Understanding Humidity and Its Impact on Respiratory Health
Greetings, dear readers! Today, we at Solenco are diving into a topic that touches our everyday lives in South Africa but often goes unnoticed - humidity. Humidity, or the amount of water vapour present in the air, is a crucial factor affecting our comfort and health. Particularly, we are going to discuss how high humidity can impact individuals with a cold, the flu, or allergies.
Humidity is typically expressed as a percentage, which signifies the amount of moisture the air could hold at a given temperature. When humidity is above 60%, we say that it's "high", and this can create an environment conducive to the growth of various microbes and allergens.
The Unseen Consequences of High Humidity
A Haven for Allergens: High humidity promotes the growth of allergens like moulds and dust mites. For allergy sufferers, these allergens can trigger symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Moreover, they can provoke asthma attacks in people with this condition, leading to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
A Breeding Ground for Infections: The moisture in humid air can help some types of bacteria and viruses survive and proliferate. This can elevate the risk of respiratory infections, especially among those with compromised immune systems.
Breathing Becomes a Task: Humid air is denser than dry air, making it feel heavy and harder to breathe. This effect is particularly noticeable for those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or asthma.
Cold and Flu Symptoms Amplified: For those battling a cold or flu, high humidity can worsen symptoms. The reason is that the increased mucus production associated with these conditions can be further escalated by humid conditions, causing a feeling of congestion or difficulty breathing.
The Role of Balanced Humidity
While we've highlighted the issues related to high humidity, it's important to note that very low humidity can also be problematic. Dry air can desiccate the mucous membranes in our respiratory tract, making them more susceptible to infection. It can also lead to dry skin, eye irritation, and exacerbate symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions. For this reason, maintaining an indoor humidity level between 30% to 50% is generally advised for optimal comfort and health.
Everyone's body responds differently to humidity. Some people may experience more severe symptoms or discomfort at different humidity levels than others. If you're dealing with respiratory symptoms or discomfort and suspect it might be related to humidity, using a dehumidifier to control the humidity levels in your home could be a beneficial first step. Dehumidifiers help maintain an optimal humidity level, making your living space more comfortable and potentially reducing allergy symptoms. However, if symptoms persist, it's always advisable to consult a healthcare provider to discuss potential solutions or treatments.
At Solenco, we are committed to helping you create a healthier and more comfortable environment in your homes and workplaces. Stay tuned to our blog for more insights into how you can achieve this. Stay safe, South Africa!