By Gina Roberts-Grey
Frigid temperatures trigger the need for furnaces to run—a lot. Although the heat may be warming your bones, it also can dry out your nasal passages, mouth and throat, making it uncomfortable to breathe. Dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked lips are just some of the byproducts of warm, dry air that can make it tough to sleep comfortably.
Adding moisture, or humidity, into the air can combat the drying effects triggered by the heat. A humidifier can help maintain adequate levels of humidity, and there are a number of options available, whether you want warm air or cool air:
- Central humidifiers. These are built into home heating and air conditioning systems and add humidity to the whole house.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers. These produce a cool mist with ultrasonic vibration.
- Evaporative humidifiers. These use a fan to blow either cool or warm air through a wet wick, filter or belt.
- Steam vaporizers. These blow cooled steam into the air.
Ideally, the humidity level in your home should be between 30 percent and 50 percent, to promote comfortable sleep as well as overall health. Humidity can be measured with a device called a hygrometer, which is available in hardware or home improvement stores. Experts suggest maintaining adequate humidity throughout your whole home for optimal comfort.
The Allergy and Asthma Network has these additional tips to keep your nose and sinuses properly hydrated during the winter:
- Drink plenty of water to keep mucus in the nasal passages and sinuses thin and fluid.
- Help warm the air you breathe in cold weather by wearing a scarf over your nose and mouth.
- Keep nasal passages moist with saltwater nasal washes or sprays, especially if you are exposed to dry air, allergens or infection.
- When using nasal sprays, direct the spray toward the outer surface of your nasal passage, away from the center of your nose.
- Limit use of decongestant sprays. They can damage the cilia that clear the nose and sinuses.
- Ask your physician about medications that contribute to nasal problems. Some blood pressure and anti-anxiety medications have a drying effect on nose and throat.