Can Humidifiers Prevent the Flu?

January 18, 2024

Getting the flu is not fun and can be quite serious if it goes untreated. Every year, flu season hits Indian Trail and people try all kinds of home remedies to feel better. An unconventional flu prevention method rising in popularity is a common household item: the humidifier. Next time you’re in town shopping at spots like White Barn Marketplace or grabbing a bite to eat at favorite local restaurants like The Trail House stop by a nearby department store or pharmacy to browse humidifier options. Does a humidifier really make a difference in catching the flu? Read more to discover the science behind why humidifiers could be a game changer during flu season.

Will a Humidifier Keep You From Catching the Flu?

A study from PloS Journal found that using a humidifier can reduce virus concentration levels in the air by up to 50%. With promising results from this study and similar ones, it is evident that humidifiers can make a big difference during flu season. While more research is needed to understand just how effective these little machines are at flu prevention, it is a known fact that humidity reduces the chance of breathing in virus particles. Humid air traps the particles and causes them to quickly fall out of the air. The flu virus can still survive on surfaces, so remember to disinfect counters and tables in your home regularly.

Health Benefits of Humidifiers

Preventing the flu is one thing, but treating it is another. The good news is a humidifier could be helpful when it comes to relieving symptoms as well. Beyond flu prevention, humidifiers provide a number of health benefits:

  • Relieves congestion
  • Soothes a sore or scratchy throat
  • Hydrates skin and prevents dryness
  • Improves sleep quality

Types of Humidifiers

There are a wide variety of humidifiers to choose from, each with pros and cons. It’s up to your personal preference and lifestyle when selecting the right humidifier. If you are in search of a portable machine for your home, office, or classroom, consider one of the following options:

  • Steam humidifiers: Uses electricity to create steam
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers: Uses vibrations to vaporize water
  • Evaporative humidifiers: Uses a circulating fan to produce mist

Cool-Mist vs. Warm-Mist Humidifiers

Both cool-mist and warm-mist humidifiers are effective, but each has different benefits that could be a better fit for your lifestyle.

  • Cool-mist: No burn risk, emits cooler vapor temperatures, and is effective for relieving coughs and congestion
  • Warm-mist: Kills any potentially harmful bacteria in the water, produces little to no noise, and emits warmer vapor temperatures.

Humidifier Use and Maintenance

Consider these tips and tricks for best results when using your humidifier:

  • Aim for humidity levels between 40%-60%
  • Avoid humidity levels above 60% to prevent harmful bacteria growth
  • Clean your humidifier regularly to prevent mold and harmful bacteria growth
  • Consult your doctor before using a humidifier if you suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions

Unsure of how to measure humidity levels? Use a hygrometer to test levels in your home or workplace. Many humidifiers will also display this information during use.

Other Ways to Stop the Flu

Humidifiers may help prevent the flu but don’t neglect taking other precautions:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Get your annual flu shot
  • Disinfect counters, doorknobs, light switches, and other hard surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with others during flu season as much as possible
  • Practice self-care and keep your immune system strong

Stay Healthy With a Humidifier

Using a humidifier is not the end all be all, but it certainly has its positives. Use a humidifier at home or work to keep the flu away and to promote other health benefits. Combine this method and others, such as hand washing and vaccination, to stay healthy during flu season. Consult with a healthcare professional if you have questions about the potential impact humidifiers could have on your overall health.

Think you have the flu? Visit AFC Urgent Care Indian Trail today for rapid flu testing and treatment.

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