Can Humidifiers Help With Pneumonia?

Last updated on May 11, 2022 FEATURED
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Pneumonia is one of the several diseases that significantly affect the respiratory system. It is an infection that inflames the air sacs in the lungs. Pneumonia can be mild, but can also be life-threatening. As part of treatment, patients are always advised to live in areas with ideal humidity levels. This has prompted questions like “can humidifiers help with pneumonia."

Humidifiers are common household device that help moisten dry air. In this case, we would like to take the opportunity to answer the above question.  The article discusses pneumonia and the role of humidifiers in its treatment.

What Is Pneumonia?

As highlighted above, pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs. When the air sacks enlarge, fluids or pus may fill them making one cough with pus, get a fever, spit up phlegm, and have difficulty in breathing.

According to WebMD, anyone can get this infection, but children below the age of 2 and people over the age of 65 are more at risk. The article stipulates that these people’s immune system is usually not strong enough to fight the infection. Important to note, pneumonia can affect one or both lungs. In fact, some people are already infected but they do not know, this is what the doctors call walking pneumonia.

Some of the common symptoms of pneumonia include but are not limited to;

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cough
  • Chest pain

Causes of Pneumonia

According to research, there are various causes of pneumonia. Some of the common causes of pneumonia include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) asserts that the common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial. Furthermore, bacterial pneumonia is caused by pneumococcus.

Also, lifestyle habits can also raise the chances of getting pneumonia. For instance, smoking cigarettes and excessive consumption of alcohol.

Can Humidifier Help with Pneumonia?

Image showing a humidifier

Yes, a humidifier can help with pneumonia. Although humidifiers cannot prevent nor cure pneumonia, they can help relieve symptoms and ease breathing. In fact, Stanford Children’s Heath recognizes the use of a humidifier as part of the treatment plan.

Humidifiers can moisten the air, making it easy to breathe. This helps to relieve cough, which enables the patient relax better. Scientists believe relaxing your body is important when treating pneumonia.

Humidifiers can also make the nasal passage moist. This can help keep the passages open, thus improving breathing.

Can Humidifier Worsen Pneumonia?

Image showing a woman coughing
Woman Coughing

Yes, humidifiers can put pneumonia patients at risk. Technically, humidifiers should help improve your health, but if misused, they can make matters worse. There are two ways in which your humidifier can make a pneumonia infection worse.

  • Poor Maintenance

You are supposed to frequently clean your humidifier. If left uncleaned, microorganisms such as bacteria and molds can grow in the tank. These can be released into the air. If inhaled, they can irritate the lungs, thus worsening the condition.

Also, the chemicals used to clean can be a source of problems. For instance, some people use bleach or other strong chemicals to clean the humidifier tank. In case some residues remain, they can be released into the air when the humidifier is turned on. These can also worsen respiratory conditions.

  • High Humidification

Scientists recommend 30-50% humidity levels as a healthy range. However, if your humidifier generates more than 50% humidity levels, pneumonia patients might be at risk. Excessive humidity usually favors the growth of dust mites and molds. These are known for irritating the respiratory system and can make pneumonia worse. 

Which Humidifier Is Good For Pneumonia?

A good humidifier for pneumonia should have the following features.

  • Humidistat

As indicated above, excessive humidity can make pneumonia symptoms worse. So, you need to look out for a humidifier with a humidistat. A humidistat allows the humidifier to detect the current humidity and automatically adjust the fan speed. So, you can preset the humidity level to 50, and the unit will maintain it.

In case you already purchased a humidifier without a humidistat, you can add a hygrometer. This also monitors the current humidity levels. You can keep checking on it and if you find the humidity is beyond 50%, you can turn off the humidifier.

  • Easy To Clean

A good humidifier for pneumonia should be easy to clean. Therefore, you need to get a humidifier with a wide tank opening. This will help you insert your hand and clean it thoroughly.

  • Area Coverage

A good humidifier for pneumonia should be able to humidify a whole room or house. To be on the safer side, it is advised to install a whole-house humidifier.

Tips For Using Humidifier For Pneumonia

  • Use Distilled or Demineralized Water

Tap water contains some mineral chemicals that may create deposits in the humidifier. When released into the air, these minerals can worsen pneumonia. So, you should use distilled or demineralized water as they hold little to no mineral content.

  • Frequently Clean The Humidifier

Humidifiers are prone to bacteria, molds, and other microorganisms that can worsen pneumonia. In this case, you need to clean the tank at least every after 3 days. Moreover, when cleaning you should use soap.

  • Consider Replacing Filters

With time filters can build up deposits. These can affect the performance of a humidifier. Ultimately, you should frequently replace your filter to maintain the humidifier performance.

  • Refill The Tank Daily

You should not let your humidifier operate with the same water for more than one day. You need to change the water on a daily basis to prevent deposits from building up in the humidifier.


Humidifiers can help you with pneumonia. If used appropriately, humidifiers can alleviate the symptoms of pneumonia. This can help the patient sleep better. When a patient rests well, it improves the chances of the body responding to the treatment. 

However, if misused they can make an infection worse and can be life-threatening. You just have to follow proper use guidelines as provided above to keep safe. Otherwise, it is always a good idea to add a humidifier as part of your treatment plan for pneumonia.

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