How can humidifiers help me deal with Canada’s dry winters?

Dry air during Canadian winters can cause minor health issues, but humidifiers can help newcomers adapt to the new climate.

How does dry air affect health? 

Humidity refers to how much water vapor is in the air. It’s invisible, so it’s hard to tell when the air is too dry. However, if you have certain symptoms, it may indicate that the lack of humidity is affecting your health.

Dry air can cause:

  • Irritated eyes
  • Nose bleeds
  • Dry throat
  • Dry cough
  • Dry skin
  • Cracked lips
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Sinus congestion or headaches

Dry air is especially common during winter months or when an air conditioner is being used in the summer. 

How can humidifiers improve health?

Humidifiers are designed to add moisture to the air by emitting water vapour or steam. Increasing humidity can reduce the irritation caused by air, like dry skin, coughs, sinus congestions, etc. 

Other health benefits of using humidifiers include:

  • Reducing the risk of catching the flu 
  • Making dry coughs more “productive” which releases trapped or sticky phlegm 
  • Reducing snoring
  • Keeping the skin and hair moist
  • Supporting moisture-loving houseplants

Aside from the health benefits, increasing humidity also makes wood floors and furniture last longer, and feels warmer than dry air so can help reduce utility bills during the winter. 

Are there any risks in using humidifiers?

Adding moisture into the air can improve your health, but it’s important to be mindful of risks and use humidifiers properly.

Too much humidity can make it difficult to breathe and worsen allergies. If your humidifier doesn’t have a humidity meter, or hygrometer, built in, then it may be worth investing in one. Ideal humidity levels should be between 30-50%. 

Dirty humidifiers means the air you’re breathing in will be contaminated too. The tank should be cleaned regularly, and if there’s a filter, it should be replaced frequently as well. Make sure to read and follow the instructions on how to care for the humidifier you get. 

Use purified or distilled water in your humidifier because tap water contains particles that can wear down the device. Those particles can also be inhaled or settle around the room as dust.

Allergies and asthma may worsen if you’re allergic to dust and mold. Both thrive in humid environments, so speak to your doctor before using a humidifier.