Living in the Right Humidity Level Matters
Why should you care about humidifying your home? Maybe you hate humidity and can’t stand the thought of any moisture in the air. Or, you’re here because you hate dry climates and what they do to your skin and health. It could also be any combination of both.
(image from livestrong.com)
Whether you’re on the side of hating dryness or hating humidity more, there are health risks to having either humidity that’s too low or too high. Having a humidifier isn’t just a way to increase the humidity, but it’s a great way to control the humidity to exactly where you want it. Humidity that goes above 55% is an invitation for trouble like mold and fungus while humidity well below 30% invites a lot of health issues that come with dry air. Studies show that the optimum humidity is right around 35-45%.
While we’ve touched on these health issues and benefits in our Humidity and Health Issues post, here’s an easy to digest list of what you can expect by taking care of the humidity in your home.
#1 Better breathing and sinus comfort
Breathing problems can come from a variety of sources. Ranging from congestion to infections or chronic health problems, breathing problems can hit us in any season. Having humidity that’s too low will often lead to congestion from the buildup of mucus. Our bodies start to compensate for dry air by producing more mucus to protect the sensitive linings of your respiratory system. If humidity is too high, however, it can make your body feel like it’s harder to breathe. Keeping humidity at an optimal balance of about 35-45% will combat both sides of the coin.
(image from medicinenet.com)
#2 Reduced infections from viruses and bacteria
Both low humidity and high humidity can add to more infections from viruses and bacteria. There are strains of pathogens that thrive in really dry environments and others that do well in humid environments. During the winter though, most people face homes that are too dry, especially as the heating comes on as the weather gets colder. In dry homes, droplets of viruses and bacteria can also better stay airborne, increase your chances for infection.
(image from newhealthadvisor.com)
#3 Faster recovery from sickness
Living in a very dry home will dry out the sensitive linings of your sinus, throat, and lungs. This is most easily felt when it’s hard to breathe or when you’re getting suffering from dry, hacking coughs. The mucus linings in your body help protect you from getting infected by bacteria or viruses. Mucus is easily coughed up and if your body can’t handle the dry air, you’re at higher risk for staying sick. Having proper humidity levels allows your body to maintain a healthy lining of mucus, protecting you from any sickness from getting worse or inviting other illness into your body.
#4 Better sleep and improved sleep apnea
If you have any issues with sleep apnea or other sleeping issues caused by breathing problems, humidity may be your solution to a good night’s rest. Similar to point #1, good humidity levels directly correspond to better breathing comfort. The slightest congestion or imbalance in your breathing can keep you up or cause discomfort through the night. If controlling humidity alone isn’t enough to resolve your issues, consult a medical professional about what other solutions are available to you.
#5 No more nose bleeds
One of the most noticeable effects of dry air for some people is bleeding from the nose, especially in the mornings when you wake up. If you find yourself horrified by what you find in the sink every morning, look to getting a humidifier to fix your problems with dry air. Breathing in harsh, dry air all night dries out your nose and builds congestion that you need to clear in the morning. Lowering the heat can also help with excessively dry air. But one last tip to keep in mind is to avoid forceful blowing. If your nose is sensitive from dry air all night, you want to be sure to treat your nose gently.
#6 Less shocks from static electricity
This point isn’t so much a serious health issue as it is a point of minor discomfort. As you get deeper into the winter, you might notice that you get shocked much more often every time you reach for a doorknob. If that’s the case, it’s a clear sign that the humidity in your home is too low. Higher humidity makes it harder for static charge to build up, sparing you from an unpleasant surprise each time you touch some metal.
#7 Reduced asthma symptoms
Asthma symptoms in the winter are commonly caused by cold, dry air. Cold, dry air dries out the linings in your lungs, which is often a trigger for asthma attacks. This is why heavy breathing from exercise is a common cause of asthma attacks. Keeping the air humid is the first step in combating asthma symptoms that come from dry air. The next step is to make sure you don’t overdo the humidity. Air that’s too humidity is a harboring ground for mold and fungus, which are harmful to anybody, whether you have asthma or not. Very humid air can also make it feel harder to breathe, which by itself can trigger asthma symptoms.
#8 Less dehydration or thirst
Dry air can dry out your throat, which can feel like you’re thirsty. But another aspect of dry air is that it can pull more moisture from your lungs each time you take a breath. If there’s a bigger difference in the moisture levels between the air you breathe and what’s in your lungs, each breath will pull more moisture out. Dry air also makes it easier for moisture to leave your body through your skin. Water is a vital component of your health and enables critical body functions. It’s important to stay hydrated all the time, and having a well-humidified home will help you stay hydrated, too.
(image from rd.com)
#9 Reduced dry eye symptoms
If you have issues with dry eyes, humidity can play a part in keeping your eyes comfortable, too. Whether you have dry eyes naturally or as a side effect of an operation like LASIK, many dry eye patients find that being in a humid climate greatly increases the comfort of their eyes. Each person has a rate that their own eyes produces tears, which keep your eyes moist and hydrated. The drier the air, the faster the moisture in your eyes dry up. If your tear ducts can’t keep up with how quickly your eyes dry out, you’ll always be uncomfortable. Moving may not be a realistic option for you, so humidifying your home is going to be your best bet to stay comfortable at home.
#10 Fewer indoor allergies
Dust mites are one of the most common causes of indoor allergies. They live off the dust in your home and produce waste that many people are allergic to. Dust mites do well in higher humidity, so this is one of those instances where you need to watch out for humidity getting too high in your home. On the other side of it though, dry air will expose you to allergens more easily in your body, past the protective linings in your nose and lungs.
#11 No more chapped lips
Chapped lips are a common nuisance in the winter. They’re unsightly and your lips can also split and crack when it’s too dry. If you’re not using chapstick, you might even bite at your chapped lips obsessively, sometimes peeling away too much skin. However you deal with chapped lips, we can agree it’s annoying to deal with. Humidifying your home can make chapped lips less of a problem while you’re at home, especially as you sleep overnight.
#12 Relieve dry, itchy skin issues (eczema, psoriasis)
Dry skin is another of the most obvious signs of dry air. It’s personally uncomfortable and can range from a mild annoyance to serious discomfort. If you’re especially sensitive, you may notice your skin become scaly and crack. And if you battle with chronic skin issues like eczema and psoriasis, dry air will only make those worse.
(image from aad.org)
#13 Keep your skin young and vibrant
Many factors contribute to premature aging of your skin. The most common ones are UV rays, poor health, and improper skin care. Other factors in aging are also overly dry or dehydrated skin. Dry skin loses its elasticity and can make wrinkles more pronounced. Using sunscreen and lotions is a great immediate shield against dry skin, but keeping your home humidified will allow your body to naturally maintain the moisture and health of your skin as well.
#14 Nurture a healthy scalp and hair
Some people may notice that their scalp gets a little flaky when their scalp is dry and itchy. Thinking it’s dandruff, they go out to buy dandruff shampoo, only to find that it doesn’t help at all. The problem is that dry air dries out your scalp and the oils that naturally protect your hair. Dandruff shampoo only dries out your scalp even worse, which doesn’t help you at all with the original problem. Maintaining a good amount of moisture in your home enables your scalp to naturally produce oils in a health balance, protecting the health of your hair.
#15 Reduced VOCs and ozone in your home
Our homes are filled with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that come from ordinary things around your household like your furniture and walls. These VOCs can also react with sunlight to form ozone, which is a common source of free radicals in the air. Free radicals are compounds that easily with things your body, leading to health problems. Keeping humidity between 35-45% is the best way to combat both ozone and VOCs. VOCs are most plentiful in high humidity environments while ozone likes to form best in dry air.
#16 Stay warmer in the winter
We’ve all experienced how higher humidity can make a hot summer day feel even more miserable. On a similar note, more humidity in your home can also help your home feel warmer as you heat it in the winter. In addition to the health benefits listed above, you can feel more comfortable at home while reducing your heating bill by keeping your home a few degrees lower when it’s more humid.
(image from thebudgetdiet.com)