Spring is still a few weeks away, and here in Connecticut we are, no doubt, still in for several more crisp nights. Your kids have been stuffy, sneezy, and nauseated at various times during this winter – albeit a tepid one by New England standards – and you’re almost through the finish line.
Not only cooler temperatures but low humidity makes this an uncomfortable time of year. While in summer we often complain about too much humidity, in the winter every body part seems to get chapped and so dry it can be painful.
Besides Vitamin C, lots of sleep and hand washing, an effective buffer to winter’s punch is a good humidifier. For kids, this examiner loves Vicks SweetDreams Cool Mist Humidifier, which projects an array of wildlife and marine life images such as dolphins and giraffes on the ceiling. No filter is required, and you can use or discard the accompanying Vicks Vapopads with menthol scent (I tried it without, and it worked beautifully.)
Why the humidifier? As if dry skin isn’t bad enough, when kids suffer severe coughs, pneumonia or even croup, winter can be potentially life threatening.
This examiner wanted to find out if the new humidifier from Kaz would actually help keep the wee ones well.
On e-mail, two doctors were tapped for their expertise to explain how humidification helps kids suffering from cough and congestion.
Dr. Ted Myatt., senior scientist with Environmental Health & Engineering and the University of Rhode Island, is currently working with Vicks Humidifiers to educate people on why maintaining relative indoor humidity levels is important for our health.
What are parents concerned about for their kids who need humidifiers?
Humidifiers offer an effective solution to counteract the effects of dry, harsh winter air by adding essential moisture to any room – perfect for temporary relief for dry nose, flaky skin, chapped lips, and general indoor air comfort. When it comes to children, the Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a cool mist humidifier, like the Sweet Dreams Cool Mist Humidifier, throughout the winter months to help relieve congestion and coughs for children. In addition, recent research in the journal Environmental Health has shown that survival of the influenza virus in the air and on surfaces is reduced by adding moisture to indoor air to an optimal relative humidity level of between 40 – 60 percent.
It’s nearly spring. Do kids still need humidifiers in a month? Do adults? Why?
While it’s particularly important to run a humidifier during the winter months when air tends to be colder and drier where relative indoor humidity levels can reach as low as 10 percent, it’s important to keep your home at optimal humidity year-round as items in your home can also benefit from proper humidification. Believe it or not, items such as wood floors and furniture can become warped and crack due to indoor relative humidity levels being too low.
What is the optimum level of humidification in a room for kids versus adults?
There is no difference in the optimum level of humidification for kids versus adults.
Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, an assistant clinicial prof. of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai, has been working with Vicks Humidifiers to help families understand the benefits of humidification during cold and flu season.
My first memories were inside a croup tent. Is this common? What should parents be wary of?
Croup is most often caused by a virus, and children between the ages of three months to five years are the most affected. Essentially the condition causes swelling of the voice box (larynx and trachea) which causes the barky sounding cough and the difficulty in breathing. Though scary, the good news is that most can be treated at home.
Make sure that your child is drinking well and not dehydrated and try to keep them relaxed and calm (a favorite book, program or music). Often remaining in a more upright position seems to make child more comfortable than lying flat. Though there are no specific studies done to prove that steam from shower or humidification improve breathing, I have seen it help tremendously and most pediatricians continue to recommend this easy first line home remedy to quiet the irritation receptors in the upper airways. However, if symptoms worsen or there is concern always check in with your doctor or go to the ER for evaluation.
Were more kids with croup hospitalized say, back in the 60’s, when I was?
I’m not sure how common it was in the 60’s compared to now. That said, according to the Mayo Clinic, 5 percent of children with croup that are seen in the ER need to be admitted for further medical support, whether it be for further evaluation and treatment of more severe respiratory distress symptoms like stridor, low oxygen levels, or breathing too fast. In addition, hospitalization may be necessary for dehydration, IV fluids and medications.
Croup is an extremely common respiratory illness in kids and it can occur more than once. To a parent the barky cough and noises are scary to hear and see, but luckily most children don’t need to be hospitalized for croup.
The SweetDreams Cool Mist Humidifier is available online and at brick and mortar retailers alike including Babies R Us, Target, and Amazon.