While the cold weather itself may have something to do with your family’s health, there’s actually a larger, sneakier culprit that accompanies Old Man Winter each year: dry air.
As winter temperatures drop, humidity dwindles as well. While it’s true that too much moisture can lead to health complications in the summertime, too little moisture in the wintertime can be equally troubling for you and your family.
“The mucus that normally should be gooey and thick and can trap infection gets drier. So you’re more likely to get a cold because your mucus is not as able to catch things that you breathe in,” says Daniel Allen, M.D.
To maintain Healthy Humidity, the humidity in your home should ideally be set between 30-50%. Achieving this degree of humidity in the winter will go along way toward preventing influenza, bronchitis, sinusitis, aggravated asthma symptoms, itchy eyes and skin, and even nosebleeds.
We’re all familiar with the flu. In fact, chances are pretty high that you’ve had the flu in recent years, as it typically makes the rounds each winter, wreaking havoc on your lungs, nose, and throat.
The good news is that the influenza virus is preventable. According to a study provided by the Public Library of Science, “higher humidity levels indoors can significantly reduce the infectivity of influenza virus particles released by coughing.”
This study found that in an environment with 23% humidity or less, 70-77% of viral particles remained infectious. However, only 14% of virus particles were able to infect cells in an environment set to roughly 43% humidity.
Don’t simply rely on flu shots. Get a humidifier.
Bronchitis is another familiar foe during frigid winter dry spells, causing inflammation to bronchial tube linings deep in the lungs.
Fortunately, bronchitis can also be prevented and managed with proper humidity. As Dr. Michael J. Simoff, MD points out for EverydayHealth.com, “Humidity is good for lung health.”
Those who suffer from acute or chronic bronchitis should consider a whole-home humidifier to quell the effects dry winter air has on their lungs.
Living with sinusitis can seem like all pain and no gain, which begs the question…what do we even need sinuses for?
Your sinuses help you produce mucus that moisturizes the inside of your nose and captures harmful particles before they make their way deep into your body. Sinusitis is the result of inflamed sinuses that can lead to nasal congestion.
“Humidifiers can help nasal congestion in that they provide more moisture and humidity within the nose,” says Mark A Zacharek, MD for EverydayHealth.com.
“Humidified air is good for sinusitis, especially in the winter,” agrees Amber Luong, MD, PhD, assistant professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Don’t cry. Humidify.
Everyone knows somebody who’s affected by asthma. It’s an incredibly common condition. In fact, it’s quite possible that there’s even an asthmatic individual in your home right this moment.
Dry winter air can certainly trigger asthma attacks, tightening airways, and making it harder to breathe.
What’s the best way to combat these triggers? You guessed it: humidity.
According to Healthline.com, “Your airways are lined with a thin layer of fluid. When you breathe in dry air, that fluid evaporates faster than it can be replaced. Dry airways become irritated and swollen, which worsens asthma symptoms. Cold air also causes your airways to produce a substance called histamine, which is the same chemical your body makes during an allergy attack. Histamine triggers wheezing and other asthma symptoms.
Breathe easy knowing you’re making the right choice for your family.
Itchy Eyes, Dry Skin, and Nosebleeds
Winter ailments aside, perhaps the most irritating affects of dry winter air that everyone can relate to are dry, itchy eyes and skin as well as nosebleeds.
Because the air is so dry during the wintertime, the water in your body evaporates much quicker, leaving your eyes, skin, and nasal passages dry and susceptible to itchiness.
Perhaps the best way to prevent these conditions from happening, obviously, is to drink plenty of fluids, which will also help prevent dehydration.
However, another way to help alleviate these irritating manifestations and achieve a higher level of winter wellness is through maintaining proper humidity.
* * *
Again, you should aim for 30-50% humidity in your home year-round. In the wintertime, a trusted humidifier can help you prevent these winter conditions and help you hydrate your home.