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Humidifiers Help Sleep and  Snoring
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Review of Humidiers
July 21, 2008
By Susan M. Callahan, Health Editor and Featured Columnist

Humidifiers have long been prescribed by physicians to relieve
night time congestion in adults and children.  And, as any parent of
a child with a cold can tell you, they do seem to work to ease

But the efficacy of humidifiers in aiding breathing is the subject of
scientific controversy.  In theory, humidifiers make us more
comfortable because they add moisture to dry, indoor winter air,
air which can be drier than the humidity of the Sahara desert.  But
one researcher from the University of Michigan has concluded that
humidifiers aid comfort but add no health benefits.  

Dr. Harriet Burge notes that  the nasal passages are the body's
natural humidifiers.

"People live very nicely in the middle of the desert without adding
humidity to their air", she noted in an interview with the New York

Why the disconnect between science and what we believe helps us
from our personal experiences? The answer may be in the way our
bodies transition from cold moist air to hot.  Studies have shown it
takes about 3 days for our bodies to transition from a humid
environment to dry air. During this transition, eyes become dry,
nasal passages and eyes become dry or even bleed. After we
transition, the moisture levels in our nasal passages return to
normal and we breathe more normally. This would explain the
ability of people who live in the desert to breath comfortably while
those of us who live in more temperate moist climes become
uncomfortable in dry indoor winter heat.

Both sides of the debate seem to agree that humans derive some
comfort from humidifiers in the winter and when we suffer from

Are cold humidifiers better than hot humidifiers?  Research has not
 found that heated humidifiers provide any greater relief from
congestion than cold humidifiers.

By the time the air reaches the water vapor reaches the lower
cavities of the lungs, it is the same temperature regardless of
whether it started out cold or hot.

Most pediatricians recommend using cool-mist humidifiers with
children to reduce the risk that steam from a warm-mist humidifier
or steam vaporizer accidentally will burn your child.

All humidifiers have to be cleaned periodically to retard the growth
of bacteria and molds.

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