The Dangers of Low Humidity

Last year I blogged about how dry winters could be in these parts. I even had a doctor in Fairbanks compare the humidity levels in Interior Alaska, particularly in winter, to what astronauts experience in space.

Lately, I’ve been getting headaches, blurry vision and having trouble concentrating. I was concerned it was low levels of carbon monoxide (I’ve had my own CO scare several years back – you can read about the terrible ordeal here).

I did what any person with an Internet connection would do. I Googled. What I found was some pretty clear evidence that the low humidity level is obscenely low and most likely the cause of some pretty significant health issues.

I learned the the optimal relative humidity level for human comfort and health is anywhere from 30% to 50%.

A relative humidity level for an arid desert is 25%.

The humidity level in my home? 2%. Yes – TWO PERCENT.

Here are some of the results of low humidity:

1. Severe static electricity resulting in powerful shocks. CHECK. The static is so bad that I get shocks when I touch my computer, and it often causes my computer to freeze up.

2. Furniture dries out and cracks. CHECK.

3. Severe dry, itchy, red, flaky skin and cracked lips. CHECK.

4. Dry hair, split ends. CHECK.

5. Dry, itchy eyes. CHECK.

6. Sinus irritation, bloody noses, and respiratory problems. CHECK

7. Affects the human body’s ability to get oxygen and can cause headaches, migraines and lethargy. CHECK

8. Affects pets with all of the above.

The cure? A humidifier can do wonders. Even a vaporizer could help relieve some of these irritating symptoms. And the irony is that this house is a rental and came with an enormous humidifier in one of the closets, but we’ve never thought to use it. It’s coming out of the closet  now.

Additional reading: Humidifiers – Mayo Clinic

Have you been affected by extreme climates? What happened and what did you do?

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12 Comments

  1. Since moving to the Yukon two years ago, I have gone through more hand moisturizer than in the thirty-mumble years before I came here ^_^

    No real suggestions here, just commiseration, as I scored a check for 1-7.

    Reply
  2. WakeUpAmerica

     /  December 14, 2011

    I live in the Upper Mojave Desert. We use swamp coolers in the summer and run a humidifier in the winter. Otherwise, my sinuses revolt and create ginormous headaches. We also suffer a lot from fissures on the knuckles and finger tips. Drinking lots of water with electrolytes every day also help a great deal.

    Reply
  3. leenie17

     /  December 14, 2011

    I live in western NY and the humidity is a bit higher, but still pretty dry in the winter. My poor cat never did learn to keep her nose away from my hands and looked like she was on springs from jumping so much!

    I also have lots of problems with cracking fingertips and have found that liquid bandage is a lifesaver. It stings a bit when you put it on, but it seals the crack and holds it together as it heals so there is little or no pain. Absolutely essential for those open cracks around the fingernails!

    Reply
    • Right now, I’m just grateful I don’t have those cracking fingertips. Since most of my work revolves around the computer keyboard, I can’t imagine typing with anything on my fingers. Heal quickly!

      Reply
    • WakeUpAmerica

       /  December 15, 2011

      Yes, my veterinarian also told me I could just use super glue. It works! Stings like a bitch for a few seconds though.

      Reply
  4. Tom Michalski

     /  December 15, 2011

    We have just the opposite problem here in Florida. It’s always way too humid. Here it is the middle of December and it was 82 degrees today … and humid.

    Reply
  5. One winter night I used a humidifier in the bedroom, turned the thermostat down, and burrowed under a heavy comforter. I slept snugly overnight but woke up the next morning to a nasty sore threat from the cold moist air. Fyi.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and/or Season’s Greetings to you and yours!

    Reply
  6. duck

     /  January 1, 2012

    After 30 Alaskan winters I have discovered that keeping well hydrated and watching out for metal posts prevents headaches and blurry vision; and bear grease keeps the skin nice and supple during hibernation. 😉
    happy New Year !

    Reply
  7. Naomi Schiff

     /  January 5, 2012

    Many years a friend came here to the SF bay area and stayed with me while he got his bearings after living in Samoa. Smelled something funny after a few days: his shoes, green and furry with mold inside and out! Humidity can make problems too, when carried to excess.

    Reply
  8. Ambersway

     /  January 29, 2014

    yes humidity is disgusting and moldy and your clothes stick to your sweaty body all the time ugh! this is why i moved to new mexico , (dry) . dry is so much more comfortable….

    Reply
  9. I have migraines almost daily. Had eyes check,MRI brain, neurologist, Ent for sinus. Ct showed bones lost in nose whe I had a deviated septum surgery back in the 1980’s. Ent dr. Said he thinks my migraines are from dryness. Put me on PONARIS drown! ocean saline spray, drink a lot of water and GET A ROOMHUMIDIFIER. Doing everything but I don’t know what the Best humidifier to get. I know what I want.(cool mist, ultrasonic, no noise, no filters. Can anyone HELP ME? Give me some suggestions my bedroom humidity is 16% . TOO LOW. Please help me. Thanks

    Reply

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