Humidifier Critics Raise Health Concerns

According to one researcher, humidifiers may do more harm than good

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If you have children, then chances are you have a humidifier somewhere in the house, probably in your child’s room.

    Like many parents, Emilio Romo’s mom has a humidifier in her San Diego home, just in case the one-month old catches a cold or the air is too dry. She says it works great for all her children.

    Humidifier Critics Raise Health Concerns

    [DGO] Humidifier Critics Raise Health Concerns
    According to one researcher, humidifiers may do more harm than good. (Published Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011)

    "They don't start coughing, the nose is cleaner," said Jacquie Romo.

    For parents, it's a common household item that is supposed to help clear the airways of children who are suffering from a cold or allergies. But according to a doctor at the University Of Utah, humidifiers may actually cause more harm than good.

    Dr. Ameet Daftary says a six-month-old patient of his suffered from serious lung problems after his parents put an ultrasonic humidifier in his room. He also says no one has proven that humidifiers actually help ease cold symptoms.

    "There isn't any clear evidence that this works, one way or another," he wrote in Pediatrics magazine.

    But La Jolla pediatrician Dr. Bill Hitchcock disagrees. 

    "When we give a child a breathing treatment in the office or in the emergency room at hospitals, it is humidified air," he said.

    Dr. Hitchcock says humidifiers can create health problems if they are not cleaned properly.

    They can build up bacteria, fungus and a white dust created by minerals, all of which can irritate the lungs," Hitchcock said.

    He suggests people clean the humidifier after each use and to check the manufacturers recommendations for the best cleaning options.

    Dr. Hitchcock also says people should use distilled water and not tap water because it has too many minerals.

    "I'd be cautious, make sure I'm using it properly and cleaning it often, I don't think you need to throw it out just yet," Hitchcock said.