Battling Winter Illnesses with Air Purifiers

As winter weather keeps people indoors, more exposure to poor indoor air quality in your home increases the risk of catching a cold or flu. Running an air purifier offers another line of defense in the fight against winter illnesses by removing the harmful particles that can make you and your family sick.

An air purifier beside a dog.
Photo credit: Jenn Allen.

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Why indoor air quality gets worse during the winter

The average home contains a variety of air pollutants. Dust, dander, bacteria and other germs circulate through the air all year long. Respiratory droplets, the tiny water particles that coughing, sneezing and even breathing release, travel through the air, potentially carrying viruses that could cause the flu or Covid-19.

Keeping the air in your home healthy is always a good idea, but it becomes especially important in the colder months. In winter, people spend more time indoors, increasing their exposure to these pollutants. Many families also seal their homes up tightly to help keep cold air out, but this keeps germs, dust, and smells from baking and cooking dishes like chicken and dumplings locked inside.

The lack of ventilation and more contact with germs makes you more likely to get sick in the winter, explains the team at Oransi, a leading air purifier manufacturer. In addition, poor indoor air quality can make these illnesses more severe and make recovery take longer if you get sick.

How air purifiers can prevent respiratory illness

Removing harmful pathogens is key to keeping your air clean. This is where an air purifier can help. As the air in a room circulates, the air purifier traps the particles and releases the clean air back into the room.

Erin Bunch at Well+Good spoke with epidemiologist Dr. Timothy Brewer, MD, who notes, “There is at least laboratory data to suggest that these filters are capable of removing viral-infected respiratory droplets from the air.” Reducing respiratory droplets and other airborne particles will limit your exposure to germs in your home, lessening your risk for colds, COVID-19, and other illnesses.

Woman touching her air purifier
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

The right type of air purifier for winter illnesses

With many types of air purifiers on the market, choosing one that will be effective against the pathogens that cause winter illnesses is important. Choose a brand that makes various products, and always look at reviews before purchasing. Some brands, like Medify Air, specialize in home air purifiers. These are some options to keep in mind when selecting an air purifier:

  • HEPA filters: Some of the most effective air purifiers against cold-weather illnesses are high-efficiency particulate air filters or HEPA filters. These filters capture microscopic particles that are less than 0.3 microns in diameter, according to Dr. Brewer. This means they can remove many viruses, bacteria, and dust that can lead to illness. HEPA filters are available in portable air purifiers and for HVAC systems.
  • UV germicidal lights: Another air purifier option is a UV germicidal light. DeHart Plumbing, Heating, and Air Inc. recommends installing a UV germicidal light in your ductwork. Ultraviolet air purifiers work as whole-house air purification systems against winter illness. UV radiation kills bacterial and viral cells as air passes the light, making the germs in your indoor air harmless.

Whatever type of air purifier you choose, you will need one big enough for your space. Smaller, stand-alone air purifiers can keep the air clean in a single room, such as in a living room or bedroom. For larger, whole-house air purifiers, your local HVAC company can help you choose which air purification system is most effective against the pollutants in your home.

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04/21/2024 02:33 pm GMT

Improve respiratory health with air purifiers.

In addition to decreasing your family’s overall risk for illnesses, an air purifier can boost your respiratory health. Particles in the air can transmit viruses. They can also cause allergies, increase asthma complications and lead to chronic symptoms like coughing and congestion.

At the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Paul Horvath, MD recommends running an air purifier to reduce respiratory issues. This  can help with respiratory issues by:

  • Reducing the risk of respiratory illness by minimizing the concentration of germs in the air.
  • Preventing reinfection in those already sick.
  • Removing allergens like dander and pollen that can trigger asthma or allergy attacks.

Breathing in clean air is ideal for everyone. If people in your home live with chronic respiratory conditions or are at high risk for illnesses in wintertime, keeping your indoor environment healthy with air purification becomes a necessity.

Air-purifier-filters.
Photo credit: Depositphotos.

Complementary strategies to use alongside air purifiers

While air purifiers can remove much of the dust, germs, and particulates in the air, they won’t get everything. A few additional strategies can help keep your family healthy throughout the winter.

It is important to practice routine health and safety habits. For instance, washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and staying current with vaccinations are essential in preventing the spread of germs around your home.

You can also take other steps to improve air quality. Increasing the ventilation in your home is an excellent way to reduce the buildup of dust and pollutants. According to the Mayo Clinic, the more indoor air you can replace with outdoor air, the better your air quality. Consider these ideas to increase ventilation when outdoor temperatures are cold.

  • Open your windows for a few minutes on warmer days.
  • Run a bathroom ventilation fan.
  • Use the outdoor air intake on your HVAC system when you run your furnace.
  • Keep a fan running on low to circulate air.

Cleaning more frequently can also remove dust that might collect on surfaces. Regularly vacuuming, wiping down flat surfaces and washing linens will keep bacteria from entering your home’s air.

Jenn's Favorite
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Improve wintertime health with an air purifier

If every winter has you anticipating the next time you will come down with a cold or the flu and chicken soup just doesn’t do the trick, or if a member of your family is struggling with asthma or allergies, poor indoor air quality might be to blame. Using an air purifier in your home can give you cleaner, healthier air with fewer pathogens.

An air purifier is invaluable as you battle winter illnesses. When used alongside basic health precautions, an air purifier can help you get over a cold, flu or allergies and stay healthy all season long.

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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