You should be using a humidifier when you sleep — just not for the reason you may think

For many of us, humidifiers and sickness go hand in hand. Feeling a cold, cough, or the flu coming on? Instinctively, you grab your humidifier from storage, give it a quick clean and set it up by your bed — then hope for the best.

But experts like Dr. Arfa Babaknia, family medicine physician and medical director at MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California, suggest that neither steam nor cool-mist humidifiers are encouraged in the management of a cold or a cough, specifically.

“There is a lack of data supporting the effect of the cold or steam humidifier and also concerns about the correct way of use (complications such as risk of burn and, if the patient has asthma, developing bronchospasm),” Babaknia says.

That doesn’t mean you should toss yours out. In fact, there are many benefits of using a humidifier. Sleeping with one can soothe and ease a variety of health and beauty issues that are causing you a great deal of discomfort.

“I do recommend the humidifier to be used for the patient with a dry cough and especially a patient with sleep apnea, heavy snoring, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], sinusitis, and allergic rhinitis to loosen up the phlegm,” Babaknia says. He adds that patients with dry nasal passages (most often a result of hay fever or a side effect of medication) also benefit from sleeping with a humidifier in their room.

More: What You Can Do to Prepare for Allergy Season Now

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