Why Dry Indoor Air is Your Invisible Enemy

December 07, 2016

Jennifer Erskine, MD, MSIS
Medical Director, Shore Physicians Group Hospitalists

Don’t let your guard down – cold season is in full effect. The combination of winter’s dry air, a turned-up thermostat, and closed windows can wreak havoc on your respiratory system.  Raising the thermostat when it’s cold is convenient but wearing a thick sweater instead is greener and healthier. Do you wake up thirsty? Coughing? Dry sinuses, bloody noses, itchy skin and a scratchy throat are just some of the symptoms you may experience – and an indication there is not enough humidity in your living space.

Humidifiers can help soothe these familiar problems caused by indoor air. Cold air dries mucus, making it harder to clear from your nasal passages. Moist air helps loosen it.  Getting a quality humidifier has its benefits. Avoid using tap water in your humidifier, because the minerals in it may be dispersed in the air as white dust. I suggest using demineralized water, and replace filters as recommended by the manufacturing company.

Be cautious and avoid over usage as allowing a unit to expel too much moisture can create condensation on the walls. This water can then turn into mold and spread throughout the home. Monitoring moisture levels and regular maintenance can ensure you get all the benefits of moistened air without all the risks. When used with care, humidifiers can make a significant difference when it comes to dry skin and airways. However keep in mind that this is a home remedy – not medical treatment.

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