Winter is commonly known as cold and flu season, but for many Canadians, it could just as easily be called headache season.
Why do so many of us seem to get more headaches in winter than in summer?
There is no definitive answer to this question, but there are some common culprits to be aware of. Some of these even have easy fixes to help you start feeling better fast.
What Causes Headaches?
Headaches can be triggered by all sorts of different factors. In some cases, there may even be genes involved.
But more commonly, headaches come about due to changes in our outer environment. While some of these changes may be within our control, we may have no direct control over others.
Common environmental triggers that bring on headaches for many people include changes in temperature, humidity, air quality, posture, dietary choices, sleep quality and medications.
Luckily, these are all aspects of our daily environment over which we have at least some control.
What We Know About Indoor Air Quality in Canada
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most recent indoor air quality report for North America tells us that our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than the air outside.
The Canadian Lung Association tells us that most Canadians spend up to 90 percent of an average day indoors.
When we put these two statistics together, it is easy to see how our indoor air can literally be making our head hurt!
Winter Dehydration Is a Leading Cause of Headaches
Perhaps the most common reason many people experience more headaches during the winter is modern heating.
Forced air heating systems can dry out the already dry winter air even more, sometimes depleting indoor air humidity to the point at which your body is literally starving for moisture.
This is why the EPA recommends keeping your indoor air humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. Aim for the higher end of this spectrum if anyone in your family struggles with seasonal allergies or winter asthma symptoms.
Did you know your brain is comprised of about 73 percent water?
So when indoor air humidity levels drop drastically and you get dehydrated, this can actually cause your brain to shrink! As your brain tissue contracts and pulls away from your skull, this causes pain that you perceive as a headache.
By adding back humidity to your indoor air, you can rehydrate your brain so it returns to its normal size and shape and stops hurting.
Indoor Air Toxicity Is a Leading Cause of Headaches
The other leading cause of winter headaches is indoor air toxicity.
This is because it is toxic indoor air that helps cold and flu germs, bacteria, mould and mildew spores, pollen, dust mites, pet dander, volatile organic compounds and other airborne matter enter your body and make you feel sick.
For homes and workplaces using ducted heating systems, these toxins often end up getting trapped in the air ducts and recirculated throughout the space.
Fast Fixes for Winter Headaches
Often, this is the time of year when you get to see out-of-town family and friends, attend fun parties, take time off school or work, and relax or enjoy winter play and sports.
But it is hard to enjoy any of these activities when your head is pounding!
This is what we recommend to improve the atmosphere and air quality inside your home or workplace to reduce winter headaches.
Use a humidifier
Adding back restorative humidity to your indoor air is one of the easiest fixes to help you start feeling better fast.
There are two main ways you can do this, depending on how severe your symptoms are and how many family members or workers are affected.
Portable humidifiers are great for small spaces – there are even car humidifiers now that can help you breathe easier behind the wheel.
You can also use larger portable room humidifiers for small living or workspaces. And central humidifiers can work with ducted heating systems for winter or year-round use.
Flow-through humidifiers work directly with your HVAC components, while steam humidifiers simply add steam directly to your indoor air.
Upgrade to a HEPA filter
HEPA filtration will handily remove floating microbes, germs and solid toxins as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair.
Here again, you can opt for a portable HEPA filter for small spaces or a central system that can work with your HVAC units.
Add a UV air purifier
UV air purifiers are the industry standard to neutralize gaseous and liquid toxins including volatile organic compounds emitted from cleaning products, air “fresheners,” craft supplies and tobacco use.
UV air purifiers are also available in portable or central sizes.
Have your air ducts cleaned and sanitized
For a true reset that eliminates airborne toxins hiding in your air duct system, the gold standard is an indoor air duct cleaning and sanitizing service.
First, all trapped matter is securely vacuumed out using negative pressure commercial grade vacuum equipment. Next, your air duct system is completely sanitized against any remaining microscopic toxins.
This service is truly transformative and does not need to be done frequently. For persistent headaches and other health symptoms that do not respond to anything else you have tried, there is no better method to start feeling better fast.
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.