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Humidifiers and your Health

One of the most prevalent health issues in our society today is dehydration. The human body is composed mostly of water. If it loses the water, the tissue dries up, it loses elasticity, and functionality declines. Besides the most easily recognizable condition of dry skin, the symptoms of dehydration include chronic joint and muscle pain, dry scratchy throat, sore eyes, and difficulty concentrating.

The two easiest ways to combat dehydration, and both are necessary: drink a lot of water, and maintain the humidity in the home at recommended levels. With our society's common concern for health, dealing with dehydration is a great step in the right direction.

Having control over the amount of moisture in the air is required for your family's health. Dry air can cause your throat to feel dry, and as well as creating or aggravate respiratory ailments. During very cold winter weather, your home will lose humidity to the outside air, and indoor air may drop to as low as 5% relative humidity. Cold air inside a home heated to room temperature of 73 degrees can wind up with a relative humidity as low as 6%. To give you an idea of how dry this is, typical humidity in the Sahara Desert is about 25%. It is recommended to avoid having a home humidity any lower than 30%. Optimal comfort is usually achieved at about 40-55% relative humidity.

A lack of humidification during cold winter weather is one of the main reasons for respiratory infections. The first colds of the year usually occur about the same time as your furnace turns on for the first time. Winter is often blamed for these illnesses, but the actual cause is usually dryness, which effects the membranes of the nose, throat and bronchial tubes. Indoor humidity also has a drastic effect on controlling the occurrence of airborne infections, mold, and bacteria.

In order to alleviate some of the discomfort of colds, dry noses and skin is to humidify at home, where most of our life is spent, and we have control over our air. For many people, dry air is a major air-quality issue. Dry air increases the growth rate of some bacteria, viruses and respiratory irritants. Also, adequate moisture in the air and body, enables the body's immune system to better defend itself against respiratory pollutants and irritants.

Health authorities recommend that the relative humidity in your home should be kept between 30% and 55% during the winter months. Lower levels aggravate skin allergies and respiratory infections, and higher levels increase the spread of mold, bacteria and viruses. Dust mites can spread when the humidity is above 50%. Experts at the Association of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers in Atlanta say medical studies indicate that maintaining your home's humidity in this optimum zone inhibits the survival of many viruses, including influenza, measles, polio, and herpes.