April 23, 2024

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The Dangers of Humidifiers: Understanding and Preventing ‘Humidifier Lung’

The Dangers of Humidifiers: Understanding and Preventing ‘Humidifier Lung’



The Dangers of Humidifiers: Understanding and Preventing ‘Humidifier Lung’

Humidifiers: Are They the Cause of Pneumonia? The Real Dangers of “Humidifier Lung” and Prevention Methods.

Humidifiers are useful for combating dry indoor air. However, many people are suffering from pneumonia due to these humidifiers. This condition is known as “humidifier lung,” which brings symptoms similar to a cold, such as coughing and fever, and has even led to deaths among the elderly.

The Growth of Mold and Bacteria in Humidifier Tanks

To understand why humidifier lung occurs and how to prevent it, we spoke with Dr. Kazuya Hashimoto, director of Hashimoto Internal Medicine and Surgery Clinic in Osaka Prefecture.

“The water vapor emitted from humidifiers can contain bacteria such as mold and Legionella. The cause is the growth of mold and bacteria in the container where water is placed for the humidifier.

Mold spores and bacteria are present in the moist air. They settle in the humidifier’s container. Although tap water is sterilized with chlorine, the chlorine dissipates after about a day in the sun. If there is any organic matter mixed in, they will breed on it.”

The Dangers of Humidifiers: Understanding and Preventing 'Humidifier Lung'

Similarities to Pneumonia Caused by Air Conditioners

The situation is similar to summer-type hypersensitivity pneumonitis caused by mold and dust released from air conditioners.

The solution for air conditioners is to thoroughly clean the inside of the equipment. Similarly, Dr. Hashimoto advises that the prevention of humidifier lung involves regularly washing the humidifier’s container.

Additionally, there is another approach.

“To prevent indoor dryness, there are ways to do so without using a humidifier. I recommend wearing a nose mask. Wet the mask slightly before putting it on. Do not cover the entire nose, but wear it so that the upper edge of the mask touches under the nose. This way, you can provide some humidity to the nasal cavity without a humidifier.”

Improve Immunity by Improving Gut Bacteria

Humidifier lung can be considered a type of allergy that causes an excessive immune response to pathogens. Therefore, Dr. Hashimoto emphasizes the importance of building immunity to avoid allergies.

“People with weakened immune systems usually have problems with their gut microbiota. While many people think that yogurt rich in lactic acid bacteria is good, it is better to take granular lactic acid bacteria. Also, be conscious of taking biotin, a B-complex vitamin. These help improve gut microbiota.”

In the next part, we will explain how to care for humidifiers to reduce the risk of humidifier lung.

The Dangers of Humidifiers: Understanding and Preventing ‘Humidifier Lung’

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