3 Common Effects of Dry Air and How to Fix Them

Low humidity in the winter can leave your house feeling chilly and uncomfortable, but dry air may have some more serious health effects as well. Rather than being a simple annoyance, low humidity could make you more likely to get sick and worsen your symptoms if you do.

1. Stuffy Nose 
Dry air can commonly cause nasal congestion, according to Health magazine. The body naturally humidifies air before it enters the lungs, but in cold conditions, it ramps up mucus production to help the process. When the air is too dry, this extra mucus can thicken and build up in the sinuses. According to the source, dry air also sucks moisture out of your system with each breath you take, making the problem even worse. To combat these effects, drink plenty of water and consider using a humidifier at night so you're not losing hydration as you sleep.

2. Cracked Skin
Just as air with low humidity can pull moisture from your nose and throat, it can also lead to dry skin, Mercola.com reported. Dry air speeds evaporation, meaning that the moisture in your skin needs to be replenished more often. If you get too dry, your skin can start to itch. When it gets dry enough, you can also suffer from chapped lips and cracked skin. Not only is this uncomfortable, but Mercola.com said that it's possible for outside irritants to enter through these skin cracks, making you more likely to get sick.

3. Viral Paradise 
Dry air may not be comfortable for people, but it provides the perfect habitat for viruses. The New York Times reported that dry air may be the reason for the flu season existing at all, since it's easier for the virus to survive in dry conditions. In humid conditions, airborne virus particles can be dragged down to the ground by other droplets of moisture, but in dry air they're free to float until someone picks them up. At extremely high humidity, such as is found in the tropics, the virus can barely spread at all.

A Simple Solution 
Fortunately, the solutions to all of these problems are simple. Adding more humidity to the air can help keep you hydrated and the flu virus grounded. A humidifier can get moisture back into the air and into your body. The Mayo Clinic recommended maintaining a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent to give you the best protection from winter woes.