Winter is coming, as they say, and as the heat turns on in your home, and the air gets colder outside, you might find that your nose is uncomfortably dry. And if you already have a stuffy nose or cold, then simply breathing and existing in your home can become a laborious, even painful, task.
Having a humidifier can do wonders for your nose, sinuses, and airways — if it's used properly, explains Miguel Wolbert, MD, a board-certified allergist in Midland, TX. In general, humidifiers can help prevent nasal irritation and nosebleeds, and keep your airways from becoming inflamed, Dr. Wolbert says. And that's a good thing, because "once the nasal passages are more lubricated, then it becomes easier to blow out the irritants, pathogens, and of course allergens that accumulate in them," he says. Think about it this way: If there's dirt on a window, spraying water and then wiping will clean it, he says. "Without the water, wiping the dirt just rubs it in even more." In winter, your sinuses are a dry and dusty window sill, metaphorically speaking.
That means that, if you are going to use a humidifier, you have to be really diligent about cleaning it properly. You want to keep up with wiping away irritants and mold, so they don't propagate with the humidified air, Dr. Wolbert says.