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Clinician’s Corner: Choosing a Humidifier

We pharmacists frequently get questions about choosing a humidifier.  Your Thompson Pharmacist can help you make that decision but here is some pertinent information.

  • Every homeowner should own a hygrometer that measures temperature and relative humidity. The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is about 40-50%. A local allergist advises, “before you recommend a humidifier, recommend a hygrometer first!”
  • In the winter months, it may have to be lower than 40% relative humidity to avoid condensation on the windows
  • If a parent wants a cool mist humidifier for a child who is congested or has a runny nose, keep in mind that it may make their allergies worse, especially if they are allergic to dust mites and mold.
  • Dust mites and mold like high humidity levels, so a humidifier will increase humidity and make allergies worse. Mites contain about 70% to 75% water by weight and must maintain this to reproduce. Their primary source of water for dust mites is ambient water vapor
  • For dust mite control, you want to keep humidity levels low. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help to keep humidity levels low -below 50% if possible. (30% is adequate)

FACTS about Dust Mites:

  • Adult Mite Lifespan:Up to 3 months
  • Reproduction:Female mites lay about 25 to 50 eggs
  • Where they live:Mites live in carpet, fabric upholstery, and mattresses.
  • What they eat:Human skin scale, animal dander and trace nutrients. Mites need to absorb humidity, since they cannot drink water.
  • What causes the allergies:Dust mite fecal material.  Dust mites do not bite, and they are microscopic.
  • Temperature Range: 59°F to 95°F
  • Relative Humidity Range: 55% to 85%

Reducing exposure to dust mites:

  • Use bedding encasements that cover pillows and mattresses with zippered covers, which are impermeable to mites and mite allergens.
  • Wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot or warm water with detergent or dry in an electric dryer on the hot setting weekly.
  • Use washable, vinyl, or roll-type window covers.
  • Remove clutter, soft toys, and upholstered furniture. Limit stuffed animals to those that can be washed.
  • Remove or replace wall to wall carpets with area rugs that can be cleaned/washed.
  • Wash bed linens weekly
  • Avoid down fillings- encase comforters with fine mesh material
  • Reduce humidity levels between 30 -50%

Excess humidity can also cause:

  • Damage walls, paint, wallpaper, insulation and ceilings
  • Mold growth on household surfaces, which can cause health issues in sensitive individuals
  • Condensation or fog forming on walls or glass surfaces, such as mirrors, pictures or windowpanes.
  • Dampness around the humidifier.

Always consult your Thompson Pharmacist!