This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infect... - CLL Support

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This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season

cujoe
cujoe

As we are now well into the flu & cold season, this article seems appropriate for those of us with more (or less) compromised immune systems. (And, yes, I have had my annual flu shot.)

forbes.com/sites/leahbinder...?

Hat tip to the excellent cat lovin' Multiple Myeloma (smoldering in her case) blog, Margaret's Corner, for the Forbes link.(margaret.healthblogs.org/)

So, Stay Humid & Be Well - cujoe

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12 Replies
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I'm going to go turn up my humidifier now

john

AussieNeil
AussieNeilAdministrator

Interesting counterintuitive finding. I assumed, with plenty of company I note), that dry air would reduce the spread of flu. Her findings make sense given dry air doesn't kill the virus, but increases its spread. Given the low rate of flu vaccinations in the USA this flu season, this is timely news, given this survey showed that 37% don't plan to be vaccinated.

mdedge.com/chestphysician/a...

“Widespread misconceptions exist regarding the safety and efficacy of flu shots. Because of the way the flu spreads in a community, failing to get a vaccination not only puts you at risk but also others for whom the consequences of the flu can be severe. Policymakers should focus on changing erroneous beliefs about immunizing against the flu,” said Caitlin Oppenheimer, who is senior vice president of public health research for the NORC, which has conducted the National Immunization Survey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2005. (My emphasis)

I would be dubious about the humidity measurement accuracy of a $10 hygrometer, but it would at least inform you how successful you were regarding your attempts to humidity internal air and 40 to 60% is a wide range. It might be better to buy a reasonable quality weather station to measure indoor humidity. For about US$100, you can buy one that has a solar powered external unit that reports outside humidity and temperature, wind strength and direction, rainfall, insolation and most importantly UV radiation, so you know when to take greater precautions against sun exposure. Where I live, the UV radiation is typically under 3 in the cooler months but can go over 15 in summer.

Neil

Thank you for this informative article. I had heard about dry air being a health risk, but this is the first I had read about studies to prove it. Much appreciated - got to get another humidifier!

HikerBiker - Thanks is due to Margaret's Corner. She has "beat the system" for smoldering MM for years now and, while posting a lot about her many cats and vacations, she is a go to source for info on that and other related blood disorders.

Curiously, I have a sister and bro-in-law who I frequently stay with on trips to see out-of-town doctors. They have forced air HVAC and both seem to have chronic respiratory issues; i.e., chronic cough for one and sinus congestion the other They also seem overly prone to colds and other bugs. As a result, I've wondered for years if it might be related to their heat and AC system, so when I saw the posted article, I immediately thought of their situation and mentioned the article to her. Her response was that she was concerned about the sanitation issues in maintaining a humidifier?

And she is right that it can be an issue. See this

time.com/4685972/humidifier...

I live on a 30 foot sailboat and heat with an electric oil-filled radiator. It provides safe, quiet, even, and noiseless, but 100% dry heat. My solution is to place a damp cloth on top of the radiator to add humidity to the interior air as the heat rises from the radiator. This is especially important during sleep times when the boat is closed up tight for an extended period of time.

Maybe this is prone to being one of those dastardly situations where in solving one problem, you have to be very careful not to create another one just as bad.

Good Luck no matter how wet or dry your air is & Be Well - cujoe

MsLockYourPosts
MsLockYourPostsVolunteer in reply to cujoe

I used a humidifier for years, but got tired of maintaining it. A couple of pans of water sitting on the floor vents, or damp towels hung near them do the job nicely.

Hopefully your sister will consider a good cleaning for her air ducts and maybe a better filter, even if she doesn't do anything to add humidity.

cllady01
cllady01Volunteer

I would suggest the home heating and the fact that a household of humans all have varying degrees of tolerating heat/cold in winter, can be a cause of colds from this dry air situation. During the day I keep my thermostat as low as I can tolerate, dress layered (look a bit like a hobo with some of this).

Especially at night, people think they need the house warmer at night to be able to sleep. I have found I can cut my heat down to 60 degrees at night all winter long, regardless of the outside temp, and not suffer from nose bleeds caused by the dryness caused by heating.

Since I have begun to do that faithfully, put on another, warmer blanket, use saline spray AM and PM, breathe deeply in the steam from my shower, AND take advantage of the steam from tea kettle, I (and this is a dangerous thing to say--for the superstitious and, ever increasing immune compromised) I have avoided a cold since the last one that went into sinus infection in Dec. 2015.

I have the control of the thermostat, which is to my advantage in this endeavor---and, I don't assume it is foolproof or the end of all colds. I have just found that so far it works for me who from an early age suffered from sinus infections every year.

Cllady - For many years I lived in New England (that's in the US for you people outside our borders) and did exactly what you describe - only I did it initially because the poorly insulated apartments I lived in required that I do that in order to be financially solvent come Springtime. I have always heard and read that keeping the thermostat down in winter is good for your health. And while it didn't keep me from getting either of my cancers, I never had any really serious illnesses during the 12+ years I lived there.

So, it sounds like you are proof positive for those benefits. (And I'm betting you get No Jinx on the call out.) Keep Being Well @ 60 degrees - cujoe

cllady01
cllady01Volunteer in reply to cujoe

cujoe, my last bout with sinus infection and the need for more than one antibiotic, and the slow recovery, helped me become more vigilant.

My neighbor who just turned 100 last week, keeps her house so hot, I can't stay there long for visits in cold weather. She, has, for the last 4 years had a deep respiratory reaction to getting a cold.

Nothing I say, seems to make her see the possibility of why, so i don't nag her--after all, she has lived a good many years longer than I. It makes me think, "there is more than one way to be hard of hearing"--she does have hearing aids and her eyesight is poor, and still she persists!

Cllady - Love the "hard of hearing line". Truly made my day! And as most of my sibings are aflicted with both the medical version and the other one you speak of, I expect I will soon find an appropriate occassion to use it.

I owe you one - Be Well - cujoe

Interesting. I wonder how living in a humid climate or dry climate affects rates of infection...

This is the sort of newsy article that cites no sources, and sounds revolutionary. Maybe it is. It's hard to tell, though.

I found a reference to the doctor in the article from 2012:

vtcng.com/stowe_reporter/ne...

She has many engineering articles:

esmagazine.com/authors/2235...

I find several Stephanie Taylors on PubMed, so I don't know if she's been publishing medical papers.

I certainly feel that hospitals are too cold - in several senses!

Here in Louisiana, we often see dew points right around room temperature. So dehumidification of air conditioning is mandatory here, lest fungus grow all through the ventilation system. I can recall an entire ward in the hospital where I worked being shut for almost a year to have everything ripped down to girders and concrete to properly clean mold.

Respiratory infections in the general population probably precede infections in hospitals.

It's interesting to me that this season, the flu took off down here along in Louisiana in October, where the humidity seldom drops below 50%, even in winter.

cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm

You can scroll through the dates (eventually, the link will jump to the next season, I believe. Ye archaeologists, beware).

So I'm thinking that it's certainly not all due to dry air.

Flu seasonality in the tropics varies more than higher latitudes:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

I'm thinking that travel is a factor in more temperate climes, but I don't think anyone really knows all the factors. At some point, worldwide genetic analysis of the virus will become common, and more clues may show on a map. They may still not be able to identify Patient zero for many infections that mutate constantly.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index...

One way to avoid the continous work to "clean and desinfect" humidifiers could be to use small diffusers with or without oils (eucalyphus etc.). I am using now VicTsing 300ml diffuser(cost $ 30 ), which just needs a quick wipe before reloading with water for 6 hour steam. But just one may not be sufficient for a large room. I use purified water. I do not know yet whether is makes a difference...

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