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Managing Humidity

Tips for Managing Humidity

Squirting some sterile saline into your stoma can help loosen thick mucus and help you cough it up. You will be shown how and when to do this by your nurse.

Use humidifiers in your home.Try to keep the humidity your home at 40-60% relative humidity.

Wearing an HME (Heat/Moisture Exchange) filter raises the humidity and heat of the air you breathe by temporarily storing both in the filter when you exhale and returning it to the lungs when you inhale again. The filters are also excellent at filtering out the impurities found in the air around us we breathe.

Some people use filtering and moistening systems. Your stoma nurse can tell you about these.

Custom made stoma protection serves to protect your stoma but also filter and humidity the air you breathe. For extra humidity, spray the stoma cover with sterile water from a spray bottle. When you travel you can carry the small spray bottle containing water to re-dampen it.

A nebulizer produces an atomized spray for moistening the mucous membranes. But, be careful, the solution must be determined in consultation with your doctor and must be changed every day to prevent growth of germs.

Reduce humidity in your home by increasing ventilation, increasing the indoor temperature, using fans, running the AC, taking shorter, colder showers and by using a dehumidifier.

Use distilled water in your humidifier, not water straight from the tap

If your secretions are thick, hard to cough out or have small blood streaks, you need more humidity. Use your humidifier as much as needed to keep your secretions thin and able to be coughed out.

Heat-moisture exchangers are for daytime use only. At night, wear a Buchanan bib over your stoma.

Sleeping in a cool room at night may help to keep your airways moist.

Mouth care is also very important. Rinsing your mouth with normal saline or plain water is helpful.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluids each day to help keep the mucus in your airways thin

Do not just drink water when you are thirsty but drink enough water and other liquids during the day since water from your body is the building material for the formation of protective mucus. If you think you are slightly dehydrated or becoming so, before you get in real trouble, start drinking water. 

If you have an automatic whole house humidifier, your job is easy. You just set the humidity level like you set the temperature with your thermostat. The rest of us have portable humidifiers and humidity gauges to check it. You can buy portable humidifiers which have an automatic on and off function when they reach the set humidity, but they are not inexpensive.

You can get some temporary relief from dryness when you take a steamy shower, breathe in the steam from boiling water (don’t get too close), or use a nebulizer.