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  • Dr. Michelle Jackson, ND

The Humidifier: 3 Reasons to Have One In Your Home This Winter


I’m a big fan of winter. I love the fresh, cold temperatures and all of the outdoor activities that come with snow. The only downside to this beautiful season is the dryness. My mouth feels like a desert when I wake up, my lips are permanently chapped and my skin is constantly cracking. I’ve also noticed that my eczema flares up way more frequently during the winter compared to the summer, despite all of the measures that I take to manage it.

Winter air simply doesn’t contain the amount of water molecules relative to the summer, which explains the ‘dryness symptoms’ I’ve outlined above. Winter air is estimated to contain a relative humidity (RH) in the low teens, and it’s recommended we keep the RH in our homes between 30-50%. How do we overcome this difference? One solution is the humidifier.


3 Reasons To Consider a Humidifier During The Winter:

1. Cold & Flu Prevention- our nasal passages are one of the first lines of defence against airborne pathogens. Moist mucosa is required to trap invaders, so dryness actually increases our susceptibility to infection. This study found that maintaining RH at a level 40% will decrease the airborne infectivity of the Influenza virus.

2. Improved sleep - Do you wake yourself up from snoring or are you victim to a snoring partner? Dry air causes dryness of the airways, which leads to congestion, which in turn leads to restricted airflow that can contribute to snoring. Humidifiers can also improve sleep by enhancing our overall comfort level and prevent waking up from discomfort like nose bleeds or dry mouth.

3. Manage skin conditions - If you’re lucky enough like me to have eczema (sarcasm) or suffer from psoriasis, maintaining skin hydration through indoor RH may help reduce flare-ups. Eczema in particular is associated with reduced skin barrier function, increased transepidermal water loss, decreased skin elasticity and increased roughness. I’ve been using a humidifier for about a week now, and already I feel that my skin is cracking less.

Considerations:

  1. RH balance - If there’s too much moisture in the air, it could promote harmful mold growth, support dust mite infestation, and potentially damage home structures. Look for condensation on windows (a sign that the RH is too high) or you could simply purchase a hygrometer from Canadian Tire, Walmart, online, etc. which costs about $22. Keep RH levels in the 30-50% range.

  2. Humidifier models - Overwhelmed by all the different models out there? I was too. Check out the Consumer’s Report Buying Guide to simplify your decision.

  3. Cleaning - This is essential. Read the user manual to determine how, and how often, you need to clean your unit. The last thing you want is moldy water vapour causing health problems and potential illness.

  4. Home sealing - Ensure windows and doors are properly sealed, because otherwise, it’ll be a constant battle trying to overcome the dry, winter air that is seeping through the cracks.

  5. Essential oils - Adding a few drops to your humidifier can provide an added benefit of relaxation, stress reduction, immune support, etc. depending on the oils used. Be sure that this complies with your humidifier model.

  6. Vacuum regularly - Water can bind to dust in the air, causing it fall. This makes it easier to remove so be sure to add regular vacuuming to your chore list!

References:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/humidifiers/buying-guide.htm

http://www.safeair.ca/info-humidity-inside-home

http://www.lfpress.com/homes/2012/07/25/20027656.html

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0057485

http://everydayroots.com/snoring-remedies

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jdv.13707/full


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Disclaimer: Any information on this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice.

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