Keep colds and allergies at bay with the help of a humidifier
As winter winds down, the threat of colds not only doesn't necessarily diminish, but is joined by a round of allergies that increase as spring arrives.
To reduce your chances of experiencing these ailments and make life easier if you become ill in spite of your best efforts, there are a host of things you can do to reduce the symptoms and misery of respiratory sickness.
You can do everything that Mom taught you – drink fluids, take decongestants and allergy medicine, have a piping hot bowl of chicken soup. They'll also help, but in the chicken soup lies a hidden message – moisture is good for what ails you.
So add to the list a humidifier, which can add much needed moisture to dry indoor air during winter and early spring, when we're still relying on our furnaces, space heaters and blankets to keep us warm.
Humidifiers will not only make your environment warmer – moist air retains heat best – and add to your healing process if you're sick, but they may lessen the chance of getting ill in the first place. Having a humidifying appliance in place throughout winter also keeps our skin, lips, throats and nasal cavities from becoming uncomfortably dry.
Room humidifiers can also relieve one of the most common symptoms of colds and allergies, which is sinus congestion. People who suffer from chronic allergies and asthma benefit from the moist air that humidifiers create because it helps them breathe more easily.
It's important to keep the appliances as free of germs as possible. That means regular maintenance and cleaning of the water tank and adjoining surfaces is needed.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, humidifiers should be cleaned every third day. Make sure they're unplugged first, then empty and scrub the tank to remove any mineral deposits or film that's formed.
Wipe down all surfaces with a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution available at pharmacies. If a disinfectant is used instead, rinse the tank several times so chemicals won't be dispersed into the air. All surfaces and the tank should be wiped completely dry before the unit is refilled with distilled water, which is recommended by most manufacturers because it reduces the amount of mineral accumulation in the appliance.
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