Can Low Humidity Cause Headaches? Here’s The Answer!

Can low humidity cause headaches? According to experts, dry air can be the culprit behind your nagging headache at home. In this post, I discuss how this happens, what you can do to ease the pain, and how to prevent it in the future.

Take note that headaches are general symptoms. It can be due to humidity issues or health conditions that require professional medical attention. While we aim to provide solutions here, a physician is still the best person to consult.

Can low humidity cause headaches?

can low humidity cause headaches

Changes in humidity can cause various health problems, especially for those who are immuno-compromised. Individuals with respiratory issues are also more susceptible to irritations related to these changes.

When it comes to headaches, low humidity is a notorious culprit. Let me explain how.

When the air is too dry, the nasal passages of a person also experience dryness. Extended periods of humidity will eventually cause the mucus membranes on the nasal passage to crack.

The cracked and dry mucus membranes will become painful and inflamed. This can trigger headaches of varying intensities, called sinusitis headaches.

Moreover, the headache due to low humidity worsens as blood supply gets restricted in the sinus cavities. This condition will result in a pounding headache that may require medication for immediate relief.


Low humidity increases off-gassing.

On the other hand, low humidity also worsens off-gassing. Off-gassing is the release of chemicals from various materials like paint, carpeting, insulation, and even curtains.

Unfortunately, low humidity allows the toxic fumes from these items to off-gas even more. It allows the gas molecules to spread even further into the air due to the lack of moisture. And when you’re exposed to off-gassing for extended periods, it can trigger headaches and respiratory problems.

Studies found that relative humidity indeed impacts off-gassing rates. It affects the rate of ozone production as well as the release of formaldehyde from various materials.


Low humidity increases the intensity of allergies

Aside from drying your nasal passages, low humidity can also make allergic reactions much worse. Since there are no water molecules to trap the allergens, most of them will remain airborne and easily inhaled. The allergens can also travel with ease, allowing them to spread all over your home.

Some of these allergens are pollens, mold spores, and dust. And for those with allergies, an allergic attack could be coupled with intense headache, nose bleeding, and intense respiratory distress.


Extremely low humidity is associated with dehydration.

During the winter and fall season, humidity levels can be extremely low. In some cases, humidity can dip in as steep as 20%, which can cause severe skin and nose dryness.

Aside from irritating the mucus membrane, low humidity is believed to make dehydration worse. Dehydration can trigger headaches, light-headedness, lethargy, and weakness. Still, the low humidity level is merely a contributing factor in this case.


Low humidity makes you vulnerable to infections

Low humidity levels affect your body’s ability to fight off pathogens. Once your mucus membranes are inflamed, it will not be effective in trapping viruses and flushing them out of your system.

Aside from that, your capillaries are more exposed when your mucus membranes are inflamed. This allows pathogens to enter your bloodstream much easier.

In the process, your body will suffer from infections that will trigger symptoms like severe headaches, fever, lethargy, poor appetite, and so on. In some cases, this infection can result in secondary conditions that are much worse than the initial condition.


Other health problems related to low humidity

Aside from headaches, low humidity can also trigger other health problems. The following are some of these:

  • Eczema flare-ups. Eczema flare-ups get worse when the air is extremely dry. This makes the skin crack and sore, which can be unbearable for eczema sufferers. Those suffering from this condition also experience severe itching as low humidity makes the skin drier.
  • Poor sleep quality. Low humidity levels are as uncomfortable as high humidity. This will affect your sleep quality, especially if you have nighttime allergies. Also, the dry air will make your nose dry and sore, which can wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • Throat irritation. Dry air will make you feel thirsty as it makes your throat equally dry and scratchy. Make sure that you drink lots of water as it will make you susceptible to coughing. Swallowing your saliva to compensate for the dryness will just make the irritation worse. It’s best to take a sip of water once your throat feels dry.

How to combat extremely low humidity

Low humidity can wreak havoc on your health, especially for long periods. To prevent this from happening, here’s what you can do:

✔️Use a humidifier

The best way to curb low humidity is using a humidifier. This will eject water molecules into the air, which can soothe dry noses, chapped lips, and sore skin.

Ensure that you’re using distilled water in your humidifier to avoid irritations. Also, it’s important to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid mold formation.

Most importantly, you should match the size of the humidifier to the size of your room. This way, it can humidify efficiently without having to refill the tank repeatedly throughout the day.

✔️Consider running an air purifier as well

Allergens and low humidity are a dangerous mix. So if your indoor air is also polluted, you should consider running an air purifier to eliminate the allergens. Just make sure that the two devices are placed away from each other.

Like choosing a humidifier, your air purifier must be sized accordingly. A very small one will take a long to eliminate pollutants while a very big one will just consume excessive electricity.

✔️Hang wet towels indoors

If you don’t have a humidifier, you can hang wet towels around the house. The moisture will evaporate, which will help elevate the humidity in your home.

However, make sure that the towels are hung away from the walls. Also, the water shouldn’t be dripping so as not to make your floors wet and slippery.

You can also dry your laundry indoors to increase the humidity level in your home.

✔️Grow some houseplants

Houseplants add moisture into the air as the stems and leaves release vapors. You should also keep the plants watered, but keep an eye on potential mold growth.

Moreover, you should be meticulous about your choice of houseplants if you have pets. Some common houseplants are toxic to canines.

✔️Put up an indoor fountain

Lastly, you can put up a small water fountain indoors to increase the moisture in the air. It will also add a Zen vibe to your house, thanks to the relaxing sound of trickling water.

However, you should keep your water fountains clean as they can become a harborage of bacteria.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the symptoms of low humidity?

A: Low humidity causes dry skin, inflamed mucus membranes, nose-bleeding, and chapped lips. You may also suffer from an itchy throat, asthma flare-ups, recurring allergies, and flu-like symptoms. In some cases, the dry air will increase static electricity, which explains why you get a sudden zap when touching metal surfaces like doorknobs.

Q: How do you get rid of humidity headaches?

A: If you’re having headaches due to low humidity, drinking a lot of water will be a big help. You should also get enough sleep and never skip meals. Running a humidifier will also help balance the humidity levels in your home to combat the headache. If you still have a headache after doing this, paracetamol will surely help.

Q: Is it hard to breathe in low humidity?

A: Dry air will make it hard for a person to breathe, especially those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). It’s important to maintain a healthy humidity level to avoid flare-ups that could make the situation worse. Even if you’re completely healthy, low humidity can still trigger respiratory irritations.

Q: What is a good humidity level for indoors?

A: Indoor spaces should have a humidity level of around 30% to 50. Other individuals will need a slightly higher level at 60% to remain comfortable. Overall, anything lower or higher than this can be irritating. You can use a humidifier to ensure that your indoor humidity levels won’t fall below unhealthy levels.

Q: Can low humidity affect sleep?

A: Very low humidity will affect your sleep. It will make your skin, lips, and nose dry, which can wake you up in the middle of the night. In many cases, low humidity can cause nose-bleeding. This is painful as the dry air makes the nasal passages crack. So if your place has low humidity, you should consider running a humidifier to balance the moisture level in the air.


Final words

Can low humidity cause headaches? Very little moisture in the air can dry your nasal passages and cause pounding headaches.

This is why it’s important to monitor your home’s indoor air quality to ensure that humidity isn’t going below the ideal level. It will also help a lot to use a humidifier during low-humidity conditions.