What’s The Better Choice? Humidifier Or Dehumidifier For Stuffy Nose

Indoor Air Quality

A stuffy or clogged nose can come time and again to anyone. While generally harmless, nasal congestion could be a sign of a more serious health problem. Besides that, a stuffy nose is never fun to have. Because nasal blockage is usually accompanied by or associated with colds, coughs, allergies, flu, and facial pain.

Do you ever wonder if you can use a humidifier or dehumidifier for stuffy nose, or better yet, prevent a stuffy nose? Many found comfort in using humidifiers, while others see dehumidifiers as a better help. What do you think?

Is there a better choice between a humidifier and a dehumidifier in helping with nasal blockage? Does humidity have an impact on your family’s well-being? How are humidifiers and dehumidifiers similar and different from one another? Is there a way either device can make nasal congestion worse? 

DP humidifier or dehumidifier for stuffy nose

Which Is Better: A Humidifier Or Dehumidifier For Stuffy Nose?

A humidifier and a dehumidifier may be different in functions but both can help with a stuffy nose. The device suited for you depends greatly on the cause of your nasal congestion.

If your stuffy nose is caused by extremely low humidity where your sinuses dry out, a humidifier may help to increase the humidity level in your home by releasing steam or vapor into the air. The added moisture also thins and breaks up the mucus clogging your nasal cavity making it easier to cough up.

However, if your stuffy nose is caused by allergies due to mold or dust mites, a dehumidifier is better for you. Many common allergens thrive in humid spaces so a dehumidifier can reduce the moisture in the environment when the humidity is too high. It can also ease the difficulty in breathing for asthmatic patients. 

So a humidifier directly relieves a stuffy nose, while a dehumidifier prevents congestion brought on by excessive moisture in the air. Either device should not be overused as it can aggravate respiratory conditions and risk one’s health.

How Can Humidity Cause A Stuffy Nose?

Humidity is the level of water vapor in the air. If humidity is very low, it manifests as dry skin, sore throat, and chapped lips. Meanwhile, high levels of moisture can be immediately felt as an uncomfortable, icky feeling on the skin, where the air is too stale and heavy and difficult to breathe in.

There are two ways humidity can impact your body and lead to a stuffy nose: 

  1. Low levels of humidity dry out nasal passages resulting in nasal congestion. A sharp drop of moisture in the indoor air typically happens in winter because cold air can hold less moisture than warm air. The situation is aggravated when the heated air from the furnace produces even drier air. 

The sinus, nasal cavities, throat, mouth, lungs, and air passages, also known as the mucus membranes, require sufficient moisture to function properly. If met with exceedingly dry air, the lining of these membranes, especially the nose, becomes inflamed and irritated easily. Mucus will start to overproduce resulting in a stuffy nose.

  1. High humidity promotes the growth of allergens in the air prompting allergies. Too much moisture in the air inside the house, on the other hand, still poses a danger to your health, although somewhat indirectly. 

Damp places encourage mold, mildew, and small insects such as cockroaches and dust mites to flourish. These are classic irritants and can cause minor to severe allergies. Allergies, in turn, present with symptoms such as cough, itchy eyes and throat, and what else? Nasal blockage or stuffy nose!

The good news is, modern technology has enabled us to deal with these types of health risks. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are designed to address these specific issues with humidity.

But before we discuss how they can alleviate congestion, let’s explore first what are the true purposes of each device and what are their similarities and differences.

How Is A Humidifier Different From a Dehumidifier?

You can quickly tell from the word “humidifier” that this device creates or add vapor to your home. They are usually taken out of storage during the cold seasons and the air is too dry or when somebody is under the weather.

A humidifier is a simple home device with a few basic parts: a reservoir, a wick, and a fan. 

The reservoir is commonly referred to as the tank because it contains the water that the humidifier uses to produce moisture. The evaporative type of humidifier has a wick that absorbs the water from the humidifier’s tank. The wick also filters the impurities and other minerals from the water so they will not be distributed to your breathing air. Finally, the fan blows out the moisture in your home’s air.

There are various kinds of humidifiers in the market: central or whole-house humidifiers, impeller humidifiers, ultrasonic humidifiers, evaporators, and steam vaporizers. 

A whole-house humidifier humidifies your entire home as it is connected to your heating and air conditioning systems. It is the best choice if you want to manage the humidity level in all areas of your house and not just in particular rooms. 

An impeller humidifier produces a cool mist through a rotating disk, while an evaporator blows a fan through a wet wick. An ultrasonic humidifier, another type of cool mist humidifier, does the job with ultrasonic vibrations.

Lastly, a vaporizer is a kind of warm mist humidifier that releases moisture using electricity to create a warm mist but then cools before it leaves the device. Caution is needed in choosing this type of humidifier if you have kids and pets at home.

Now let’s talk about another simple device, the dehumidifier. Its main and only purpose is to take out or reduce water from the air. 

But despite being a basic machine, it has four to six integral parts: the fan, the fan compressor, the re-heater, the compressor cooling coils, the reservoir, and the dehumidifier ducting.

The dehumidifier starts its process by drawing in warm air from the room with a fan and then passing it through the cooling coils. The water drawn out from the air in the form of condensation goes to the reservoir or tank while the air freed from moisture is released back into the air. 

You can choose between two kinds of dehumidifiers: the whole-house dehumidifier and the portable, plug-in type.

A whole-house dehumidifier, like its central humidifier counterpart, lowers the humidity for the entire house. It is less expensive to maintain a central dehumidifier instead of several portable ones and it sits quietly in one section of your home.

A portable dehumidifier can either use refrigerant just like in air conditioners or a desiccant, a water-absorbent material attached to a wheel. 

Can A Humidifier Or Dehumidifier Make Nasal Congestion Worse?

Despite their simplicity in methods of operation, humidifiers and dehumidifiers help alleviate stuffy noses and other troubling symptoms of allergies and asthma.

However, improper use or overuse of either a humidifier or dehumidifier can have the opposite effect on your health.

Humidifiers, for example, relieve congestion by thinning mucus and expanding airways and relaxing lung muscles. But if used excessively, you may over-humidify the room making the air stagnant and heavier to breathe in, prompting asthma attacks. 

Too much humidity may also promote mold growth and the propagation of insects such as dust mites and cockroaches. Those with severe allergies to these irritants may suffer severe allergies if exposed.

On the other end of the spectrum, dehumidifiers, if overused, may bring down humidity to a dangerously low level. This may dry out your mucus membranes and lead to a dry and sore throat, chapped lips, dry skin, and surprisingly, an irritated and congested nose.

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