How Dry Air Affects Your Health

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The average American is indoors 90% of the time, making keeping indoor air at optimal moisture levels very important for a number of health reasons.

As we transition into the colder season in the Buffalo area, not only can we expect snow and frigid temperatures, we know that dry air will also be around. With the cold, comes bundling up next to a fire, shoveling your driveway, cracked and irritated skin, and increased susceptibility to illnesses. While you can’t control the weather, you can control how dry air affects your health. By adding moisture to the air in your home, you can avoid some of the annoying things that come with the low humidity in the late fall and winter months.

What are the health effects of dry air?

The average American is indoors 90% of the time, making keeping indoor air at optimal moisture levels very important for a number of health reasons. Let’s review the health effects dry air can create for you and your family.

Respiratory Issues: According to medical experts, breathing dry air can cause respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nosebleeds. Breathing dry air also can cause dehydration since body fluids are depleted during respiration (Cleveland Clinic).

Sore Throat: Dry air can cause issues to the throat and make it hard to swallow, cause pain, and increase inflammation. In a 2013 study, involving 45 volunteers, researchers sent a stream of cold, dry air into the throats of study participants. The lower the temperature and humidity of the air, the more pain and irritation the volunteers reported.

Dry and Irritated Skin: Cold winter air is dry because it holds less moisture than warm air. Wintertime humidity is very low, so what little moisture that is around is quickly dissolved into the air. This means that moisture evaporates more quickly from your body, which dries out your skin. If you already have a condition like atopic dermatitis or eczema, dry air could make the problem worse.

Stress Level: In a 2020 study, researchers monitored the heart rates and stress levels of workers in four separate buildings with varying levels of air humidity. The researchers found that those who worked in the buildings with drier air had heart rates that indicated a stress response. The same participants also reported poorer sleep (healthline).

Risk of Illness: Evidence indicates that dry air may increase your risk of getting the flu, a cold, or other respiratory illnesses. A 2016 study revealed a spike in deaths from flu and pneumonia following cold weather snaps. The authors of the study indicated that heated, dry air may prolong the life of viruses indoors. Dry air may also affect your ability to fight off viral infections by weakening and reducing your nasal mucus, part of your body’s natural defense against these illnesses.

How can you combat how dry air?

How dry air affects your health, depends on you and your home’s humidity levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you keep the humidity in your home or workspace between 30 and 50%. Along with humidifiers, there are other things you can do to try to keep the health effects of dry air at bay.

Properly seal your home. This will keep as much cold, dry air outside as possible.
Thoroughly hydrate often. You should always drink plenty of water and this is especially true in the colder months when there is less moisture in the air.
Take shorter and colder showers. Hot long showers can dry out your skin.
Moisturize your body and lips. Adding moisturizers to skin immediately after a shower can help to seal in some of the moisture from the water.

Dry air effects on your health can be minimal if you prepare for the colder air.

Humidifiers in your home can make a difference. At Reimer Home Services we are here to help you ensure that your Western New York home is at the ideal humidity level. Our team of local HVAC and plumbing experts are all a “Wizard of Comfort” and are here to get the job done for you.

Throughout the Buffalo area, we’re known for our friendly, courteous service. We won’t let you down. Contact us today.

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