What Dry Weather Means for Your Health
By Chris Brown
Native peoples like the Hopi, Navaho, Apache, and Comanche thrived for hundreds of years in the arid climates of the American Southwest. Now, many flock to these warmer, drier climates for the perceived health benefits of lowered humidity. However, low-humidity climates can have as many health challenges as benefits. Learning about the unique dynamics of arid environment living is essential to adapting, surviving, and thriving in dry weather.
Benefits of a Dry Environment
Many of the benefits of dry environments come from two main secondary traits of these areas: added sunlight and warmer weather.
Sunlight supplies Vitamin D, a crucial vitamin in which many modern people have a deficiency. In addition to overall better health, Vitamin D can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Warmer weather in dry environments also prevents many of the health problems of cold winters. Hyperthermia becomes a bigger danger as people age and are less sensitive to cold. This contributes to more deaths during cold climate winters. Warmer, drier weather reduces these winter deaths and lowers heart strain on top of it.
Consequences of a Dry Environment
Inversely, dry weather can put wear on some areas of the body. There are several consequences of low humidity environments.
Worsened respiratory ailments and increased risk of colds and flu - Contrary to common thought, dry air actually increases virus transmissibility and intensity. This is because arid air dries the bronchial tubing fluid and nasal mucus that protects the respiratory system from irritation and foreign intruders. This correlates with a COVID-19 study in 2020 that found raised virus transmission levels in drier environments. For the same reason, arid air in airways can worsen respiratory ailments.
Dehydration and dry skin - It's no surprise that dry environments suck moisture from the body. Not only does breathing expend water vapor, skin also constantly evaporates liquids to regulate body temperature. Drier environments require the body to evaporate more sweat to cool than humid environments, where moisture remains on the skin. The result is a higher likelihood of dehydration and less elastic, flakier skin.
Higher Stress - A study which monitored workers' stress levels in various humidities found that dry offices caused the highest heart rates and stress levels.
Irritated Eyes - Similar to the respiratory drying effect, low humidity environments can cause the eyes' tear film to dry and become irritated. This irritation makes eyes more prone to infection.
Solutions for a Dry Environment
Luckily, most health impacts of dry environments can be mitigated by a few changes in selfcare.
- Combat respiratory dryness by using humidifiers indoors and moisturizing the nose with nasal spritzes.
- Keep your immune system strong with vitamins and healthy practices, like regularly visiting the chiropractor.
- Continuously drink water to stay hydrated and refresh dry skin with moisturizer (best applied right out of the shower) and lip balm.
- Carry eye drops to lubricate your eyes when needed.
Being aware of potential dry weather health concerns prepares you for its effects. Simple lifestyle adaptations can have you thriving in an arid environment, just as our human ancestors did for generations before.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hurst, Tex.