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Hygrometers (humidity calculators) are often integrated with thermostats present in your home. Did you know though that the humidity level in your house, and your office, is directly related to the faster spreading of viruses and mold? Depending on how dry, or humid, your indoor air is, you might be staying in an environment that promotes the spread of viruses or mold which could be making you sick. To have a better understanding of why this occurs, let us first take a look at the differences between low and high humidity.

What is considered low humidity?

Well, that depends on who you ask. However, experts seem to agree that humidity levels on hygrometers should not go lower than 30%1 or 40%2. Anything below that starts having repercussions on your health and well-being.

Dry air increases the rate at which viruses spread.

You do not believe us? Take a look at this study which shows the correlation between low humidity and the flu virus3. Dry air does not just promote the spread of the flu. It also increases the spread of COVID-19 as shown in this article by University Hospitals4. There are also other health problems that can emerge from your body because of this as seen below.

Low Humidity Symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Eye irritation
  • Dry skin
  • Nosebleeds (nasal passages dryness)
  • Dehydration5

These are just a few of the symptoms that can take place when you spend too much time in a dry place. So, be sure to keep an eye out on your hygrometer if you have any of these symptoms – always consult a health professional if symptoms worsen or drag on over long periods of time. Now, let us take a look at what to do if your indoor air is dry.

How to increase humidity in a room

The easiest way to increase indoor humidity is by getting a humidifier or a vaporizer6. These devices will help you maintain it at higher levels which will in turn keep you safer from viruses and remove some of the symptoms that you might have which are associated with dry air.

You could also be more creative and use cheaper methods such as: heating up a pot to boil water, running a hot shower to make a large amount of water vapor, adding plants in your home or air drying your clothes on a drying rack.

Having said that, let us move on to high humidity.

High humidity causing condensation on a leaf. Humidity can be tracked with the help of hygrometers.

What is considered high humidity?

Again, it depends on who you ask. The general consensus though suggests that anything above 50% or 60% on hygrometers starts getting high. Just like low humidity, this comes with risks.

Excessive humidity in your house can create mold.

You might have heard this before, but it is true! When humidity reaches levels of around 60% or more, the risk of mold growth drastically increases7. This is due to the increase in condensation and excessive moisture that is found at those levels. If your indoor air is too humid, you might be dealing with some of the health problems described below.

Symptoms of high humidity:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dehydration
  • Fainting8

As mentioned previously, always consult a health professional if you have long lasting or worsening symptoms. With that said, let us take a look at what you can do about humid air.

How to lower humidity in your house

The easiest way to lower humidity would be to get a dehumidifier or an air conditioner (preferably both). If you do not have access to air conditioning or dehumidifiers, of if you want to save energy, try the following: use fans, take shorter, colder showers, dry your laundry outside or put your house plants outside if you have any.

Now that you know what humidity levels are considered to be too low and too high, it is time to check out what the ideal levels are.

Ideal indoor humidity in your house with the help of hygrometers

When humidity is too high or too low, the air becomes an ideal environment for viruses or mold to spread as we have already mentioned. So, the best way to protect yourself from dry or humid air is to have an ideal indoor humidity between 30 and 60%. As we have said, below 30% is too low and above 60% is too high. Therefore, aim to be in the middle!

By keeping indoor humidity at the right levels, you will have a healthy indoor air quality, at least in this regard. This is a good step though towards making your home, or office, a safer place for you and for your surroundings.

Hygrometers are lifesavers

Now you know why it is crucial to have a hygrometer in your home. If you want to avoid increased risk of catching the flu or of having to deal with mold, you are going to have to monitor your indoor humidity levels, without taking into account all of the symptoms associated with dry or humid air. So, be sure to keep an eye out for humidity as it can and will affect your health.

Also, if you have a humidity problem, do not forget to talk to your doctor about it when you see them as they might forget that it plays an important role in your health and well-being.

Beyond hygrometers

Hygrometers are a great way to monitor indoor air quality. There are, however, many other factors which contribute to low indoor air quality as explained in the resources that we have for you on My Breezzz.

References

1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/humidifiers/art-20048021
2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/op-ed-humidity-can-aid-in-the-fight-against-covid-19/
3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190513155635.htm
4. https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2020/12/the-role-of-dry-winter-air-in-spreading-covid-19
5. https://www.healthline.com/health/dry-air
6. https://www.healthline.com/health/humidifier-vs-vaporizer
7. https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home
8. https://share.upmc.com/2014/06/effects-humidity-body/

You can read these articles too: 

Flu, Cold Viruses Live on Surfaces for a While – Bacteria Too

What Is Pollen – Allergy Symptoms and Indoor Air Quality

Hygrometers Can Protect You Against Viruses and Mold