Does a Humidifier Help With Asthma?

Having asthma can be challenging because figuring out how to control your asthma attack triggers is complicated. With 22 million Americans being diagnosed with chronic asthma, there’s a lot of data to pull from to figure out some of the most common asthma triggers. One is cool, dry air. 

For some people, dry air can irritate their lungs and cause inflammation, which can cause wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Avoiding cool and dry air is impossible during the colder months, but there is one solution that could provide some relief to asthmatics. The best way to counteract dry air is by introducing moisture into it in a controlled environment, which can help lessen inflammation in your lungs. One way you can do this is by utilizing a humidifier in your home. 

In this article, you will learn about the effectiveness of humidifiers in alleviating asthma symptoms.

Why is Humidity Good for Asthma?

Maintaining a moderate level of humidity indoors can reduce asthma symptoms for some and help create a comfortable breathing environment. 

You’ve probably heard of using a humidifier for when you have the flu or allergies since healthy amounts of humidity can loosen congestion. This isn’t to say summer weather is ideal because hot, humid air can be uncomfortable to breathe due to how heavy the moisture in the air is. In moderation, humidity can prevent a dry throat and mouth, lessening the probability of an asthma attack to occur (if cooler weather triggers your asthma). 

woman in a room with a humidifier

Humidifier or Dehumidifier? 

Depending on your location and the weather you experience in the different seasons, you could benefit from either a humidifier or a dehumidifier in your home. 

Let’s break down the differences between the two devices:


A humidifier is an electrical device that introduces more moisture to the air. Commonly used to combat symptoms that come from dry air, so when someone is sick, experiencing seasonal allergies, or during the colder months when the air is generally drier. If you have asthma and are sensitive to dryness in your throat and lungs, a humidifier might make it easier for you to breathe. 

Humidifiers work similarly to a boiling pot of water; the device boils water to create steam that evaporates in the air. The moisture is then sent into the air through a fan in the device over a filter to prevent bacteria from infiltrating the new moist air. The one downside is that humidifiers need to be cleaned and have their filters changed every few days to ensure the device is working properly and is outputting clean moisture for you to breathe. 


dehumidifier is an electrical device that does the opposite of a humidifier; it pulls moisture out of the air until the room reaches a comfortable humidity level (typically between 30-50%). If you live in an area where the air is hot and humid, the additional moisture in the air can be harder to breathe, which can be an issue for some people with asthma. 

The device brings warm air into coils through a fan; the air is recycled back into the air while the condensation pulled from it is inside the dehumidifier’s storage tank. A dehumidifier should be cleaned once every few weeks so it works most effectively to reduce the humidity levels within your home.  

Which is Best? 

If you live in a place that has a dry climate (like the desert), a dehumidifier can make the air within your home too dry. On the other hand, if you live where it stays more humid year-round, a humidifier could make the air too heavy to breathe. Both devices have downsides and aren’t suitable for every situation; we encourage you to research and determine which would be a better fit for your home if you believe either device could be beneficial. 

man refiling a humidifier's tank

Risks of Using a Humidifier

A humidifier isn’t a cure for asthma attacks if dry air is a trigger for you. There are some risks involved in using a humidifier when having asthma; some of them include the following:

Not Proven to be Effective 

There’s no medical proof that using a humidifier can prevent asthma attacks; it depends on the individual. Some people have reported that a humidifier has reduced their number of asthma attacks when the air inside their home is dry. However, there is a chance that a humidifier won’t help at all with alleviating your asthma. 

They Can Worsen Your Asthma 

If you live in an environment where the air stays humid, adding a humidifier to your home can make the air heavier and more difficult to breathe. Some people find humid air to be a trigger for asthma, so using a humidifier could have the opposite effect. 

They Require Consistent Upkeep

Humidifiers need cleaning every few days to ensure their effectiveness. Water is also an ideal space for bacteria to breed, so purified or distilled water can help prevent contaminated moisture from entering the air. A dirty humidifier can increase the number of allergens in the air and trigger even worse asthma and allergy symptoms. 

You should also avoid using harsh chemicals to clean your device since these can worsen asthma attacks. Ideally, cleaning your humidifier with white vinegar once a week is best, replacing the water every few days.

When to Seek Medical Help For Asthma

So, does a humidifier help with asthma? If you’re sensitive to dry air, having a humidifier in your home might help prevent more frequent asthma attacks. It’s worth a try, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t cure your asthma entirely. It could help alleviate some of your symptoms, which could be worth the maintenance and upkeep. It is also good to keep an inhaler near in the event of an asthma attack.

Humidifier or not, if you experience persistent coughing or wheezing after an asthma attack, we advise you to seek immediate care at your closest emergency center. 

At Austin Emergency Centers, we are open 24/7, with little to no waits. If you’re experiencing chest pain or issues breathing, we will provide you with top-quality and unparalleled emergency care. Our teams at Austin Emergency Centers strive to give every patient quick and compassionate care. To save time, check in online, and we’ll be waiting for you at the door.