A room humidifier can help raise the level of humidity or moisture in the air. Increasing the humidity in the home helps eliminate the dry air that can irritate and inflame the respiratory passages in the nose and throat. A room humidifier can help relieve the discomfort of colds and the flu, and help people who suffer from asthma.
When humidified air is breathed in, the water vapor adds moisture to secretions in the upper airway. This makes the secretions more fluid so it may be easier to cough them up. A humidifier can work only for the upper airway. Water vapor droplets made by a humidifier do not usually reach the lower airways, which include the trachea, or windpipe, and the lungs. In the past, a steam humidifier was commonly used. A newer humidifier, also known as a vaporizer, uses special energy waves to break water down into a vapor. This results in smaller droplets than were possible with a steam humidifier. The energy waves also kill any bacteria or mold that may be in the water or the machine. A special type of humidifier called a nebulizer can be used to deliver medication to the airway. A nebulizer is often used to treat asthma. It generates smaller water vapor droplets that are able to reach the small airways in the lungs. Certain medications, such as albuterol, can be dissolved in water and given with a nebulizer. The medications are then able to reach the lungs in greater concentration than if taken by mouth. A new approach is to give some antibiotics by nebulizer. This type of humidifier seems to work very well on lower airway infections in children with cystic fibrosis a serious inherited condition that damages the lungs. A room humidifier may be just the help you need.