Why do people get sick in the winter?
When you think of the word “home,” chances are you are picturing a comfortable, healthy place filled with family and memories. While you strive to infuse your house with love and joy, your residence could also be filled with hidden hazards that have the potential to make you and your loved ones sick.
Is Your House Making You Sick?
Many homes, especially older ones, contain invisible threats you should be aware of. Here are a few places these dangers could be residing and tips on how to eliminate them.
Cooling and heating systems
According to the Huffington Post, HVAC systems are often major sources of indoor pollution. While central air conditioning can turn your home into an oasis during the summer months, it can become extremely problematic once it is turned off. The leftover water can remain in your home’s air ducts and transform them into breeding grounds for bacteria and mold. These growths can have serious physical consequences for you and your family, including severe allergies, unexplained headaches and coughing. Mold and bacteria can also cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms.
To reduce the chances of getting sick from your residence’s HVAC systems, have your air ducts cleaned out by professional services every couple of years, suggests the source. If the damage is deep-set, however, this may not be enough to truly eliminate the pollution.
Water damage from caulk and cracked tiles need to be addressed immediately, or it can quickly spread throughout the walls of your home, causing mold issues that may be very expensive to fix. Even if your family does not have any physical symptoms now, you should tend to bathroom damage right when you notice it to prevent them from getting sick in the future.
Caulk and cracked tiles
Because bathrooms are subject to constant moisture, they are often the source of illness-causing household pollution. This Old House notes that your bathroom needs to be secured with high-quality tiles and caulk in order to prevent water from being absorbed into the walls and therefore affecting the rest of your house. The source recommends examining your shower. If the caulk is shrunken, puckered, or damaged, chances are it is not effectively keeping water out. If you or your family members are experiencing mild to severe allergic reactions, including rashes, congestion and coughing, this lack of bathroom insulation could be the cause.
“Dust mites could be hiding in your favorite furniture.”
Furniture and bedding
Unfortunately, that soft old armchair or broken-in mattress might be the cause behind your incessant stuffy nose. The Huffington Post explains that dust mites, or tiny little bugs that feed off body heat, are just as attracted to your furniture as you are. The humidity your body provides keep them alive, so your go-to comfy spots become their favorite hideouts as well. The source notes that every home has mites, as they exist where humans live. Many people are severely allergic to these bugs, however, and might not realize these invisible creatures are to blame for their constant sneezing and itchy eyes.
The source notes that being vigilant about your cleaning schedule can eliminate the allergy symptoms that accompany dust mites for many people. Towels, sheets and blankets should be washed in hot water at least once a week, and dried well to prevent mold from forming. Vacuum your bare floor, as well as rugs and carpets. If you or your family members continue to feel allergy symptoms, consider investing in dust mite-proof pillowcases and mattress covers.
How to Stop the Flu from Spreading
While it is a myth that cold air can make you sick, it is undeniable that staying healthy during the winter can be challenging. Healthline notes that while only germs can cause you to catch an illness, there are many factors associated with low temperatures that can make you more susceptible to disease.
Indoor humidity levels and ventilation
Proper ventilation is a crucial part of stopping the spread of disease. A study was done at the School of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tianjin University in Tianjin, China, revealed that students living in dorm rooms with poor ventilation systems were more likely to catch colds than those living in spaces with good air circulation.
According to Healthline, indoor air that is too dry can also promote the survival of germs. Ideal air humidity levels fall somewhere between 40 and 60 percent, but during the winter they can drop to as low as 10 percent, which is as dry as the Sahara Desert, notes the source. Using room humidifiers to improve air quality can create a healthier environment since bacteria will be less likely to prosper. The source also noted that sometimes, central home heating systems can cause dry air, so using space heaters to warm your home is often a better option.
Air purifiers are also helpful tools for stopping the flu from spreading. CNN suggests placing these machines in the rooms you spend the most time in, such as your living room, kitchen, and bedroom. They work to effectively remove harmful microbes from the atmosphere, essentially disinfecting the air you breathe. Make sure your purifier contains a HEPA filter for the most thorough air cleaning.
Cold air promotes respiratory issues
If you are asthmatic or simply prone to respiratory issues, breathing cold air can cause you to experience unpleasant and often painful symptoms. Healthline notes that this, in addition to irritants commonly associated with the winter, like burning leaves or fireplace ash, is often the reason behind cold-weather coughs and chest pains. The source suggests avoiding these aggravations and wearing scarves or neck coverings when venturing outdoors.
Spending time inside
In the winter, your main focus should be staying warm. Chances are the windows and doors of your school, office, or home are all shut and you are constantly in close quarters with other people. If one person is sick, it is more likely that everyone in the room will contract the germs as well.
Wash your hands
You will want to wash thoroughly with warm water and soap more often than usual when the flu is going around. According to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, this simple step is extremely effective when it comes to stopping the virus in its tracks. Since influenza is spread by person-to-person-contact, it is especially important to wash your hands after touching a sick individual or things that could have come in contact with germs, such as seats and handholds on public transportation or money. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recommends keeping alcohol-based hand sanitizer at the ready.
Maintain healthy habits
Having a healthy routine is vital for keeping your immune system strong. Make sure you are eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep. The HHS also recommends drinking plenty of fluids so that you do not become dehydrated, which can weaken your immune system.
Comfortable Living News … brought to you by Lasko Products, LLC, leaders in innovative, quality, high-performance home comfort products at a great value.