It might surprise you to learn that staving off a cold or the flu is easier than you think. At least, that’s how I felt when I read a recent study on how just upping the humidity in your home can greatly reduce the spread of viruses like the flu, colds, and bacterial infections.
Who knew that dry air was one of the main culprits in spreading germs?
How Humidity Levels Affect the Spread of Viruses and Bacteria
According to the study, which you can read here, a question arose as to why so many patients at a major teaching hospital came down with infections or the flu virus despite stringent efforts to prevent the spread of germs.
370 patients in one unit of the hospital were studied with over 8 million data points controlling for every variable researchers could think of to explain the likelihood of patient infection.
These included variables like patient frailty, cleaning procedures, the number of visitors, and hand hygiene., among many others.
While these factors did have an influence on infection rates, what astounded researchers was one particular variable associated with higher infection rates – dry air!
How Does Dry Air Help the Spread of Bacteria?
When humidity levels drop and the air in our environment dries out, skin flakes and droplets carrying viruses and bacteria float easily in the air, even over long distances. These dormant microbes that cause infections, a cold, or the flu virus are able to survive dry conditions and easily spread from person to person.
This is also due to the fact that dry air impairs the body’s ability to fight off these microbes. It is much easier to catch a cold when our sinuses, skin, and other mucous membranes are dehydrated.
Once the dried-up microbes land on or are breathed in by a person, the microbes simply rehydrate and begin to replicate, often causing a cold, the flu, or an infection.
Humidity to the Rescue!
Subsequent research has found that keeping the air in your home, in the classroom, at the office, or at the hospital at a minimum of 40% humidity can greatly reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.
One study found that when half the classrooms in a preschool were humidified while the other half was not during a three-month period in the winter, the rooms that were humidified had two-thirds less absenteeism due to colds and flu.
That’s pretty significant!
Just by keeping the air in your home at 40% humidity can help prevent colds and the flu!
I’ll be sure to implement this during the winter to see how things pan out since I almost always get bronchitis during the winter months.
Which Humidifiers do I Recommend?
Currently, my absolute favorite humidifier is the 6L warm and cool mist humidifier by Levoit.
It’s a beast, but it allows for 36 hours of continuous use when used on the lowest level, is super quiet during operation, and monitors the humidity in the room – meaning it will turn on and off as needed depending on the humidity level you choose!
I love it because I don’t need to fill it as often.
My other favorite humidifier is the 1-gallon cool mist humidifier by Crane. It comes in 8 different colors (which is fun for kids’ rooms) and is really easy to fill up really quick and use as needed. It doesn’t have any fancy humidity level monitors, but it’s small, it’s cute, and it gets the job done.
If you have trouble with scaling or mold, I recommend picking up the following items:
These both last a long time and will greatly reduce upkeep and cleaning time. I highly recommend them!
Have you used a humidifier in your home to boost wellness? Please share in the comments below!
You may also enjoy reading:
This post contains affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read my full disclosure and disclaimer.