Why A Dry Air Winter is Bad For Your Health

We usually close the windows and seal in the heat as best we can in the winter. Right? We learned last month that we should be opening our windows occasionally this winter because the air inside our homes is more polluted than the air outside. And yes, it’s at its worst in the winter. This month we learn why even opening the windows in a dry air winter may not go far enough.

Myth: Cold Air Makes You Sick

While we’ve believed this myth for more than a century, we now know that cold air DOES NOT make us sick. In fact, according to Rachel C. Vreeman, MD, co-author of Don’t Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health, the exact opposite is true. “Cells that fight infection in the body increase if you go out into the cold,” as a way of combatting the stress your body experiences when in freezing temperatures.

Reality: Dry Air Winter Causes Problems.

Because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, the humidity levels naturally drop as the cold weather arrives. We tend to appreciate this, especially when we’ve had a long, hot and humid summer. Since the drop is gradual, we often don’t realize that humidity is often the cause of several common winter issues which affect our health and comfort.

Dry and scratchy throat and nose – Have you ever woken in the middle of the night to a dry and scratchy throat when you’re not sick? Low humidity levels that dry out and irritate the upper part of your respiratory system, your throat, and nasal passages cause the itch. In addition to being painful and causing nose bleeds, it can lead to other health issues.

Viruses and colds – While cold air doesn’t cause bugs or viruses, the low humidity in the cold air doesn’t help our bodies prevent them either.

When the moist membranes in your upper respiratory system lose too much moisture to dry air, their ability to capture the germs, viruses, and bacteria (all those icky things that make you sick) is compromised.

Skin problems – It doesn’t matter if it’s just dry, itchy skin, chapped lips, acne, or eczema, it’s almost always worse in a dry air winter. Why?

Your skin is over 50% water. When air lacks humidity, it absorbs moisture wherever it finds it. Your skin is a source of moisture for the sky.

Air circulation only matters when it’s the right kind of air circulating in your home.

In the summer, you want to remove humidity from the air. In the winter, you need to add it.

The optimal winter, indoor, humidity level is 45 percent. But because it’s cold outside, we are continually heating the air inside our houses and thus reducing its humidity. Adding a humidifier to your household heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system will allow you to control the moisture in your home and improve your comfort all year long.

Are you suffering the symptoms of dry air? Is it affecting your health? Your comfort? Help is available. With answers to all your heating, air-conditioning, and humidifier questions, Sunrise Heating and Plumbing, West Michigan’s indoor air quality specialist has a solution. Call them today.