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Humidifiers Can Hinder the Flu

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

humidifier benefits

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  • 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%

Outbreaks of influenza are seasonal in nature, with transmission and death rates increasing in winter months. Dry air and cold temperatures are particularly known to promote the spread of influenza, and, in temperate regions, flu outbreaks have been closely correlated with decreased humidity.

While it’s previously been shown that low ambient humidity encourages the transmission of viruses, what this means for infection in humans, as well as outcomes among those infected, is less clear, leading researchers to look into whether changes in humidity could play a role in influenza infection.


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