How to stay healthy, comfortable inside during winter

Using a humidifier during the winter can save money and improve health

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When the temperature goes down outside, your thermostat usually goes up inside. That warm, dry air can do more harm than good, particularly to your health.

“If it is too much dryness, that’s not good when you have a respiratory infection.” To offset that, your heater should be used hand in hand with a humidifier," UF Health Dr. Mobeen Rathore said.

Doctors like Rathore say being inside where it’s nice and toasty can feel great when it’s freezing out. However, it thins out your mucus membranes, irritating them and making them more susceptible to viruses. We’ve all heard of winter skin -- the drier warm air can lead to dry or cracked skin, dehydration and irritation in your nose and throat.

“With the heat running, the inside of the houses get even drier. So I think that’s a pretty good indication that it’s the winter months," Rathore said. "The heat is running and the inside of the house … and that’s where the humidifier is beneficial in making the individual comfortable.”

By using the humidifier, you add moisture back into your home. This can soothe symptoms, protect your sinuses and lead to a faster road to recovery.

“The main thing is to keep it clean and change the water frequently. Keep the container of the water clean on a regular basis," Rathore said.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests keeping humidity levels between 30-50 percent. It’s best to place the humidifier on a nightstand. You don’t need to blast the humidifier by your face, but the closer to where you sleep, the better.

One more tidbit. Not only can a humidifier be good for your health, it can be good for your wallet too. The added moisture means a room can retain heat more easily, which, in turn, reduces your heating bill. It reduces static electricity, as well, so you can say goodbye to getting zapped by static shock.

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