3 Reasons to Use a Humidifier During the Winter Flu Season

Influenza, or flu, starts to spread in the Anaheim, CA, area in November. It continues its spread until March, then it dissipates until mid-to late-autumn. Influenza viruses mutate rapidly, which is why you need a flu shot every year and why getting sick with the flu once doesn’t prevent you from getting it again. In addition to getting a flu shot, there are some other ways you can lower your risk of getting the flu this winter. Using a humidifier is one easy solution to lower your risk. Here are three ways using a humidifier during the winter months of the year could lower your risk of catching the flu or another virus.

1. Keep Nasal Passages Moisturized

Dry winter air robs your nasal passages of essential moisture. Those membranes need to be moist in order to trap particles from the air. The nasal passages generate mucus, which traps viruses, bacteria, allergens, dust and other particles that contribute to illness. Without enough moisture in the air, the mucus dries, as do the cells that line the nasal passages. The cilia that move back and forth in your nostrils also need plenty of moisture. The moisture in the air allows them to trap particles and keep them stuck in the mucus. If the cilia dry out, they’re less flexible and unable to trap flu viruses and other germs in the mucus of your nose.

Dry nasal passages can also become irritated. Without the mucus, bacteria and viruses will easily make their way through your nasal passages and into your throat or lungs where they can cause an upper respiratory infection. Using a humidifier also helps your mouth, throat and eyes stay well-moisturized. If your eyes become dry, you’re likely to rub them. Rubbing your eyes allows bacteria and viruses from your fingers to enter your body. Maintaining adequate moisture in your mouth and throat reduces coughing.

Dry air is also a problem for people with asthma. The cold, dry air of winter may trigger an asthma attack or make your wheezing worse. Adding moisture to the air reduces your risk of breathing passage irritation. The moisture gets all the way into your lungs, making it easier for you to take a deep breath.

2. Reduce Cracking and Irritation of Skin and Mucous Membranes

Humidifiers keep your skin properly moisturized. During the winter, your skin loses moisture faster than it does during the warmer, humid months of the summertime. Dry skin can crack, which gives viruses like those that cause the flu, colds and COVID-19 a chance to enter your body. Dry skin can also be itchy and painful. Your skin may be more sensitive, too. Using a humidifier prevents extreme drying and cracking of your skin.

Irritation of your mucus membranes and skin is also a problem. The irritation is caused by a combination of dryness, swelling and inflammation caused by exposure to cool, dry air. When these areas are irritated, you’re more likely to touch, rub or scratch them. Touching your eyes, mouth or nose is an easy way to infect yourself with flu, cold or COVID-19 germs.

3. Maintain an Ideal Indoor Humidity Level

Influenza viruses as well as other bacteria and viruses spread more readily in dry air. Using a humidifier keeps your home in the ideal indoor humidity range of 40% to 50%. When a person coughs or sneezes, they make a cloud of respiratory droplets. When the air in your home is very dry, those droplets will spread far and wide. They will linger in the air, potentially infecting the next person to walk through that area. The smallest droplets laden with flu viruses and other germs can also be pushed through your home’s air each time your heating system cycles. Increasing your home’s humidity and maintaining it between 40% and 50% helps the respiratory droplets settle out of the air more quickly and reduces their ability to spread through your home.

At Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., we’re the go-to source for humidifiers in Anaheim. Our heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair, replacement and installation services keep Anaheim area homeowners comfortable all year long. We’re ready to provide you with reliable thermostats, attic insulation, indoor air quality solutions, and zoning systems. We offer home comfort agreements and energy-efficient upgrades to save you money and keep you comfortable. To learn more about how humidifiers could help you stay healthy during flu season, call us at Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. today.