If you are afflicted with any of these problems, the first thing you should do is get a hygrometer. Hygrometers are available in both digital and analog versions. You will need one to check the relative humidity in your house. The ideal relative humidity is between 30% and 50%. If you are suffering from these issues and your humidity isn't below 30% you may want to go see a doctor.
Now that you have verified that you have low humidity, you will want to choose a humidifier to raise the relative humidity in your house. Humidifiers come in several varieties, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Evaporative (cool mist) - These humidifiers have a reservoir of water and use a wick to draw the water near a fan where the water evaporates. These are good because they are self-regulating but they can spread bacteria if the water is contaminated and the fan can be loud. Look for a unit with Microban technology to reduce the risk of mold and bacteria growth.
- Steam (warm mist) - These have a reservoir and a heating element that boils the water. They are very cheap and can be used with a medicated inhalant but they have a high energy cost, can cause steam burns, and hard water deposits will dramatically reduce their life. Use distilled water if you live in a hard water area.
- Other types humidifiers include impeller humidifiers, ultrasonic humidifiers, and forced air humidifiers.