Can Humidifiers Play a Major Role in the Spread of Coronavirus?

by Rashi Shukla
Can Humidifiers Play a Major Role in the Spread of Coronavirus

As of now, we are well aware of the precautionary measures we need to take to keep Covid at bay.

Featured Image Credits: HFCM CommunicatieCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We wear a mask, keep social distancing, spend more time indoors and avoid going out and meeting people, wash our hands, and disinfect regularly used surfaces. All this is good. And we need to keep following this routine in order to be safe from this deadly virus because the virus is spreading fast now. Hospitals are all packed with infected patients and keeping up with these measures is very important. But as the winter season is here experts are talking about one more thing that we need to discuss which is the humidity. 

The temperature is plunging because of the winters, the air is getting colder so it can hold less water vapor in it. The problem is getting worse due to the manner in which the buildings are being heated. Ventilators, air conditioners, and heaters draw in the outside air, and then eventually these systems heat up the air which annihilates even more moisture out of it. This makes it easy for the virus to jump from one host to another and also dry air destroys the defense system of our body which prevents the virus from starting the infection. All this could cause even more damage from the coronavirus in the next few months.

According to a study, as the humidity gets lower, the particles which are released from the mouth of humans when they talk or cough gets smaller. The water evaporates faster when the air around them is dry. The particles can stay up in the air for a longer duration and can also travel farther when they are small, and they can be inhaled much deeper into the lungs. And any virus which is hiding in these particles also travels along.

If the virus goes inside any person’s respiratory tract that can cause a lot of problems. Naturally, our body has many layers of defense lines to protect against such viruses. A physical fence is supported by the cells that are in the nasal passage which act as our first defense. A slippery substance known as mucus is produced by some of these cells and some cells have cilia that move in synchrony. This motion moves the top layer of the mucus away from the lungs. This current catch any virus that comes over it which is either swallowed or coughed. The mucus layers dehydrate when the air is very dry, it also crushes the cilia and makes them static.

When humidity is high, the respiratory particles build much faster and drop to the ground early. That is why maintaining a 6 feet distance from the infected person weakens the chance of how many bits of this virus you might inhale. In a recent study, researchers found that air with 30 percent humidity can transfer more than double infectious droplets as compared to air with 60 or more percentage humidity. This is why it is expected that masks stop more particles coming from people’s mouths or noses because masks can trap bigger particles better than smaller ones.

All this doesn’t mean that you should start worrying about keeping all the places humidified. But to simplify things you can keep one area, your sleeping space will be better. When you sleep in rooms with relative humidity between 40 percent to 60 percent your mucus and cilia perform their functions properly and you get better sleep. The immune system produces antibodies during our sleep. So it is advised that the better sleep you get, your body will be ready to repel future infections.

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