Can Your HVAC System Be Causing Sinus Problems?

Climate control, or the ability to heat and cool our environments to our hearts' content, is a hallmark of modern convenience. But this ability to fine-tune the temperature in our homes comes at a price that may extend beyond the amount that arrives on our monthly bill.

We see part of this added cost in the way our skin dries out each winter. Harvard Health Publishing states that our outermost epidermis, or layer of skin, reflects the amount of moisture in the air around it. Humans have little control over the moisture content of outdoor air, but those of us who use heating in our homes are responsible for the lack of moisture indoors.

Cracked, dry skin is enough of a problem. But it turns out that this problem may be more than skin deep. The same systems that dry out our skin each winter while we try to stay warm may also be causing thick drainage down the back of the throat, tenderness and swelling around the eyes and nose, and dulling of our senses of taste and smell (via Mayo Clinic). In short, they may be causing sinus issues.

HVAC systems dry our sinuses

Phillips is one of the biggest names in appliances today. And they don't mince words when it comes to the way a heater affects the moisture in a home's air. The company explains that both poor insulation and heaters contribute to dry air. Poor insulation causes the home to become cold, leading to the need for more heating. And heaters dry out what little moisture is in the air to begin with, as indoor air cannot gain moisture from rain, plants, or trees.

The company recommends fixing the situation with a humidifier. Their suggestion closely mirrors many of the medically advised home remedies for basic sinus issues — at least those that are not caused by infections.

WebMD suggests no fewer than four different ways to add moisture to agitated sinuses. These include applying a nasal saline spray, breathing in steam two to four times a day, applying a warm damp cloth to the forehead a few times a day, and even adding a humidifier to the home. They also suggest a neti pot which, in addition to fully rinsing the sinuses (as stated by Cleveland Clinic), literally puts water in your sinuses.

HVAC systems have kept countless people warm who would have otherwise faced incredibly harsh winters. But they also cause dry air that can do bad things to our sinuses. Luckily there are pretty easy ways to correct the problem, giving us all of the benefits and none of the sinus pain.