Can a humidifier make you sick? Can this humble device turn from friend to foe, leaving you feeling under the weather? In this captivating quest for answers, we delve into the realms of moisture and health to discover whether this misty marvel can make you sick.
Although humidifiers are essential for staying healthy during climate changes across the year, misusing them could quickly turn their benefits sour. Humidifier sickness, also known as humidifier fever, is actual and can be easily caught by some actions you might take or not take. All these will be discussed extensively in this article, including steps you could take to implicate humidifier sickness symptoms.
Symptoms exhibited by humidifier sickness sufferers resemble what you might experience at home during high-humid seasons. Humidifiers could create poor environmental conditions, enough for disease-causing microorganisms to thrive and cause you harm.
Also Read: Easy to Clean Humidifier for Baby
Can a Humidifier Make you Sick?
A humidifier is primarily designed to make you healthy, not sick; neither would it make you sick when it usually functions.
However, there are some rules you should follow when using a humidifier to avoid getting sick. Therefore, yes, there is a possibility you will feel ill due to running a humidifier without following specific regulations.
A poorly maintained humidifier can quickly become a microorganism juice box, and an “over-ran” humidifier could also invite microorganism breeding.
Two Major Causes of Humidifier Sickness
The two primary reasons for experiencing humidifier sickness are:
- Poorly maintained units that breed dirt and microorganisms overtime
- Over-humidification of the air which promotes the survival of molds and other microorganisms
Humidifiers use water to create mist, which adds moisture to the air. This water is either stored in tanks or flows through the system during the humidifying process. However, if the parts of the humidifier that come into contact with water aren’t cleaned regularly, molds or bacteria can grow.
If not addressed, these bacteria can enter the humidification system and become part of the mist that the humidifier releases into the air. When people in the home breathe in this contaminated mist, they are exposed to these harmful microorganisms.
On the other hand, even if you clean your humidifier well, using it to create too much humidity can also be problematic. High humidity levels are perfect for mold, bacteria, mildew, and dust mites to flourish. If the air in your home becomes overly humid, these harmful organisms can easily spread and potentially harm your health.
Common Dirty Humidifier Sickness Symptoms
Dirty Humidifiers cause flu-like symptoms and could also cause lung infections. Flu-like symptoms include fever, congestion, runny nose, fatigue, headaches, and chills. Not all these symptoms appear at once, and some might not even show at all. It varies depending on each individual.
According to a memo released by CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) safety alert, “white dust usually contain particles that are small enough to navigate the lungs through the nasal passage. The health effects from inhaling the humidifier white dust are not clear; but any impact on your health will mostly depend on the types and amounts of minerals found in the water used.”
One common cure for airborne dust is an air purifier combined with a warm air/cool air humidifier to prevent dirty, dry air!
Humidifier Sickness Symptoms – Frequently Asked Questions
1) How do you know if your humidifier filter is bad or dirty?
Dirty humidifiers are not challenging to spot if you know the accompanying symptoms. These symptoms are summed up in one word, humidifier sickness.
It can be problematic and possibly triggered quickly for people with underlying health problems, like allergies and asthma.
Humidifiers, asthma, and allergies
Before using a humidifier, consult your doctor if you or your kid have asthma or allergies. Increased humidity may help children and adults with asthma or allergies breathe more accessible, especially during a respiratory infection like a cold. However, unclean humidifier mist or increased allergen development induced by excessive humidity can trigger or aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms.
For others, dirty humidifiers have the potential to trigger flu-like symptoms or even cause worse problems like lung infections. You would feel different after inhaling mist from a dirty humidifier for a while.
2) Is it safe to use tap water in a humidifier?
YES and NO.
It can be safe to use tap water and also not safe to use such water in a humidifier. This all depends on the type of humidifier in question.
Some humidifiers are built with filters and other cleaning mechanisms that remove dirt and, more importantly, minerals from the water before humidification. For those kinds of products, any water can be used safely. Filters and cleaning systems could also be changed regularly, or you risk getting the dirt back into the water.
On the other hand, some humidifiers do not come with such a cleaning system. They expressly allow water to pass through without any form of cleaning or protection, and after humidification, the mist produced comes out with white dust.
These humidifiers should be used only with distilled water, not tap (hard) water. Running tap water would mean breathing in minerals from the water along with the white dust problems.
3) Can you over-humidify a room to the level of mold growth?
YES. Over-humidification is when humidity in the air holds more moisture than it can carry. It is typically a zone where the relative humidity is higher than 60% (the limit for safe humidity recommended by experts).
Over-humidification happens when the humidifier keeps running too long and releasing moisture, even if the air is already saturated. Molds thrive in highly humid conditions and appear as black patches in dark corners and walls in your house or your humidifier. Constant cleaning or removing the mold is not the solution; reducing the humidity is.
How to Get Mold Out of a Humidifier? – Humidifier Sickness Symptoms Prevention
There is only one guaranteed way to get mold out of a humidifier, and it is a thorough cleaning. You can start by removing the humidifier and exposing all the nukes and crannies in which mold might be hidden. Depending on how dirty the humidifier is, you can soak it for a few minutes in a cleaning solution before washing its parts. Just so you know, you should only soak plastic parts, not the base containing electronic circuits.
Follow the video below for a more detailed cleaning process:
- Start by unplugging the humidifier from any power outlet it connects to.
- Disassemble the unit as much as the design allows you to. Remove the top cover, tank, and any other covering.
- Hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar are powerful domestic cleaning agents that you can use. Pour reasonably into the humidifier’s base and keep for a few minutes.
- Scrub with a clean toothbrush, ensuring you hit all the unit’s essential parts and hidden corners. Scrub away every mineral buildup and mold.
- After scrubbing, allow the solution to sit in the humidifier for about 30 minutes, after which you can empty the unit.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water, and look out for any hidden mold. Repeat this cleaning process all over if any is found.
- Allow the clean unit to dry.
- Ensure you clean up the tank and wick with the same process.
For more detailed information about maintaining your humidifier, here’s a guide on how to clean and maintain your humidifier.
Bottom Line – Humidifiers are Still Excellent and Beneficial
Humidifiers are excellent products that help you stay healthy when used correctly. Nevertheless, with poor cleaning habits and no attention paid to the humidity level of your environment, a humidifier can harm your health.