Why does humidity make you feel so awful?

Solenco Reporter
 October 03, 2016
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It's summer. The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising, and the air is a hot, sticky mess. That steamy feeling that washes over you when you step outside is all thanks to the humidity in the air. And it can wreak havoc on your body when you're trying to stay cool.

To understand how humidity affects the human body, you need to understand how the body responds to heat. As you probably already know, when the temperature rises, your body reacts by releasing sweat. But sweating only works when the moisture excreted through the skin actually evaporates. When the humidity is high, the air is already full of moisture and it therefore can't absorb the sweat from your skin.

Here’s what these steamy days are doing to your body

Think of the air like a sponge. When the humidity is low, that sponge can absorb plenty of water. But when it's very humid, that sponge is full of water and can't absorb any more. So you're sweating like crazy but you're not getting any cooler.

As your internal temperature continues to rise, your body responds by cranking out even more sweat, leaving you feeling hot, sticky and in danger of dehydration. With all of that sweat that your body is pumping out, you're losing water, salt and minerals.

High levels of humidity make the temperature feel even hotter than it really is because the moisture in the air makes it difficult for our bodies to cool down. This also makes the opposite true that as soon as you remove the excess moisture from the air by means of a dehumidifier, it will feel cooler. Just as meteorologists tell us the wind chill in the winter to describe how the temperature really feels when winter winds are blowing, they use the heat index to describe how high temps feel when the humidity rises.

What is the heat index?

The heat index is a measure of how hot it really feels when the effects of humidity are added to high temperature. To alert the public to the dangers of exposure to extended periods of heat and the added effects of humidity a Heat Index table is used to correlate measured temperature and humidity into an apparent temperature.

When the humidity is 30 percent or below, the air temperature feels more or less like what you see on the thermometer, but as the humidity rises, so does the temperature. That is why a hot 32?C day feels like an unbearable 40 ?C when the humidity is 70%. It feels even hotter as the humidity rises.

As if all of that weren't enough to leave you feeling exhausted, humidity can also wreak havoc on your sinuses, as high humidity causes both dust mite populations and mould colonies to grow. If you hide indoors to escape, you could be exposing yourself to excessive levels of allergens that leave you feeling headache-y and fatigued.


So what can you do to combat the effects of humidity on your body? On hot summer days, keep track of the humidity just as you would the temperature. When it's high, be sure to drink plenty of water, slow down and rest as often as possible to give your body a chance to cool down and recover.

Invest in a good dehumidifier

A good dehumidifier will get rid of the excess water in the air – the root cause of condensation and humidity.

High humidity can cause all kinds of problems. It can make clothing go mouldy in your cupboard, it's bad for computers (it can cause rusting or short circuits inside their cases) and optical equipment (that's why things like cameras and binoculars are sold with water-absorbing sachets of silica gel) - and it's bad for your health too. According to a scientific review of the health effects of humidity published in 1986 by Arundel et al, high levels of indoor humidity can encourage a flourishing of bacteria, viruses, mites and fungi, and more respiratory infections and sicknesses: ‘The majority of adverse health effects caused by relative humidity would be minimized by maintaining indoor levels between 40 and 60%.’

A dehumidifier is a bit like a vacuum cleaner: it sucks in air from your room at one end, takes the moisture out of it, and then blows it back out into the room again. The moisture drips through into a collection tank that you have to empty, from time to time.

For more information on our different dehumidifiers or to order yours today, click here.



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