High & Dry

As part of my ongoing whine about my (voluntary) move to a colder climate, here’s another little complaint. When it’s cold, you have to turn the heat on. Makes sense, right? I mean, what else are you gonna do?
Lay under 7 layers of blankets & comforters?
Start dating again?

Just not practical.

But one of the side effects of existing in colder environments and heating is dry air. Air that sucks the moisture from, well, you. And you need that moisture. The human body is, on average, 55%-60% water. That’s organs ( skin, lungs, heart, etc. Your blood is about 83% water. Air that’s too dry can deprive your body of that water and affect your health in several ways. From irritated eyes and sinuses to respiratory and skin conditions, overexposure to dry air can cause a variety of symptoms. It may also raise the risk of some illnesses.

Please Bob, tell us more…

OK, since you asked. Here are just some of the ways that dry air can affect your wellbeing.

  1. Nasal congestion
    Dry air is directly related to nasal congestion because it influences the consistency of mucus in your nasal passages. The drier the air, the drier your mucus becomes, and the less the mucus will be able to flow as usual. Mucus drains through the sinus passages similar to the way tears would flow out of your eyes. Hopefully you’re not having lunch while reading this.
  2. Asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments
    When you’re in a very low humidity environment, the fluid that hydrates your bronchial tubes can quickly evaporate. This can leave your airways vulnerable to irritation. This is especially likely during winter months.
    In addition to asthma, the symptoms of bronchitis, sinusitis, and other respiratory illnesses can also worsen if you spend too much time in an environment with overly dry air.
  3. Sore throat
    In a 2013 study involving 45 volunteers, researchers sent a stream of cold, dry air into the throats of study participants. The lower the temperature and humidity of the air, the more pain and irritation the volunteers reported. I would think that however they sent the cold, dry air into the participants throats wouldn’t have been a party either.
  4. Eye irritation
    If you work in an office environment where the air conditioning keeps the humidity low, dry air may affect the tear film that protects your cornea from damage.Small dry patches may form on your eyes, leaving you more vulnerable to other kinds of eye irritants.So if your job involves long periods in an air-conditioned environment, especially in front of a computer screen, it’s recommended that you take breaks often to help restore moisture to your eyes.
  5. Dry skin and dermatitis
    Dry indoor air, especially air-conditioned environments, can lead to rough, dry skin. It can also worsen eczema symptoms. Air that’s too dry can also decrease your skin’s elasticity as well as weaken your skin’s barrier function. As a result, when you come into contact with allergens or irritants, your skin may be more easily damaged and if you already have a condition like atopic dermatitis, dry air could make the problem worse.
  6. Nosebleeds
    Nosebleeds are a common result of dry air. While nosebleeds are more common
    in winter months when homes and offices are heated, they can occur in any season when indoor air humidity is low. Yup, I live this one.
  7. Higher stress levels
    According to research, spending prolonged periods in very dry indoor air may increase your stress level.In a 2020 study, researchers monitored the heart rates and stress levels of workers in four separate buildings with varying levels of air humidity.The researchers found that those who worked in the buildings with drier air had heart rates that indicated a stress response. The same participants also reported poorer sleep.

Also, you’re more likely to get infections, colds and even the flu. Some studies show that dry air in a room helps the flu last even longer than it would otherwise.

So, what steps to take? Here’s a few simple remedies.
I know. They’re simple.
I didn’t promise you any high tech, space age stuff. I’m a simple man.
Like you didn’t know that…

….but I digress….

Simple fixes,

  1. Open Windows to let fresh air In.
    While it may seem counterintuitive, it is actually helpful to open the windows and remove the stale, dry air from your house. Open windows during the daytime to let the fresh air in. It will help you breathe easy, and your skin won’t feel that dry and itchy.
  2. Use a humidifier.
    Running a humidifier in your home will add moisture to dry, heated air. The moist air will help keep your skin, mouth, and nose lubricated. Your goal is to aim for a comfortable home humidity level of between 30% and 50%. Those of you with high tech HVAC systems can use that info. I just run the humidifier and hope.

Other simple solutions include;
More house plants. They do help increase the humidity in a home.
Cooking / boil water. I’m not kidding, this was a serious suggestion. Again, not rocket science, but it makes sense.
Open the bathroom door when you shower. Share the moisturizing wealth. You may be sharing other things as well, but if someone is in your home, they should just be prepared to see you naked. Or maybe that’s just me.
Moisturize. You should just do this anyway. Find a good basic moisturizing cream and use it. Your skin will thank you.

Ok, that’s the missive for today. Keep some moisture in your life!
Now go enjoy those holiday parties, all that good cheer and getting together with family members who you don’t see outside of the holiday season, which usually is a reminder of why you don’t see them outside of the holiday season.

Talk Later,

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