Does a Humidifier Help With COPD? Medical Experts Explained
Living with a respiratory condition such as COPD can be challenging and uncomfortable. But does a humidifier help with COPD?
Though the answer may not be definite, employing a humidifier is one of several approaches to controlling your symptoms.
In this blog post, we will discuss what COPD is, how a humidifier helps it, other ways to manage its symptoms, and common mistakes when using one for those suffering from this disease.
We hope you find our tips useful in managing your breathing difficulties so that you can lead an active life.
What is COPD?
COPD, a debilitating lung disorder, can cause difficulty in breathing as it progresses.1 COPD is typically the result of long-term exposure to noxious elements, like smoke from cigarettes, air pollutants, and chemical fumes. The most common symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing with mucus production.
COPD is a collective term for various chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema and bronchitis, caused by long-term exposure to damaging elements like smoke or contaminants.
The airways in the lungs can become aggravated or obstructed due to prolonged contact with particular triggers such as cigarette smoke or other pollutants present in the atmosphere. This leads to difficulty breathing and can eventually cause permanent lung damage if left untreated.2
COPD can cause a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, a persistent cough with mucus production, fatigue, and frequent respiratory infections that worsen over time. In more severe cases, the lungs can fill up with fluid, which is known as pulmonary edema. This can lead to severe shortness of breath and chest pain, and in some cases, it can be life-threatening if not promptly diagnosed and treated.3
COPD is a serious and often debilitating condition, but with the proper treatment and lifestyle changes, those suffering from COPD can still lead fulfilling lives. Now let's explore how using a humidifier may help to improve their quality of life.
Key Takeaway: COPD is a degenerative respiratory disorder resulting from long-term contact with irritants, and its manifestations can involve labored breathing, whistling in the chest, the rigidity of the thorax, coughing accompanied by mucus production, or other related signs. A humidifier may help relieve some of these symptoms.
How Does a Humidifier Help with COPD?
Humidifiers are a great way to help manage the symptoms of COPD. By adding moisture to the air, humidifiers can relieve some of the symptoms of COPD, such as dryness and irritation in the airways. They also help keep mucus thin, making breathing easier for patients.4
Benefits of Using a Humidifier for COPD Patients
A humidifier can help improve breathing by increasing humidity in the air, which helps reduce irritation and inflammation in the lungs caused by dry air.
This makes it easier for people with COPD to take deeper breaths and reduces coughing fits that can be triggered by dry air.
Moreover, employing a humidifier can also be advantageous in assuaging some other manifestations associated with COPD, such as bronchospasm-induced wheezing or chest constriction.4
Types of Humidifiers for COPD Patients
Several types of humidifiers are available on the market today, including cool mist, warm mist, ultrasonic, evaporative, and steam vaporizers. It is essential to evaluate each type before settling on the most suitable option for your requirements, as each has its own pros and cons.
- Cool mist models are typically quieter than warm mist models but do not provide as much relief from congestion or sinus problems as warm mist models do.
- Ultrasonic models produce very fine droplets that evaporate quickly, while evaporative models use filters that need regular cleaning or replacement depending on usage frequency.
- Steam vaporizers create steam directly into the room but should only be used if there is no risk of burning yourself since they operate at high temperatures when running correctly.
It is essential to keep tabs on your house's moisture levels when employing a humidifier since an excessive amount can lead to mold growth, exacerbating respiratory issues such as asthma or allergies, and also cause harm to furniture and walls if left unmonitored.
Most experts recommend keeping relative humidity between 30-50%, although this range may vary depending on individual preferences. Additionally, it would be best to always clean your humidifier regularly following manufacturer instructions to prevent bacteria buildup.
Finally, make sure you replace any filters regularly according to manufacturer guidelines since dirty filters will decrease efficiency over time.
A humidifier may be a beneficial tool for COPD patients, yet there are other options to consider regarding symptom control. In this part, we'll investigate how treatments like medications, physical activity, nutrition, and oxygen treatment can be utilized to manage COPD symptoms.
Key Takeaway: Humidifiers can assist in alleviating COPD symptoms, like coughing and chest tightness, by increasing the humidity of the air. Still, keeping an eye on humidity levels and routinely cleaning the humidifier are essential to avert bacterial build-up.
Other Ways to Manage COPD Symptoms
Medications for Managing COPD Symptoms. Medication is an important part of managing COPD symptoms and can help reduce inflammation, open up airways, and reduce mucus production.
Common medications used to treat COPD include
- oxygen therapy
Bronchodilators are the most commonly prescribed medication for COPD as they work by relaxing the muscles in your airways, which helps them stay open longer so you can breathe easier.
Corticosteroids are also used to reduce inflammation in your lungs, while mucolytics help thin out mucus, so it's easier to cough up.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if you have a bacterial infection that's causing your symptoms to worsen or if you develop pneumonia due to a flare-up of your condition.
Lastly, oxygen therapy is sometimes recommended when other treatments don't seem to work as well as expected or if you have very low oxygen levels in your bloodstream due to severe breathing difficulties caused by COPD.5
Exercise and Diet for Managing COPD Symptoms
Exercise is an important part of managing any chronic illness like COPD because it helps keep your lungs strong and healthy while improving overall fitness levels, which can help improve your quality of life.
Low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming are great options for people with respiratory conditions since they won't put too much strain on the body but still provide benefits from regular physical activity.
Additionally, consuming a nutritionally balanced diet full of fruits and veggies will guarantee that you obtain all the vital vitamins and minerals necessary for ideal well-being while avoiding processed foods with an abundance of saturated fats, which may exacerbate existing respiratory issues in the long run.6,7
When managing COPD, it is essential to remember that humidifiers may help relieve certain symptoms; however, there are many other strategies available. Hence, when devising a plan for dealing with COPD symptoms, it is essential to evaluate all accessible alternatives. Next, let's look at common mistakes to avoid when using a humidifier with COPD patients.
Key Takeaway: Living an active, balanced lifestyle with appropriate medication use can help to ameliorate COPD symptoms and bolster one's quality of life.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Humidifier with COPD Patients
Using a humidifier for COPD patients can be beneficial in helping to manage their symptoms. Yet, when utilizing a humidifier to assist with COPD symptoms, there are some missteps that should be sidestepped.
Not cleaning the unit regularly enough is one of the most serious mistakes to avoid. Humidifiers need to be cleaned and disinfected at least once every two weeks or more often if needed, depending on how frequently it is used.
Failing to keep the humidifier properly sanitized can result in mold and bacteria accumulation, potentially exacerbating breathing difficulties for those with COPD.
Not monitoring the humidity level in the room is another mistake that should be avoided when using a humidifier with COPD patients. The ideal humidity level for someone with COPD should range between 40-60%. If the moisture in the air becomes too much, this can worsen breathing difficulties and also increase the chances of getting sick. Therefore, it's important to monitor and adjust accordingly by either adding or reducing water levels in your humidifier based on readings taken from an indoor hygrometer device.
It is essential to change any standing water at least once a week, as bacteria can accumulate in the unit over time if left unchecked. This can result in mold spores being released into the air through the use of your machine, potentially leading to respiratory issues for those with COPD. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper maintenance routines throughout its lifespan.
When selecting a humidifier for those COPD, factors such as size and capacity, sound output, energy consumption, cost of purchase, and upkeep should all be taken into account.
It is recommended to look into models that come equipped with built-in sensors capable of automatically adjusting humidity settings according to user preferences set beforehand.
Additionally, easy access filter systems should be considered, which allow quick replacement during regular cleanings ensuring optimal performance each use thereafter.
Mindfulness of missteps is crucial when employing a humidifier with COPD patients, as they can have an unfavorable effect on their state. By adhering to the directions in this article, you can guarantee that your humidifier is utilized securely and proficiently. Let's now move on to exploring how to choose the right unit for your needs.
Key Takeaway: Humidifiers can be beneficial to those with COPD, yet need regular upkeep and observation for maximum effectiveness.
FAQs regarding the role of humidifier in COPD
What kind of humidifier is good for COPD?
The best type of humidifier for people with COPD is a cool mist or ultrasonic humidifier. Humidifiers of the cool mist or ultrasonic variety can be advantageous for those with respiratory issues as they add moisture to the atmosphere without introducing heat. Additionally, these types of humidifiers have filters that remove bacteria and other particles from the water before it is released into the air, helping to keep your home clean and free from allergens.
What helps people with COPD breathe better?
COPD patients may gain from an assortment of treatments and modifications to the lifestyle that can help them breathe with greater ease. Evading potential provokers, such as smoke, dust mites, pollens, and other irritants, is a key step in helping people with COPD breathe easier. Additionally, using a portable oxygen concentrator can provide supplemental oxygen when needed to reduce breathlessness. Exercise can also be beneficial in improving lung function and helping people with COPD breathe easier. Lastly, medications such as bronchodilators or steroids may be recommended by a physician to aid in widening airways and enhancing respiration.
Can high humidity make COPD worse?
Yes, high humidity can make COPD worse. High levels of humidity can bring about an augmented secretion of mucus, in addition to a diminished capability for airway clearance, both of which can lead to breathing difficulty for those with COPD. This is because the extra moisture makes it harder for oxygen to pass through the airways and into the lungs. Additionally, high levels of humidity create an environment that is more conducive to bacteria growth, which can further exacerbate symptoms associated with COPD.
Are cool or warm humidifiers better for COPD?
It is difficult to definitively answer which type of humidifier is better for COPD, as both cool and warm humidifiers can provide relief from symptoms. Cool mist humidifiers are generally more effective at adding moisture to the air, while warm mist humidifiers may be more soothing due to their warmth.
Ultimately, it boils down to personal choice and what is most effective for a particular person's needs. In general, however, using a combination of both types of humidifiers in different rooms or areas can help create an optimal environment for those with COPD.
In conclusion, it is clear that a humidifier can be beneficial for those with COPD. Coughing and breathing struggles may be eased by a humidifier, in addition to providing comfort from other indications such as a blockage.
It is essential to keep in mind that using a humidifier should not be seen as an alternative for other treatments of COPD but rather as something to supplement them.
Additionally, there are certain mistakes to avoid when using a humidifier with COPD patients so that the treatment remains effective. Ultimately, understanding how a humidifier help with COPD can lead to improved quality of life for those living with this condition.
Are you living with COPD or asthma and struggling to breathe? Don't suffer in silence any longer. With a portable oxygen concentrator, humidifier, and the right lifestyle changes, you can take control of your respiratory health.
Investing in these tools will not only help improve your breathing today but also give you greater long-term well-being for years to come. Take charge of your life now – Sprylyfe is here to provide all the information and support that you need!
- Sheikh K, Coxson HO, Parraga G. This is what COPD looks like. Respirology. 2016;21(2):224-236. doi:10.1111/resp.12611
- British Lung Foundation. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Published 2022. https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/copd/what-is-copd
- Agarwal AK, Raja A, Brown BD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. In: ; 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32644707/
- Esendağlı D, Sarınç Ulaşlı S, Esquinas A. Humidification therapy; long-term effects in COPD and OSAS patients. Tuberk Toraks. 2018;66(1):57-63. doi:10.5578/tt.66532
- Fernandes FLA, Cukier A, Camelier AA, et al. Recommendations for the pharmacological treatment of COPD: questions and answers. J Bras Pneumol publicacao Of da Soc Bras Pneumol e Tisilogia. 2017;43(4):290-301. doi:10.1590/S1806-37562017000000153
- Scoditti E, Massaro M, Garbarino S, Toraldo DM. Role of Diet in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Prevention and Treatment. Nutrients. 2019;11(6). doi:10.3390/nu11061357
- Spruit MA, Burtin C, De Boever P, et al. COPD and exercise: does it make a difference? Breathe (Sheffield, England). 2016;12(2):e38-49. doi:10.1183/20734735.003916
Written by Andy Flynn
Andy Flynn is the founder of Sprylyfe, the leading retailer of portable oxygen concentrators in the United States. He also co-founded ARYA BioMed.
Get to know him on LinkedIn.
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Eshak I. Bahbah
Dr. Eshak I. Bahbah is a highly accomplished medical professional with a diverse range of experiences in the field of medical writing, research, and biostatistics. He completed his MBBS in Medicine and Surgery from the Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University. He has published over 60 articles in high-impact factor peer-review journals, with an h-index of 14, and has reviewed more than 100 articles in pre-publication peer-review.