Health Watch -- It's in the Air: Humidifiers

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


We're talking about the indoor environment this week on Health Watch. Cold outdoor weather and artificial heat indoors can lead to dry indoor air. You may use a humidifier to make the indoor environment more comfortable, but doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you need to be sure your humidifier isn't adding something you don't want to the air.

Dr. Jane Siegel, a UT Southwestern infection specialist, says humidifiers are fine if you use common sense, but they can harbor infection if they aren't kept clean and dry. People who only get one or two upper respiratory infections a year should regularly clean and dry the humidifier. If you've got cystic fibrosis or another condition that increases the risk for infection, you should clean the humidifier regularly with disinfectant.

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February 2006

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