Humidity Helps Fight Flu

Here’s a novel potential public health measure against the flu—kick up the humidity. The cold, dry months of winter signal the start of flu season. But previous research found only a weak correlation between the spike in flu rates and the drop in relative humidity. Now researchers from Oregon State University say that’s because it’s absolute, not relative, humidity that counts. Their study is in the February 9th edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Relative humidity is a function of temperature. During the dry winter, relative humidity is low in a warm house but high in the cold outside. Absolute humidity, however, is simply the total amount of water in the air. The less water in the air, the longer the flu virus survives. And that leads to a greater chance of someone catching the bug.

The scientists aren’t sure why humidity affects the flu virus survival. But they hope their discovery can be put to work. Emergency rooms and nursing homes, for example, could up their humidity during the winter. Maybe it’s time for a new health mantra: a sauna a day keeps the flu bug away.
—Adam Hinterthuer

Scientific American

 Humidity Helps Fight Flu
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8 thoughts on “Humidity Helps Fight Flu

  1. Also helps with carpal tunnel and other body aches. Tropical humid weather is very easy to be active in too. Just stating from my own experience. I really need to try some non traditional medicine or philosophy for my sickness. Taking pills everyday is just depressing and boring.

  2. @Puulaahi: What sickness (if you don’t mind me asking)? I have Psoriatic Arthritis (among others) and while humidity doesn’t always make it worse, low pressure weather systems absolutely do. I take a ridiculous number of medications. A few decades ago, I’d have been dead by the age of 30. AccuWeatheractually has an Arthritis Index that I check daily.

  3. Polymyositis/ Scleroderma overlap and due to that I have nephritis. I’ll let you look em up.:) Both I have mildly at the moment, luckily. Definitely have good days and bad days health wise. Because of them I have to take lots of pills too and change my diet. Tropic humid weather makes staying active very easy, as well as healthy food (fish, tropical fruits) easily available. So for me I guess it’s not simply the weather, but the tropical environment.

    Also allergic to shellfish. Almost died due to anaphylactic shock four times in the past year. One time I completely felt myself going too.

  4. @nyokki: Yup I bet we do: Weak, low stamina, muscle aches, low energy and have trouble eating food sometimes. Can’t drink too much alcohol and have to drink lots of fluids(water). Yet I somehow live a pretty normal life, just have trouble keeping up with everyone else in sports.

  5. @Puulaahi: I go years w/ no major problems. Unfortunately, things tend to snowball quickly downhill when something does go wrong. I got double pneumonia a couple of years ago. It started in November and took me until May before I had truly gotten past all the symptoms, though the fatigue really held on for a while after that. Since then, I’ve not had even a sniffle. Anything that requires antibiotics screw me up. I take a few immuno-suppressing drugs and have to stop them anytime I get an infection. Needless to say I do a lot to avoid getting an infection.

    @Anonymous: Gotta watch out for cooties. That’s why I use a flamethrower on all kids that are around me.

  6. @nyokki: Yeah, I have been pretty stable lately too. Keep it up. The doctors pretty much watching me to see if my sickness worsens. If it does things could go from bad to a lot worse.

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