Can a Humidifier Make a Cough Worse?

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can a humidifier make a cough worse

Can a humidifier make a cough worse? Humidifiers are simple devices with one job which is to add moisture to the air when the relative humidity has dropped below a comfortable point. Which is usually around 30%.

Humidifiers are generally known as winter appliances because that’s the time of the year when the outdoor air tends to be dry and the indoor air is being dried out by a heater running all season.

Along with dry air comes a multitude of miserable symptoms like a dry cough, dry throat, chapped lips, and both crusty and bloody noses.

Can a humidifier make a cough worse?

“A clean humidifier moisturizing the air with clean water will not make a cough worse.

Adding some clean moisture back into the air when you are feeling dried out by the lack of humidity in the house is a great way to relieve dry cough symptoms.

But the key takeaway here is that you are adding CLEAN humidity back to a room that is CLEARLY TOO DRY.

When can a humidifier make a cough worse?

1. When the humidifier is dirty
2. When the humidity is already at a good level or too high.
3. Using a dirty humidifier when the level of humidity is already good.

1. Dirty humidifier

A neglected, dirty humidifier can make a cough worse. They can not only make a cough worse, they can exasperate allergies and even give you mold sickness. Maybe you’ve heard of humidifier lung.

Why is this? The design of a humidifier lends itself to the production of bacteria and mold spores that if not addressed regularly can make a humidifier into a virtual air pollution machine that distributes mold spores and germs into the air with every drop of humidity that it emits.

dirty humidifier cough

2. Humidity is already at a appropriate level

Adding humidity to an already humid room can add fuel to the production of mold growth and provide food for dust mites. Both which are common household allergens that can bring on symptoms like sneezing, watering eyes, and chess discomfort.

Too much humidity can be just as much of a problem as to little humidity.
And depending on the season keeping the relative humidity inside the house at the 40% level can be a balancing act.

3. A dirty humidifier combined with and already humid room.

If you want a super size the problem, using an already dirty humidifier that has had standing water in it in a humid room can turn up the production of mold spores and dust mites to full steam.

Why would someone want to do that?

The truth is there are so many different types of appliances that affect the air in different ways that it can be a confusing knowing which appliance does what.

It’s not uncommon for humidifiers to be confused with dehumidifiers or air purifiers for that matter.

Humidifiers are for adding moisture to the air, dehumidifiers decrease the moisture in the air and air purifiers clean the air.

And some of their functions overlap making it even that much more confusing.

What to do if you have a humidifier that is making you cough.

1.Thoroughly clean it.

Adding clean moisture to the air when the air is dry is a great way to alleviate the symptoms of dry cough.

But if you’re humidifier is dirty then it can become a source of mold and bacteria in your air when it is turned on.
And at that point it is actually doing the opposite of what you wanted to do.

Keeping the humidifier clean is a major component of operating a humidifier and should be emphasized a great deal more than it normally is.

Not only should the water be changed every couple of days, the humidifier should be routinely cleaned and disinfected with a light water and bleach solution to kill any mold and to help inhibit any mold and bacteria production.

Another helpful hint for keeping your humidifier clean is to add a little bit of vinegar in the water. This will also help reduce mold and bacteria production in your humidifier between cleanings.

2.Avoid tap water

Most people know that tap water is not exactly the healthiest way to hydrate. But not a lot of people realize that when you use it in your humidifier that the additives in tap water like fluoride and herbicides become part of your air you breathe as they are disseminated into the air through the moisture that the humidifier is emitting.

The best way to avoid this is to simply use deep mineralized water or water that has been boiled.

The exception to the rule is a vaporizer.
Vaporizers boil water and emit the steam into the room to humidify the air.

The act of boiling sterilizes the water and eliminates the need purchasing distilled water.

Vaporizers also do not have the same amount of problems with mold and bacteria production because of how it works also.

Vaporizers still need to be cleaned and emptied when not using to avoid standing water.

2. Invest in a Self Cleaning Germ Free Humidifier

The age of self cleaning humidifiers is beginning to come into view much clearer than ever before. Technologies like Anti-Microbal Plastics and Ultraviolet light are making humidifiers safer than ever.

humidifier lung


A clean humidifier emitting clean moisture to a room that has a dry environment is a great way to lessen the symptoms of a cough. Especially a dry cough that usually comes with chapped lips, a crusty nose, and a raw throat.

But humidifiers are predisposed to mold and bacteria growth. And failure to maintenance a humidifier regularly can cause the humidifier to be a source for the symptoms of household allergies and coughing.

To ensure that you are reaping the good benefits of a humidifier,

Changing the water and thoroughly cleaning the humidifier every couple, too few days is absolutely necessary.

Avoid standing water by emptying the reservoir when the humidifier is not in use,

And consider purchasing distilled water or pre-boiling water to use in your humidifier to avoid any chemicals like fluoride for other herbicides used in tap water from becoming part of the air you breathe.

Do it yourself – Humidifier