Humidifiers Can Hinder the Flu

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Dry air and cold temperatures are known to promote the spread of influenza, and, in temperate regions, flu outbreaks have been closely correlated with decreased humidity
  • Using a portable humidifier in your bedroom during flu season could reduce the survival of influenza virus in the air
  • In a study, the addition of a portable humidifier in the bedroom increased absolute and relative humidity; along with the increases in humidity came a decrease in the survival of influenza virus, by 17.5% to 31.6%
  • In a study on mice, those housed in a low-humidity environment were more susceptible to influenza and had more severe disease
  • Dry air compromised the mice’s resistance to infection, and those housed at lower humidity levels had impaired mucociliary clearance, innate antiviral defense and tissue repair function
  • Experts suggest the ideal level of relative humidity to avoid adverse health effects is between 40% and 60%

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