Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

From Women’s Health

Let’s be real: Waking up with allergies each morning—the stuffy nose, the puffy eyes—can make you want to skip everything else and go right back to bed. Since you definitely can’t do that, it might be time for an air purifier—a portable device that can help filter or clean the air of allergens (think: dust, animal dander, cigarette smoke) and odors.

While it won’t necessarily make your allergies go away, an air purifier can help with symptoms or prevent them from getting worse, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

When patients with dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis used air purifiers in their bedrooms and living rooms for six weeks, their ability to breath improved so much that they could reduce their medication requirements, per a study in the Yonsei Medical Journal. Woah.

Air filters have also been shown to lower concentrations of asthma triggers and allergens, like cat dander and respiratory viruses, by over 50 percent, effectively reducing symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers, found a study in the Journal of Asthma.

When shopping for an air purifier, it’s a wise idea to zero in on ones with HEPA (which stands for high-efficiency particulate air) filters, the AAAAI notes. These filters are extremely efficient at stripping the air of contaminants and circulate the air in a room multiple times an hour, trapping particles at each pass. (Asthma sufferers: Skip ionizer air purifiers, which use an electric field to capture allergens, as they can generate ozone and potentially worsen asthma symptoms.)

It’s also important to keep in mind that some air purifiers can also double as humidifiers. Humidifiers work to adjust the humidity level of a room so that the air isn’t so dry, which can also irritate skin and airways. Air purifiers focus on air quality and making it cleaner by removing small particles like dust or dander that can also cause skin irritation and respiratory issues like allergies.

Beyond that, choosing the air cleaner best suited for you really comes down to personal preference, and you may want to consider other factors like size, sound, style, and price point when you’re buying. Here’s how to pick the air purifier that’s right for you.

What should I look for in an air purifier?

When shopping for an air purifier, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. The first is to look for a filter that can remove 0.03 micron-sized particles and 99.97 percent of allergens. Look to the product description to find this info, says Sanjeev Jain, MD, board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy.

You can also check to see if the air purifier is effective by making sure it has a seal from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL). “The AAFA and ASL have teamed up to create a certification program to help guide consumers to choose effective allergy and asthma-friendly products including air purifiers,” says Dr. Jain.

Other things you can consider when shopping for an air purifier include:

Type of filter
The type of filter it’s made with can tell you a lot about how effective an air purifier is, like what kinds and size of particles they are able to filter. The filter will usually have a rating that will tell you more about how well it works. “Filter rating systems such as the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) are commonly used by industry professionals to rate the filter on its ability to remove certain particle sizes from the air,” says Dr. Jain. “In general, a higher value on these grading scales indicate a filter capable of removing smaller particles from the air, which is ideal.”

HEPA filters can typically filter out most kinds of particles, says Dr. Jain, and so they might have MERV ratings of 13, 14, or 15. HEPA filters are ideal for most home settings. For reference, purifiers with a MERV rating of 1-4 can filter out small particles such as pollen, dust mites, sand, and carpet fibers, while something with a MERV rating of 17-21 can filter out even smaller particles like combustion smoke and carbon dust. These kind of filters can help trap allergens to reduce a person’s exposure while indoors especially when particles are more likely to be airborne such as during vacuuming, using a fan, or using central heating or air conditioning, says Dr. Jain.

What you need to filter
Before you purchase an air purifier, you should consider what you’re trying to remove from the air. For example, you may need a a filter that works for smaller particles if you’re trying to remove smoke. If not, you might be able to get away with a filter with a lower MERV rating for dust mites, pet dander, or other indoor allergens, says Dr. Jain.

If you experience irritation to chemicals like perfumes and other solvents, you may also want to make sure your filter is made with activated charcoal, which can remove the chemical vapors, says Dr. Jain.

Filter size
The size of the air purifier appropriate for you will depend on the size of the space you wish to filter,” explains Dr. Jain. Most air purifiers contain specs that indicate the size of the room it’s able to filter. But ideally, the filter unit should be able to circulate the room air through the filter six times every hour, adds Dr. Jain.

Price point
Some air purifiers are a lot pricier than others, so you may want to keep price point in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an effective and affordable option. Just make sure that you pay special attention to the air purifier’s product specifications so it works for your needs.

Other features
Other things you may want to consider are the air purifier’s sound, or ability to also humidify air. Some machines are noisier than others, so if that’s something that will bother you, that could help rule out some options. Some machines also contain a humidification feature. “This may be beneficial during the winter or for patients with an irritated airway or nasal passages from asthma or allergies,” says Dr. Jain, though he recommends using these with caution as they can also promote the growth of dust mites and mold. To avoid this, keep humidity in the house between 30 and 50 percent.

Check out this list of the best air purifiers you can buy online to help you narrow down your options—and start breathing easier.

1. Rabbit Air BioGS 2.0 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier

Not only is this a top-performing device (it has a 4.9-star average from reviewers), it also has a discreet display, so its glow won’t keep you up at night. An added bonus: It can filter a room as large as 625 square feet twice an hour.

2. Pure Enrichment PureZone 3-in-1 Air Purifier

This ultra-quiet machine removes particles and sanitizes the air silently, so it won’t mess with your sleep or annoy you. The model is on the smaller side, so it’s perfect in a smaller room.

3. Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Air Purifier

It’s expensive, but this Dyson air purifier is arguably the prettiest filter to look at, and functions as a fan and space heater as well. It also oscillates to spread purified air throughout your room, and has a nighttime mode with quiet and dimmed settings.

4. VEVA 8000 Elite Pro Series Air Purifier

This air purifier removes super-small particles like dust and dander and eliminates odors. Users say it literally brings a breath of fresh air into the room.

5. Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover

This purifier filters and circulates room air up to 5 times per hour, and captures up to 99.97 percent of microscopic allergens so you can breath easier.

6. Winix True HEPA 6300-2 Air Cleaner

Perfect for larger spaces, this air purifier can filter the air in rooms up to 400 square feet, and uses a 4-stage filtration system to ensure it’s pumping out the cleanest air possible.

7. LEVOIT Air Purifier

Not only is this air purifier super cheap, but it’s also an Amazon best-selling item (it has nearly 4,500 customer reviews and nearly 70 percent are five-star ratings). Most of the reviews celebrate how fresh and clean their homes smell now (especially if they’ve dealt with pet odors in the past).

8. Blueair HealthProtect 7470i Smart Air Purifier

This air purifier can filter a large bedroom or living room in 12 minutes. In addition to removing certain bacteria and viruses from the air and small particles like dust and pollen, its filter is also made with a layer of activated carbon to get rid of odors and other chemicals. It’s also made with HEPASilent Ultra technology that keeps noise minimal.

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