You might be familiar with the pesky side effects of winter, such as dry skin or more frequent bloody noses. These can be caused by the dry air that is more common in winter.
And a host of health problems and risks can come from dry air.
Here are some of the most common:
Cleveland Clinic explains that your body’s fluids get depleted while you breathe. That explains why your whole respiratory system feels like Death Valley and you may also need to drink more in dry air.
❌ Sinus problems
Dry air can lead to your mucus membranes drying out. According to the Mayo Clinic this occurs when the areas inside the nose become swollen. The common cold is the most common cause of it. Norelle Health states that dry sinuses are 50% more likely to attract bacteria that can cause sinusitis.
As your sinuses dry out, the mucus membranes that typically trap anything you inhale, such as viruses, aren’t there to protect you. According to Dr Mayank Shukla, some viruses survive longer in low-humidity environments.
❌ Scaly skin and flyaway hair
This is because any moisture on the surfaces of your body immediately evaporates.
As the nasal membrane loses moisture, you can find more blood in the tissue when you blow your nose or have full nosebleeds. The Cleveland Clinic lists dry air as the most common cause of nosebleeds.
❌ Asthma and bronchitis
While dry air may not cause asthma, it can worsen the symptoms, according to the Wasatch Peak Family Practice. Dry air can irritate airways, making those with asthma more prone to an asthma attack.
That irritation comes from the mucus line drying out and that can cause inflammation, triggering an asthma attack. Irritated airways can develop that inflammation, which is why dry air is also associated with bronchitis. Check out the best humidifiers for asthma.
❌ Winter rash
You may notice dry, scaly or itchy skin in dry air. According to Dr Mayank Shukla Website, dry air can cause what’s often called winter rash or winter itch. Dry air can also worsen symptoms of eczema.
According to the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center, dry air can’t cause snoring but can worsen the condition. Simply, you snore more when your mouth and throat become dry. Worse, sometimes your body can make more mucus to overcompensate for the dry air, leading to more snoring.
❌ Allergy symptoms
Dry air also lets allergens float more freely, as the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center states. Humidity can weigh allergens down, making you less likely to breathe them in.
This leads us nicely to the subject of humidifiers…
Could a humidifier help?
A humidifier can help by adding moisture to the air.
Estimates vary, but Cleveland Clinic states home humidity should be between 30-50%. Too much moisture can cause mold growth, leading to other respiratory irritations.
The good news is most machines have displays right on the front to tell you current air humidity percentages. You can even preset air humidity levels so the machine shuts off when you reach the selected humidity level.
Having a humidifier can also reverse the health effects listed above. Adding moisture into the air means moisture is not evaporating off of your skin, leading to more comfort all the way around.
Your airways will also be less irritated since moisture is not evaporating every time you breathe. That can lead to fewer asthma attacks, bronchitis, dry cough and sinusitis risks.
Your mucus membranes will stay more intact with higher moisture, possibly leading to fewer respiratory infections.
Overall, your body will thank you for putting more moisture back into the air during those harsh winter months or in those more arid climates.
Getting a humidifier may help you prevent many health problems, like nosebleeds, asthma attacks, bronchitis, sinusitis, rashes, allergies, dry cough and respiratory infections.
Most of these problems can be related to dry air, causing natural moisture to evaporate off the body or out of the airways. What’s left is inflammation and irritation.
You want to keep home humidity at 30-50%, which can help you stay more comfortable in dryer air, whether the air is dry from winter, the local climate or both.
- Ashton, D. (2022). 8 Best Humidifiers For Winter. housefresh.com
- Cleveland Clinic. (2019). How Dry Winter Air Can Cause Respiratory Problems. clevelandclinic.org
- Cleveland Clinic. (2023). Nosebleeds (Epistaxis): Causes, Treatment & Prevention. clevelandclinic.org
- Healthwise. (2022). Dry Coughs. uofmhealth.org
- Mayo Clinic. (2023). Acute Sinusitis. Acute sinusitis – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. mayoclinic.org Norelle Health. (2023). Sinus Health & Dry Air. norellehealth.com
- Sheets, M. (2019). Will Having A Humidifier At Home Help Prevent Snoring? sleepomaha.com
- Shukla, M. MD. (2023). Is Dry Air or Humid Air Better for You? drmayankshukla.com
- Wasatch Peak Family Practice. (2023). Why Asthma Can Be Worse In Winter And Steps To Manage Attacks. wasatchpeakfp.com