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Can humidity affect your health?

By Anonymous September 7, 2014 - 9:35am
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Hello Anonymous,

Thank you for this very interesting question. The answer is yes.

Let's begin with indoor levels of humidity.

High humidity causes dust mite populations and mold colonies to grow. Consequently, increased allergens in the air will greatly affect someone who suffers with indoor allergies.

Low humidity is trouble for allergy suffers. Dust mites die off when indoor humidity levels drop below 50%. Dust mite allergen, mold, and bacteria that are dried out are lighter and more easily airborne, leading to greater inhalation rates.

Dry air can irritate nasal passages and other mucous membranes, exacerbating allergy symptoms and leading to complications such as sinusitis. Sore throats and dry skin, or allergic dermatitis, are also possible repercussions of too-low home humidity levels.

Next, let's look at the impact of outdoor humidity on our health.
Remember, the higher the relative humidity, the higher the temperature actually feels.

When outside temperatures approach the temperature of the human body, about 98 degrees, your body undergoes a series of changes to help keep it cool. Sweating, alteration of the rate and depth of blood circulation, and increased respiration are all measures the body takes in an effort to cool itself down.

But, sweating is only effective in cooling us down when the water in perspiration can evaporate. Relative humidity determines the rate at which the water can evaporate from the skin. When the air is more full of moisture, it is harder for the air to absorb the sweat from our skin. The body is eventually forced to do other things to cool us down.

One health consequence is overheating in very humid weather. This can lead to dehydration and chemical imbalances within the body. Heat stroke is a more serious condition that can happen. Body temperature can reach 105 degrees or higher. Symptoms are lethargy, confusion and unconsciousness.

Conversely, the dry air and relative low humidity can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses and throat, and itchy eyes. Prolonged exposure to dry air can dry out and inflame the mucous membrane lining your respiratory tract. When this natural barrier is no longer working properly, it increases your risk of colds, the flu, and other infections.

The bottom line is to be aware of the levels of humidity both indoor and outdoor.


September 8, 2014 - 8:23am
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