January 2012 Issue
December 22, 2011

Stay healthy, hydrated

Author: NYSUT health and safety specialist Wendy Hord
Source: NYSUT United

A common complaint, particularly in the winter months, is an increase of respiratory and sinus problems.

A big reason for the increase is the lack of humidity in the air. Those of you with malfunctioning thermostats can feel you're in a Swedish dry sauna.

There are some reasonable steps NYSUT members can take to reduce their chances of getting infections or having them linger on and on.

Humidity is very low in buildings because outside humidity levels drop dramatically in winter. Indoor levels are even lower when the air is heated. Very few spaces have humidification, so humidity percentages can be below 20 percent.

Our mucus membranes need to be moist to be healthy and 40 percent to 60 percent humidity levels are considered to be optimal indoors.

Two strategies are highly recommended: drink more water and keep sinuses moist with a saline nasal spray or rinse and eyes with lubricant eye drops. Drinking more water is not easy when there's little time for the bathroom, but your winter health will be better for it.

– Wendy Hord