If you’ve got ongoing sinus problems, then you probably feel like you’d do anything to get relief. If you live in a dry climate or in an area where the air gets very dry in the winter, the lack of moisture can make it particularly uncomfortable to breathe when you have chronic sinusitis.
Used correctly, a humidifier can help to ease some of the discomfort of sinusitis by raising the moisture levels (or humidity) of the air inside your home. There’s more to using a humidifier than simply filling up the tank and plugging the device in, however. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your device so you can breathe easier.
What Do Humidifiers Do?
The simplest way to explain what humidifiers do is to say that they add moisture to the air. Most humidifiers produce water vapor or mist. The devices push the vapor or mist into the air, increasing the humidity into a room without making furniture or other surfaces damp.
There’s an ideal range of humidity within the home. It’s usually recommended that the air indoors have a humidity between 30 and 50 percent. Any higher than that and there’s a risk of mold and other micro-organisms growing. Any lower than that and you’re likely to experience overly dried-out nasal passages, chapped lips and dry skin. A humidifier that’s functioning properly should help to keep the moisture levels in the air of your home in that target range.
Types of Humidifiers
Choosing a humidifier can be overwhelming, as there are many varieties available. For starters, you can choose between a central unit or a device that’s meant to be used in a single room.
Central humidifiers are built into your home’s HVAC system. You can use them to add humidity and moisture to each room of the home. Central units cost the most, but they allow you more control over your home’s humidity.
Room humidifiers are usually portable, inexpensive devices that plug into a normal wall outlet. They vary in size from very small to bulky and large, depending on the size of the room they are meant to be used in.
Humidifiers also differ when it comes to whether they produce a warm or a cool mist. Warm mist humidifiers boil the water, then release the steam and water vapor created. Cool mist humidifiers don’t heat the water.
Instead, they use rotating discs, fans or ultrasonic vibrations to creating tiny droplets of water, or a cool mist. Since there’s no risk of burns or injury if a cool mist humidifier is knocked over, they are often the type that’s recommended to families with small children.
Caring for Your Humidifier
Taking good care of your humidifier is important if you want it to properly function and provide you with the greatest benefits. One thing that’s important to do is to use the right type of water in the unit.
While you can use tap water, it’s usually best to use distilled water in a humidifier. Tap water tends to contain minerals, which can solidify on the base of the unit and can be a real challenge to clean. Those minerals can also encourage bacterial growth, which you definitely don’t want.
It’s also a good idea to change the water in the humidifier frequently, especially if you aren’t using it regularly. Don’t let the water sit in the tank for more than a day.
Clean your device often, at least once a week, if not every few days. Cleaning the humidifier removes any mineral deposits and helps to kill of bacterial growth. You can clean it with hydrogen peroxide or with chlorine bleach if you’re looking for something stronger. Just make sure to rinse the unit out well to remove any traces of bleach before you use it again.
If you plan on packing away your humidifier for the spring or summer, make sure you thoroughly clean it and let it dry before storage.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients with breathing problems in the Hudson Valley. A board-certified facial plastic surgeon and board-certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as the functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about how to treat and cope with breathing difficulties, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.