humidifier maintenance tips emphasize on the importance of keeping your humidifier clean and its filters as fresh as possible. This means that you will have to run regular maintenance on your humidifier. This shouldn’t be a problem if you are dealing with a small bedroom, office or table humidifier.
Follow the manual’s recommendation on cleaning and filter replacement to keep the humidifier working at its optimum. In addition to this, check to ensure that the water reservoir is primed and that any other essential oils or medicinal additives are replenished in time.
A good asthma humidifier should allow you to handle all these procedures in the simplest way possible. Most will let you carry out maintenance without using any tools. Compare different humidifiers with specific attention to how easy it would be to carry out these basic tasks.
Size of the Humidifier
Finally, you will need a humidifier that is big enough to cover your area of concern. You will have to make trade-offs on cost, efficiency, noise and reach before choosing the ultimate device. Your options are tied to:
A great option if you want to cover an area of 650 to 1200 square feet. They are large humidifiers that sometimes have a remote hygrometer and even smart control to let you monitor the humidity and adjust settings from a distance.
Portable or Tabletop Humidifiers
These will fit perfectly on your bedroom, the coffee table, the office or your baby’s nursery. Since they are smaller and more portable, they are easier to set up and affordable to buy. You will, however, have to bear with the frequent recharging and refilling since the water tank tends to be smaller.
Whole House Humidifier
A whole house humidifier will extend the reach to over 1000 feet and are perfect for anyone who wants to humidify and entire house. They are, however, almost as complex as your AC and you will need a professional to install and run regular maintenance. The great thing is they don’t require frequent refilling or filter replacement as the smaller units.
Asthmatic Humidifier Placement and Use
People suffering from asthma and allergy need a tight control over their immediate environment. This is why whole air conditioning systems with inbuilt humidifiers rarely work that well. This doesn’t mean that you cannot tap into the convenience of whole house humidifiers. All you have to do is get something that gives you modular control and freedom to clean working parts more often
- If you are going small, invest in a table humidifier and place it on your bedside table, office desk, kitchen counter or coffee table
- Ensure that you don’t place your humidifier in a damp or wet place
- Leave some room around the humidifier to allow for even dispersal of the steam from the nozzles
- Use soft water to make your cleaning work easier
- Replace your filters more often than the manual advises you to
- If your humidifier has a remote humidity sensor, place it in a natural position, around the place where you will be seated
Get Better Convenience With Low Maintenance Humidifiers
Maintaining your humidifier at its best working condition is time-consuming. Sometimes, most people will forget to refill the water or the filter hence rendering the humidifier useless.
Whole house humidifier systems are bigger and their filters can keep working for longer. Moreover, they are directly plugged to the plumbing hence you don’t have to fill them up every now and then.
If you cannot invest in something that big, look for a humidifier for asthmatics that spreads out the maintenance periods and has a way to remind you of the next maintenance time. This will help you keep your system in working condition without even thinking about it.
Do You Also Need a Dehumidifier?
Asthmatics living in very humid areas will need a dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity in check. These mostly come into play during the cold months of the year when everyone so keeps on warming up the house and keeping the excess water out.
Excessive moisture buildup will encourage the growth of mold and mildew that will increase the chances of getting an allergic or asthmatic attack. Our guide to choosing the best dehumidifier will help you make the right choice within the shortest time possible.
What is White Dust?
White dust are those tiny mineral particles that make their way to the air when broken down from hard water. The white dust settles on furniture around the humidifier. Even though it isn’t harmful, it is a bummer to clean and could even trigger reactions to highly allergic people.
The best way to avoid dust is by using demineralization cartridges using distilled water to fill up your humidifier.
A good humidifier for asthmatics that is well maintained will keep the humidity levels within the favorable margin hence reducing the number of attacks, allergic reactions and ensuring that you sleep more comfortably at night.
Maintaining the right humidity throughout the entire house is not only good for you but also good for furniture, hardwood floors and other house fixtures. Moreover, the right humidity makes HVAC filters work better at trapping pollen, dust and other particles in the air. The result is a cleaner environment that is healthier and more forgiving on your nasal passages.
A small table humidifier will do you good if you don’t want to invest in the more convenient whole house humidifier or want something portable that can stick by your side. If you can afford it, go for the whole house units as they are more reliable and will keep running as long as you service them once or twice a year. No water replacement or constant switching on or off to maintain humidity levels.