Your child has one of the many colds he will get this winter. You’re off to the drugstore to find something to help relieve his congestion. You are faced with an aisle of vaporizers and humidifiers. Cool mist, warm mist, ultrasonic, mentholated — what to choose? Which is best to help alleviate your child’s sore throat, stuffy nose and irritating cough?
Both vaporizers and humidifiers put more moisture into the air. Humidifiers use cool water to create a fine mist or spray that it releases into the air. Warm mist humidifiers use warmer water but it cools before it is blown back into the room. Steam vaporizers first boil water and then release moisture into the air. Which is better?
All vaporizers and humidifiers are effective in adding humidity to the air and providing relief from congestion, sore throats and even nose bleeds. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the use of the cool mist humidifier or vaporizer. A warm mist humidifier or steam vaporizer can cause burns if the child gets too close. As long as the product is a “cool mist,” whether you choose a vaporizer or humidifier is up to your personal preference.
Regardless of whether or not the water vapor started out warm or cool, by the time it reaches your child’s airways it is the same temperature. It’s best to go with the cool mist and protect your child from accidental burns.
Here is a handy guide to get you through cold season:
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: January 2013