It is true that when the temperature drops, people neglect their hydration, but is it just the cold that hampers our hydration or could we benefit from better all year-round hydration. A lack of proper hydration can lead to a whole host of health and beauty issues that can otherwise be easily avoided.

Poorly hydrated air can cause the following symptoms:

  • Increased spread of colds and flu;
  • Accelerated symptoms of allergy;
  • Painful, dry, or even bleeding nasal passages;
  • Sore throats, cracked lips, and dry eyes;
  • Itching skin.

People’s immediate reaction to the question of proper hydration is always the intake of fluids; plenty of filtered water or a lovely green tea. Whilst upping the intake of fluids is good for hydration. But there is another more passive, sometimes-overlooked solution that helps to form part of our overall hydration and that is air humidifiers. An air humidifier is a simple, inexpensive device that can be placed anywhere around the home or office which emits moisture into the air. Humidifiers allow you to control and monitor the humidity levels within your home or office with ease. There are many advantages which are often overlooked, or that people are not aware of. Because of this, we thought that we would highlight what does a humidifier do, so you are better informed. Enjoy.

What do humidifiers do?

Reduce infection

Coughs and sneezes transmit Colds, flues and other infections. In fact, 70 to 80% of viruses are transferred this way. The transmission of airborne diseases is heightened in low air moisture environments. Moist air is denser and therefore, more difficult for viruses and bacteria to spread through it. Medical studies show that a humidity level of 43% or above will drastically reduce the spread of airborne viruses that are known to cause infection. Air with a higher moisture content creates an environment that is inhospitable to the flu virus. And by maintaining a relative humidity level of between 40 and 60%, it is less likely that flu germs will settle on surfaces such as kitchen worktops, tiled areas, and bathroom sinks when compared to environments with lower humidity.

Another surprising benefit of moistened air, particularly during night hours, is the benefit to our oral health. Our mouths get drier or even wholly dried out because we are breathing in dry air, this dryness in the mouth is a sign of a lack of saliva. Saliva is needed in our mouths because it helped wash away harmful bacteria and food particles that can remain in our mouth after we have eaten.

The absence of or low levels of saliva in our mouth is not helping our oral health as it allows bacteria and food to particles to remain in our mouth. This is particularly prominent at night and can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay if persistent. The good news is that breathing in clean, moisten air helps support saliva production which can be particularly advantageous when we are sleeping.

The benefits that humidifiers bring, in terms of reducing infection, are superb. Given this, humidifiers are excellent for babies and toddlers as they can keep the child healthy by reducing the risk of disease. Babies and toddlers are at increased risk of illness and infection due to their new and developing immune system. Humidifiers are a natural and healthy way protecting babies and toddlers for increased risk of bacterial infection while their immune systems develop.

Eases congestions

Higher moisture content will also elevate the symptoms of congestion such as the temporary elevation of chest congestion, comforting a sore throat and help to calm itching or dry skin.  Dry air causes mucus to dry out and become thicker, stopping it from flowing correctly. Mucus that is not flowing on means that the sinuses can become clogged and don’t drain correctly either. This causes nasal passages to block which leads to other issues such as stuffy nose, painful sinuses or a sore throat. This shows that lower moisture in the air can make a slight congestion feel much worse.

So, if you are unlucky and catch the flu, increasing the air humidity levels will help elevate your symptoms.

Reduces allergens

As well as increasing the level of moisture, humidifiers can also purify the air. Many models of humidifiers have antimicrobial and air purifying filters which are excellent for reducing the symptoms of allergies by eliminating allergy triggers from the air during the purifying process. For best results use distilled or demineralized water (particularly if you live in a hard water area) as this will stop any potential bacterial growth in your humidifier.

To maximise the benefit of the antimicrobial and air purifying filters fitted in modern humidifiers, it is essential that they are adequately cleaned and maintained regularly. Maintaining humidity levels between 40 and 50%, for example, is the ideal range to stop dust mites.

Fasten healing time

As we discussed humidifiers can significantly reduce the transmission of cold, flu and infections transmitted by air. What you may be surprised to learn, in addition to this is that they can also speed up the recovery or healing time if you do catch a nasal infection, cold or flu. Maintaining the correct humidity will sooth the nasal passage and throat, allowing nasal passages to be unblocked. This will reduce sneezing, coughing, and help with breathing if you have a nose throat or chest infection. Overall this will improve your healing time and make you feel more comfortable in the process.

Skin benefits

For anybody who has been out in the cold, you will almost certainly be familiar with that stretched, dry and sometimes itching feeling on your skin. It can also occur around the lips, nose, ears and worst of all on your scalp. This dry and itchy scalp can be unpleasant and irritating, it can also become flaky if not treated. Bleeding can also occur as a result of over scratching itchy areas.  These symptoms are all caused by a lack of moisture. There are an untold number of products on the market that can moisturize or hydrate skin once applied, generally through the application of oils that lock in moisture. However, there is a much more natural way to get your skin feeling smooth and hydrated and that is through the air.

Hair benefits

You may also be surprised to know that very dry air causes static electricity to build up in fabrics and textile. An increase in static electricity can result in static shocks when you come into contact with these areas of increased static. Did you ever wonder what causes your hair sometimes to go too frizzy and have a mind of its own? Well, you may be interested to know how static electricity is the cause of frizz in your hair?  The static electricity is passed to your hair either directly as a result of the low moisture in the air or through contact with the fabrics that the static sticks too. 

Raising the moisture content in the air will put back that essential, naturally occurring moisture into your skin and hair and reduce static electricity levels in clothing and fabrics.

Prevent headaches

Headaches and migraines are caused by fluctuations in oxygen levels and air pressure. If your brain does not receive the amount of oxygen it needs, it may not work correctly which can result in headaches. Barometric pressure (the combination of air and water pressure in the atmosphere) or more specifically, changes in barometric pressure (up or down) are what causes headaches and migraines. This is because your brain is not receiving the correct amount of oxygen, it overcompensates by making blood vessels expand or contract compressing nerve fibers and cause headaches.

We cannot control humidity level outside, however, inside we can use humidifiers to evenly regulate the barometric pressure in your house, which prevents the onset headaches and migraines. For those that suffer regular headaches or migraines, a simple solution such as the use of a humidifier can have a significant impact on helping to resolve their frequency.

Protects your voice

Do you ever wonder why sometimes you wake up in the morning with a dry mouth and croaky voice? The answer is simple. This is because you’ve been inhaling too much dry air while you have been sleeping. Breathing dry air for prolonged periods dries out your throat and can cause you to lose your voice. For people in professions that require you to be vocal for long periods of time, routinely losing your voice can lead to voice fatigue. Croaky, broken or hoarse voice can become a problem, particularly if it can require regular coughing or clearing of the throat to remedy.

Voice fatigue can be remedied or avoided by resting your voice, drinking plenty of water and hydrating your throat/vocal chords with a humidifier.

Helping houseplants

Houseplants are a beautiful addition and part of making a house a home. In the same way that everything else in your home is dried out by low moisture levels, houseplants are too. All plants need water and they don’t just get this from the ground, plants also extract water from the air. Much in the same way as other things that will be dried out in your home from low humidity, plants will also suffer. Most plants, especially houseplants, prefer levels of humidity between 40 and 60%. Maintaining this level humidity will keep them healthy and happy, both physically and in their appearance.

Happy and health house plans work more efficiently at doing their job of removing carbon dioxide from the air and increasing the levels of oxygen.

Improves sleep

Dry air disrupts sleep by drying out the nose, throat, and mouth which leads to feeling uncomfortable, causing unrested, disrupted or broken sleep. Dryness of the mouth and throat are particularly acute during the night because this is when the body produces less saliva than in the day. 

Dry air can also sometimes lead to nosebleeds or sneezing while you are sleeping. We all know that there is nothing worse than a poor night sleep and after all, what’s the price of a good night’s sleep?  Breathing in excellent quality, moist air, ease considerable pressure from the nasal cavity and alleviate symptoms that the dry air causes. A simple solution such as moisten air will allow you to breathe more easily resulting in a better and more comfortable night’s sleep.

Sleep apnoea is a common disorder categorized by paused breathing or periods of shallow breathing. It is very common, and the condition is a genuine problem for many that cause poor and disturbed sleep. For the reasons above, dry air is a major cause of sleep apnoea and therefore, can be easily aided by the simple use of an air humidifier.

Reduces Snoring

There are many reasons why snoring occurs, but often it is because of dry mouth, throat, and nasal passages. Snoring is something that can cause disturbance to yourself or others while sleeping. Anybody who has suffered from snoring will tell you that waking yourself in the night from snoring is no fun, or worse yet, waking a spouse up with your snoring. The latter is embarrassing and can be the cause of tension between partners.

Moisten air is widely linked to better, more restful sleep, reduced snoring and increased overall comfort at night. This is why many people run air humidifiers at night for either themselves or their partners benefit.

Reduce the signs of aging

We all know how our skin feels if we have been outside in the cold, however, did you know, that cold, dry air extracts all of the moisture from your skin which leads to dullness, flaking, dryness, and ultimately accelerated aging. I don’t know about you, but the phrase accelerated aging is one of which I would like to avoid. One is good news, maintaining good levels of moisture in the air can reduce this dryness, dullness, and flaking that leads to accelerated aging.

Maintaining good levels of air humidity will not only make you feel more comfortable, but it will also assist your skin and hair maintain moisture.

Helps pets

Remember, it’s not just about you. Others in your well-hydrated environment will also benefit from its advantages, and this does not exclude pets. Keeping your pets healthy and comfortable will reduce veterinary expenses. Many pets, including cats and dogs, have a wide variety of allergies. Adequately humidified and clean indoor air can significantly assist in the reduction of pet allergy symptoms.

We spoke a lot of health benefits, of which there are many, but it is also important to know that there are also many additional non-health-related benefits to humidifiers.

Wood furnishings benefits

Very dry air causes havoc with wooden moldings, doors, trims, panels or furniture. A lack of moisture in the air causes any real Wood furnishings to dry out, shrink and eventually crack or even split. This kind of damage can make unsightly blemishes on otherwise excellent quality furniture, it can also be expensive to have repaired. Maintaining good layers of humidity in the house will keep high quality, solid wood furniture and fittings strong, attractive and as they were initially intended. Keep your beautiful furniture beautiful by maintaining the correct levels of moisture in your home. This especially relates to music instruments made of wood. 

Saves money

It’s interesting to know that low levels of humidity can lead to feeling colder by a factor of 3 to 5 degrees. Air at lower temperatures but with higher levels of moisture (50 percent) will make you feel much warmer. What this means is that if you are running your humidifier, you can save money on your utility bills because there will be a reduced need for heating. As a humidifier is a small appliance, it will be more energy efficient and therefore, less expensive than other more energy-intensive appliances such as heaters.

Know the ideal humidity level

A hygrometer is a device that measures humidity and is something that is installed in most modern humidifiers. The advantage of this as it allows you to know the humidity of the room so you can maintain the correct level.

The ideal relative indoor humidity levels are somewhere between 40 and 60% depending on your preference. For normal conditions, it is widely accepted that maintaining a humidity level of between 45 and 50% is most beneficial. Humidifiers are commonly used during winter or periods of cold, as this is when atmospheric humidity is lower and when air drying or heating systems are in regular use. In dry climates, they are used all year round.

What is a humidifier and how does it work

A humidifier is a device that the increases humidity/moisture within a certain space. Domestic humidifiers can be connected directly to a houses HVAC system or in the case of stand-alone units, they are small portable appliances. Humidifiers work by adding moisture to the air by evaporating water from the internal reservoir to increase moisture the levels. Many humidifiers also have antibacterial or antimicrobial filters fitted.

What should I look for when I buy one?

There are a few things to consider when searching humidifier. We have taken a few of these points and listed them down here to assist you in purchasing a humidifier.

Simple to maintain and keep clean

It’s important that any humidifier is easy to disassemble and to reassemble. This will make your life easier and quicker, but it should also make cleaning more comfortable as well. Pay particular attention to the types of filters that it requires (antibacterial or antimicrobial).

Types of humidifier

There are various types of humidifiers on the market such as evaporators, warm mist, and ultrasonic humidifier. They all have their benefits and as always, it is important to understand which one best meets your needs before you buy.

Hygrometer and timer

The point of humidifier is to maintain ideal humidity conditions within your home. Choosing a humidifier with a built-in hygrometer will allow you to assess the levels of humidity and manage it accordingly (up or down) to your taste. Remember humidity within the space can increase or decrease during hot or cold weather and so it’s important to know the levels. Having humidifier with a timer will allow you to humidify your rooms at the time of your preference.

Reservoir

The reservoir is the tank where the water is filled up and stored. It’s important to choose a model of humidifier that has easy access to refill the reservoir. Depending on your needs it’s also important to choose a humidifier that has a reservoir large enough to meet your needs (space and desires humidity levels).

Lights

Many modern humidifier models have lights to indicate the water levels or even when maintenance is required. Buying a model of humidifier that has these indicator lights can make running it much more straightforward as it prompts you when the action (such as refill) is required.

Noise

While it is uncommon with modern appliances that they are noisy, it is essential to check the noise levels of your humidifier before you purchase. Good quality humidifiers will generate little to no noise at all however, lower end models may produce more noise than better quality ones.

Once you have chosen a humidifier that meets the needs of your family and your home, feel free to enjoy the health benefits that your new humidifier brings.

Final thought

In closing, there is no question that a properly maintained and regularly cleaned humidifier brings significant health benefits; everything from reducing infection and allergies to improving your night sleep. Whilst your health and well-being are very important, it doesn’t stop there, humidifiers reduce static, prolong the life of Wood furnishings, and help houseplants thrive in an indoor environment.

Humidifiers offer a safer and healthier environment for you, your family and your pets; inexpensive, low energy consumption and practically no noise what’s not to love about air humidifiers.