Almost everyone has experienced a cough or sore throat at some point in their life. A bad cough or sore throat can result in extreme irritation and discomfort, making even the simple act of swallowing or talking difficult and painful.
Coughs and sore throats often become worse at night when you lie down, making a restful night’s sleep nearly impossible. When a small child is congested, it’s often challenging for them to cough up mucus or blow their nose effectively to clear their nasal passageways.
It’s always recommended that you seek medical advice if you or your child experiences any of the symptoms associated with a cough or sore throat, but there are also steps you can take at home that may help alleviate your discomfort.
Causes of coughs and sore throat
In addition to bacterial infections, environmental factors like dry air, allergens, mold, smoke and chemicals can trigger a cough or sore throat. When these irritants enter our airways, our bodies often react to these foreign substances by coughing in an attempt to expel them.
In the winter, when heaters are on and many people are enclosed in smaller spaces with little air circulation, the air in our homes can dry out, making us more prone to coughs and sore throats. In many cases, coughing is the result of low humidity.
Differences between humidifiers and dehumidifiers
Humidifiers increase the humidity in the air by spraying a fine water mist. The process leads to the air having more moisture and also helps retain heat, making the area warmer, which can be an added benefit during the cold winter months.
On the other hand, dehumidifiers work by absorbing the extra moisture from the air. They are often used in humid locations during the summer months or in homes that have experienced water damage.
How humidifiers can help reduce cough and sore throat symptoms
Humidifiers are often the best choice for relieving discomfort and irritation caused by coughs, sore throats and more. Before using a humidifier, it’s advisable to understand what may be causing your cough and what kind of cough you have—wet or dry.
- Wet coughs are ones in which your respiratory tract is producing mucus. A cool mist humidifier can help moisturize the air and reduce coughing by lubricating your airways.
- Dry coughs are unproductive coughs that are often caused by dry air or an environmental irritant. Both cool and warm mist humidifiers may be effective in reducing dry cough symptoms.
Here are some additional benefits of a humidifier:
- Makes breathing easier and more comfortable. When you cough or have a sore throat, your respiratory tract tends to tighten. A warm mist humidifier releases moisture into the air that can help soothe and expand your airway.
- Improves sleep. Coughing often increases at night because mucus tends to collect as we lie flat in bed. A cool-mist humidifier can loosen mucus and reduce pain and snoring, so you can get a restful night of sleep.
- Reduces the spread of the flu. Studies have shown that flu viruses are most active and survive easier in a dry atmosphere. A humidifier may help reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria in your home.
How dehumidifies can help reduce cough and sore throat symptoms
Depending on the cause of your cough or sore throat, a dehumidifier may be the right choice to help reduce symptoms. Some benefits of dehumidifiers include:
- Mold reduction. Some coughs can be triggered by mold spores. Decreasing the moisture in the air can reduce mold growth and alleviate coughs in people who are sensitive to mold.
- Reduced asthma symptoms. For some asthma sufferers, moist air can feel heavy and make breathing more labored. Reducing the moisture in the air may improve asthma symptoms in some people.
- Reduced COPD symptoms. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are often comfortable at a relative humidity of around 40 percent. Dehumidifiers can help balance higher humidity levels, which can reduce coughing and other symptoms in COPD sufferers.
Remember that humidifiers or dehumidifiers are not cures for your cough or sore throat—they only help relieve or reduce symptoms.
Contact a professional HVAC company to help with the humidity in your home
Depending on the cause of your cough or sore throat, humidifiers and dehumidifiers can positively benefit your respiratory well-being. There are a variety of devices to choose from, including portable humidifiers, which are readily available online and in stores, and whole-house humidifiers.
Whole-house humidifiers can be installed on your furnace and programmed to automatically release moisture into the air as it warms your home. Whole-house humidifiers can be a great option because they’re highly effective and often require less maintenance and upkeep than portable units.