Dry air can affect your health in various ways. There are chances of an increased risk of many illnesses because of the dry air. Let us read further and know about various ways dry air can affect your health.
What Causes Dry Air?
The relative humidity of any house is the amount of moisture present in the air relative to the maximum amount of water vapor that the air can hold at any particular temperature. It is recommended by EPA to keep the relative humidity in any house/building between 30% to 50%.(1) Having an excess of moisture in the air can cause lots of problems in the house, like the growth of mold and mildew. Apart from causing the negative impacts on your house, dry air can also affect your health negatively.
Dry air is mostly formed during the winter months. As the air gets colder, it loses a few of its ability to retain moisture. This is why you should prepare your house before the upcoming winter months. As in the indoors, the air gets drier, it can begin to have a negative impact on your house, and also your health.
8 Ways in Which Dry Air Can Affect Your Health:
There are various ways dry air can affect your health. From irritated eyes and sinuses to respiratory and skin problems, overexposure to dry air can result in several types of symptoms. It might also increase your risk of certain diseases.
Since the average American remains to stay indoors 90% of the time, it is important to keep your indoor air at an optimal moisture level and prevent many health problems.(2)
Causes of Sore Throat:
Have you ever woken up in the night and found it difficult to swallow? This might be because of the dry air that can cause pain and inflammation in the throat.
In a study of 2013, that involved 45 volunteers, researchers have sent a stream of cold and dry air into the throats of the participants.(3) The lower the temperature and humidity of the air, the more was the pain and irritation that were reported by the volunteer.
Results In Respiratory Problems:
One more way dry air can affect your health is that it can cause several respiratory problems. As per medical experts, symptoms of asthma, especially spasms, can get worse by dry air.
When we are in an extremely low humidity environment, the fluid that hydrates our bronchial tubes can evaporate quickly. This can cause irritation in your airways. This particularly happens during winter days.
Apart from asthma, one might experience symptoms of sinusitis, bronchitis, and many other respiratory problems can worsen due to excessive cold dry air.
Dry Air Causes Dry Skin And Dermatitis:
As per researchers, dry indoor air, particularly air-conditioned environments, can cause dry and rough skin. This can also worsen the symptoms of eczema.(4)
Excessive dry air can also reduce the elasticity of your skin. In addition to this, dry air can even weaken the barrier function of your skin. Thus, when you come in contact with irritants or allergens, your skin might get easily damaged.
Please note it down that if you are already having a condition, such as atopic dermatitis, dry air could worsen your problem.
Dry Air Can Cause Eye Irritation:
Dry air might affect the tear film of your eye that protects your cornea from any damage. There might be small dry patches formed on your eyes, thus leaving you more vulnerable to several other kinds of eye irritants.
It is thus recommended for you that you take breaks often to help restore moisture to your eyes, if your job involves long periods in an air-conditioned room.
Results In Nosebleeds:
Dry air can also cause nosebleeds. Though nosebleeds are more common in the colder months when homes and offices are heated, they can even occur in any season when there is low indoor air humidity.(6)
Spending a long time in extremely dry indoor surroundings can deplete the fluid levels of one’s body.
In a study of 2006, researchers have checked the hydration levels of workers who spent much of the day in low humidity environments.(7)
When they analyzed the urine of workers, they found that the urine was more concentrated than workers elsewhere in the plant. The concentration of urine is one biomarker of dehydration.
Results In Higher Stress Levels:
As per research, it has been found that spending prolonged periods in dry indoor air might increase the stress levels.
In a study of 2020, researchers have monitored the heart rates and stress levels of works in 4 different buildings with varying levels of humidity.(8)
They found that workers working in the building with drier air had heart rates that indicated a stress response. The same workers also reported reduced sleep.
Dry Air Causes A Risk Of Infection:
It has been indicated from clinical evidence that dry air might increase the risk of getting the flu, cold, or even pneumonia.(9, 10)
A study from 2016 has revealed a spike in deaths from pneumonia and flu following cold weather snaps.(11) The authors of this study have pointed out that this is because of the indoor heat. Heated, dry air might prolong the life of viruses indoors.
Dry air might also affect one’s ability to fight off viral infections by weakening and reducing your nasal mucus, part of the body’s natural defense against these microbes.
So, by now we are aware that dry air can affect our health in several ways, in order to maintain a healthy environment, it is recommended by EPA to keep your indoor humidity between 30% to 50%. Using a humidifier, limiting hot showers, using moisturizing lotions, balms, and sprays for lubricating your skin, lips, and sinuses are recommended.
If you experience health issues for a longer time due to the dry air, you must consult your doctor and rule out any underlying health condition.