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Can Dry Indoor Air Make You Sick?

What happens if the air in your home is too dry? Is there a connection between dry indoor air and health? Here's how to increase indoor moisture levels.
Last Updated on February 17, 2022

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dry indoor air

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The official winter season is almost here, and many homeowners are concerned about wintertime indoor air quality. The cold weather can cause a number of comfort and health issues, putting a damper on holiday fun. Let’s take a closer look at dry air, one of the biggest annoyances and potential health threats during the winter season. 

What Is Dry Air? 

There are two definitions of dry air. The first is air with no water vapor. The second is air with low relative humidity or an underwhelming amount of water vapor. For the purpose of this article, we will use the latter definition. Dry air is simply air that is significantly lacking moisture.

Equally important, air with low relative humidity falls below the ideal 40 to 60% indoor humidity range. Generally speaking, when humidity levels are below this range, the air feels noticeably dry. 

What Causes Dry Indoor Air?

Dry indoor air is a direct result of cold weather. Cold air does not hold the same amount of moisture as warm air. At the same time, our bodies do not hold onto moisture as well in cooler temperatures. As a result, we turn on the heater in our homes causing the indoor air to become even drier. 

How Dry Air Affects Health

Can dry indoor air make you sick or affect breathing? Yes! Dry indoor air wreaks havoc on the human body, leading to a range of mild to severe symptoms. Symptoms as a result of exposure to dry air include:

  • Ear, nose, throat and eye irritation
  • Stress
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dry skin
  • Dermatitis 
  • Dehydration 
  • Bronchitis 
  • Asthma 
  • Sinusitis 
  • Illness (e.g., cold and flu)

Let’s take a look at the science behind these symptoms. Dry air depletes our mucous membranes of the moisture necessary to prevent irritation and illness. This explains the increase in cold, flu and pneumonia deaths and cases during the wintertime. This also accounts for worsening nosebleeds, asthma, bronchitis and sinusitis. These are all irritations and illnesses that are usually prevented by mucus which traps harmful particles. 

can dry indoor air make you sick?
Nosebleeds and dry skin aren’t the only signs you’re experiencing dry indoor air. Make sure to watch out for the other common symptoms listed above!

Furthermore, our skin, the human body’s largest organ, contains 64% water. This explains the propensity for dermatitis and dehydration when surrounded by dry indoor air. Finally, dry air increases stress levels. When we are stressed our immune system is weakened, our sleep is disrupted and we are generally a bit more miserable. Which is also a recipe for illness. 

How To Fix Dry Indoor Air in Your Home 

The single most important solution to dry indoor air is humidification. When searching for a humidifier, don’t bother with portable humidifiers as they can only humidify one area at a time. Instead, we suggest investing in a whole-home humidifier. It will address the entirety of the issue leaving your family feeling warm, hydrated and comfortable. The best part? A whole-home humidifier solution is directly installed into your home’s HVAC system. It will automatically detect when indoor humidity levels are unsatisfactory and adjust accordingly. 

There are two types of humidification technologies, steam and evaporative. Both technologies are effective, but they differ in their moisture-producing methods. 

Whole-Home Humidifiers: Looking to invest in whole-home humidification technology? Take a look at the difference between steam and evaporative humidifiers to find the best technology for your home! Learn more 

Beware of Dry Air Indoors

Whether you live in California or Michigan, dry air is uncomfortable. Remember, no matter how high the temperature is indoors, it will only provide the illusion of warmth. In reality, it will create a harsher, drier atmosphere. Don’t risk the health of your family this winter season. Be proactive and invest in whole-home humidification. 

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Indoor air quality matters. Indoor air quality control solutions work. We are the homeowner’s advocate. Our goal is to help you create a healthier indoor space through education, awareness and action. We support clean air for all and we know it’s possible for every single indoor space.

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Finding a qualified and reputable Indoor Air Professional is not an easy task. Let us make it easier for you by compiling a list of local professionals who are available to do the work at your convenience. Get started today with a FREE home inspection & consultation.

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