The cold, dry air of winter can give you chapped lips, cracked hands and the increasingly evident chance of getting the flu. In low-humidity conditions, the influenza virus is more likely to survive, possibly giving it a better shot at spreading. Using a humidifier may be a good idea in places where the spread of influenza poses a serious threat, such as intensive care units or even a home with a sick child. The name for this potentially deadly respiratory infection comes from the Italian word for influence. It is believed to come from the Italian saying, influence of the cold. The flu virus spreads most prevalently in dry air making the presence of a humidifier that much more important.

Relative humidity is strongly influenced by temperature; the warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold, while colder air cannot hold as much water vapor. Absolute humidity, on the other hand, refers to the actual amount of water vapor in the air regardless of saturation. It is recommended to have the relative humidity in your home at between 35% and 50%. This level provides a healthy quality of air that will deter bacteria, viruses and mold. That is the reason why having a humidifier is so important. It can provide comfortable living and prevent the presence of bacteria and viruses that fill the dry winter air. Here are four additional ways that humidifiers can reduce your chances of catching the flu.


  1. A humidifier, or even a vaporizer, can help ease congestion in babies and infants by moistening the air helping to clear ones nasal passages. By increasing humidity levels in your home, moist air will be produced to prevent bouts with the flu. Remember, though, that too much moisture can lead to other health issues, such as mold.
  2. Humidified air will moisten your skin (including nasal passages) and thin some of the mucous in your sinuses. This makes it easier for you to breathe and easier for the mucous to drain. Finally, it prevents a virus from building up and keeping you sick in bed.
  3. Wetter air causes flu viruses to die. It has been shown that in high humidity levels, the flu virus does not survive very long. When absolute humidity is low, influenza virus survival is prolonged. A humidifier can provide the perfect amount of moisture to your homes air.
  4. Virus transmission is prevented because enough moisture and humidity is present in the air to deter the virus. As noted above, the virus level is prolonged in low humidity making it more likely to spread from one person to another. That is why we see seasonal spikes in flu and more people being sick in the winter time in general. Increasing humidity levels with a humidifier will make it less likely for a friend or visitor to infect your healthy home.