The most commonly suggested home remedy by our elders, when suffering from a cold, cough, and sore throat is steam inhalation. Even doctors are liberal in asking you to use steam inhalation when suffering from a cold and cough. Steam inhalation is nothing but a form of humidifier. There are essentially two types of humidifiers – and some of them can help you deal with cough.
1. Why do You Cough Anyway?
Cough and sore throat are common ailments. These ailments interfere with your daily functioning. There are several reasons behind a cough occurring such as
- Bacterial and viral infections.
- Environmental factors like dry air.
- Allergic agents, like dust mites.
- Certain chemicals in the air.
And some of these conditions can be kept at bay with a humidifier. For instance, humidifiers can help you avoid dry air, which can cause irritation and cough.
1.1 Two Types of Cough
Does humidifiers work better with a certain type of cough? Let’s look at both of the types of coughs you can have and how humidifers can help.
1.1.1 Dry Cough
This an unproductive type of cough, that is, no mucus is produced while coughing from the respiratory tract. This is usually caused by dry air or by an irritant present in the environment.
1.1.2 Wet Cough
When a substantial amount of mucus is produced by the respiratory tract during coughing, it is known as a wet cough. Bacterial or viral infections are usually responsible for wet cough. Now, humidifiers may not help much here, and instead contribute more. If you don’t clean humidifiers regularly, it can lead to mold and bacteria growth, which can worsen your wet cough.
That being said, a clean humidifier can aid in dealing with wet cough as it can help clear your passages and make you breathe easier.
Before starting the use of a humidifier, it is important to understand what are the humidity levels in the surrounding air.
2. Finding the Right Humidifier to Deal With Your Cold
As the name suggests, a humidifier adds moisture to the surrounding air. It is a well-known home remedy to deal with cough, allergies, cold, and sore throat.
Majorly, there are two kinds of humidifiers, namely, cool mist humidifiers and warm air humidifiers – and not all are the same when it comes to battling dry and wet cough.
2.1 Cool Mist Humidifiers
These humidifiers release an ultra-fine cool mist in the air, which adds moisture to the air. It also helps to cool down the room and thus works best in warmer climates. They are your choice during summers and general weather conditions.
2.2 Warm Air Humidifiers
These humidifiers are also known as steam vaporizers. These involve the heating of water to produce steam which is let out in the surrounding air, thus increasing the moisture content. These are great when it comes to dealing with wet coughs.
2.3 Whole House Humidifier
There are large unit humidifiers that can be installed to cater to the entire house. Whole house humidifiers are a beneficial addition to more moisture in the air.
Cool mist and warm mist humidifiers are both equally effective, however, the warm mist humidifier is considered unsafe when children and pets are around as it contains hot water, which can be spilled over and cause burns. For this reason, particularly cool mist humidifiers are preferred. Additionally, if you’re living in colder climates, the whole-house humidifier is a great one to install in your home.
3. How Does a Humidifier Help You Deal with Cough?
Once the cause of the cough has been identified, humidifiers remain a good supplement to take care of the cough through natural means.
The basic principle of a humidifier is, that the water vapor and ultra-fine mist that is produced is inhaled, and within the respiratory system the temperature is brought to a point, which is conducive for the body. This clears the respiratory passage, facilitating the reduction in cough or easy passage of the mucus.
Humidifiers thus, help minimize the intensity of the cough. Humidifiers soothe the cough, as they loosen mucus. Irritants that trouble the respiratory tract can be soothed with the help of a humidifier. They also help in clearing stuffy nasal passageways, making breathing easy. So does a humidifier help in cough? The answer is a sure yes.
4. Other Benefits of A Humidifier for a Healthier Life
4.1 Improvement in Sleep
Cough is an irritant which can hamper the quality of sleep. Using a humidifier in your room at night can ease out the cough thus, improving the quality of sleep.
4.2 Prevention of Dry Skin
Dry scaly skin is usually noticed in dry weather like winters. Using humidifiers, especially cool mist humidifiers can help the skin retain its moisture and not appear dry.
4.3 Reduction Is Breathing Problems
Sometimes in climates which can be very dry, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and irritation in the sinuses are problems one can face during that time. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and thus decreases the said symptoms.
In certain cases, it has also been observed that humidifiers reduce the incidence of snoring. Breathing the humidified air is one reason that is attributed to comfortable sleep.
4.5 Prevention of Airborne Diseases
Studies have shown that the frequent use of humidifiers reduces the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses. However, more research needs to be conducted to establish a definite relationship.
5. Tips to Use Humidifiers Appropriately
When dealing with cough with the help of a humidifier, you need to ensure that there is no mold and bacteria growth. Here are some tips that can help.
5.1 Cleaning the Humidifier
Cleaning the humidifiers is essential to prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for bacterial infections.
5.2 Using Distilled Water
Use distilled water instead of tap water. Tap water is unfiltered and has numerous minerals. Distilled water or demineralized water is used to prevent mineral buildup.
5.3 Avoid Letting the Water Stand
Do not let water stand in the humidifier for long when not in use. Standing water allows the growth of mould spores, bacteria, and other microorganisms.
5.4 Be Cautious
When using a warm mist humidifier, make sure to be careful around it especially if you have kids or pets as it uses hot water.
Humidifiers can be a valuable addition to your home if cough and cold are your friends who visit you quite frequently. If the air often feels dry, using one can do wonders. It has been shown to ease coughing and also make breathing easier. Depending upon the climate that you live in, a cool mist humidifier or warm mist humidifier may be opted for. In conclusion, it can be said that humidifiers do help in cough.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
7.1 What is a humidifier?
Answer: It is a device that raises the moisture content of the surrounding air.
7.2 When should a humidifier not be used?
Answer: Using a humidifier can be risky when you suffer from asthma and other serious respiratory problems like COPD. Humidifiers in these cases have been found to aggravate the condition.
7.3 How does a humidifier help in cough?
Answer: A cool mist humidifier helps ease the passage of mucus in case of wet coughing and soothes the irritation causing dry coughing, making it a good option to use to help with coughing.