Many of us live in a region of the world which experiences low humidity throughout certain times of the year. This is particularly true in the winter months, and obviously this is going to be even more true in places where winter is worse and gets progressively worse. Because cold air basically saps humidity out of the atmosphere. When low humidity reaches low enough humidity levels that’s when it can lead to serious complications for your health, and that’s what we’ll examine now.
The Beginning of Low Humidity
So a very oversimplified and rough overview of how low humidity happens during the winter can be summed up as this:
- Cold air already has low humidity.
- However, heaters drawing in cold air from the outside can actually decrease humidity even more.
And that’s as elementary of an explanation as you can boil it down to. Which sets us up pretty well actually for the next part. Where we begin to go into detail on what this low humidity does to the body.
How Does Low Humidity Affect You?
Well, the first thing that dry air does to you is that it can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses, and itchy throat and/or eyes. All of which are quite annoying to deal with. Although, technically none of those are exactly life-threatening per se, Yet, why would you want to deal with them if there was a remedy for it all right?
Now as if that wasn’t bad enough already over time exposure to dry air can also really dry out and inflame the mucous membrane in your respiratory tract. And this can lead to more dire consequences since this lining is what protects your respiratory from many foreign particles. If it becomes dried out and thin enough then we are looking at things like increased risk of colds, increased risk of catching the flu, and increased risk of various other respiratory related infections. So this is no joke here.
How Does This Affect You Even More?
The simple answer to that question would be irritating and drying your eyes and skin, and the simple answer to how it does this to your eyes would be that low humidity air can increase the evaporation rate of your tears. The same tears that are necessary if you want to maintain a healthy, well-hydrated, and properly moisturized eye surface.
There is also a similar effect to the skin when chronically dry air is exposed to it. The lesser amount of moisture and humidity in the air will oftentimes lead to dry, scaly, and itchy skin during the winter months. This is because when you combine said dry air with colder temperatures outside it acts as a ‘double-whammy’ of sorts. The proper term for this condition is “winter itch”…a most annoying condition.
It Gets Worse
Now before we get into the actual explanations for the next part we have to mention that what happens after these relatively ‘minor’ symptoms is not very likely in all honesty. Most people will never experience any of the following problems on a regular basis. So please keep that in mind when reading this and don’t panic! You’re probably going to be fine; we just want to make sure that for those few times and those few people that do end up going through this that you will be prepared for it.
What we are referring to as the more ‘harmful’ conditions of dry skin are actually infectious diseases and agents getting into your skin, technically, it’s not a ‘skin’ condition in the strictest view…it’s actually more of a hygiene issue than anything else. But the way that this can happen is, indeed, still the result of something directly-related to the skin.
And that, of course, is the fact that when skin gets dry enough that small cracks on the surface of it may form. Cracks that may be deep enough, wide enough, or just simply big enough for infectious agents and foreign particles to get into them and possibly even into your bloodstream. And should a dangerous pathogen exploit this temporary opening it can lead to disaster. Even if we are not talking about biological agents or micro-organisms we still have to worry about things like exposure to formaldehyde, acid formation from sulfur and nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, and even ozone formation. So don’t think that you’re out of the woods just yet if you don’t get the flu or something like that.
How to Gauge Dry Air
So other than buying special equipment to detect the abundance (or lack thereof) of moisture in the air there are only a few ways to be able to use your intuition to detect it. Obviously, if you feel or notice any of the symptoms of dry air adversely affecting your body then that should be a clear sign that there actually IS excessively dry air around. But if you notice that there are drying houseplants, peeled wallpaper, and an increased presence/elevated rate of static electricity discharges (such as the old ‘shock/jolt’ you get when touching another person or piece of fabric).
Read : Best Whole House Humidifier
Ways to Fight Back with Low Humidity
Fortunately, not all is ‘doom-and-gloom’. There are preventive measures you can take to inhibit the effects of dry air and possibly avoid it altogether. If nothing else, these methods and ideas can certainly work to lessen the effect of dry air and make things a little more comfortable and bearable than they otherwise would’ve been. So let’s give them a try:
- Inhaling steam from a hot cup of herbal tea.
- Taking steam baths.
- Boiling water which will add moisture to the air.
- And simply using a humidifier.
Please note that none of these are a complete and/or permanent fix to your problems with dry air. In fact, they may very well be completely ineffective depending on the exact conditions in your location and depending on your personal body reacts to things. Which means that you should not rely 100% on the above tactics to always work and be foolproof, but hopefully they are enough…