Can Dry Air Cause Congestion?

The sun rising over a hot and dry desert.

As the summer sun beats down and the air turns drier than a desert breeze, even a simple stroll outside can feel like an unexpected journey through the Sahara. But amidst the heat and arid atmosphere, a question arises: can this dry air actually lead to more than just discomfort?

Could it be conspiring to cause congestion, leaving you grappling with unexpected nasal woes? Join us as we unravel the surprising connections between dry air and stubborn congestion, delving deeper into a phenomenon that might be right under your nose.

So Can Dry Air Cause Congestion?

The short answer is yes, it can. There's a reason for this.

As you breathe through your nose, it warms the air you inhale. Your nose also humidifies that air with the moisture in the air that evaporates from the lining of your nasal passages.

Dry air and cold air can cause nasal congestion because they irritate and inflame those delicate passages, increasing mucus production.

If the irritated nasal passages haven't caused congestion, the extra mucus will. Dry air irritates your throat too, and can cause a sore throat. It can also cause irritants like bacteria, dust mites, and mold spores to dry out and become airborne. Breathing those in irritates your sinuses and contributes to congestion. [1]

Nosebleeds are a common side effect of dry sinuses also.

Needless to say, this can be a major problem in summer as well as in the winter months, where dry and cold air can be a double whammy.

So what can you do to fight nasal congestion caused by dry air?

If you've been reading our blog for a while, then you know that we recommend using a humidifier to combat nasal congestion caused by dry air.

So if that's the case, then just grab a humidifier and go, right? Wrong!

It's not the humidity itself that helps your allergies, it's the right balance of humidity. 

Does Humidity Make Allergies Worse?

The humidity level in the air will affect your allergies in different ways.

When you think about humidity, you probably think about air outside that is oppressively wet. The kind that makes it feel like you've just gotten out of a swimming pool while in reality, you're drenched in sweat from both the heat and the wet air.

We've already gone over how too-dry air affects your sinuses above. While humid air can relieve congestion caused by irritated sinuses, excessive humidity can cause its share of problems too.

Air that's too humid can contribute to allergy symptoms by:

  • Excessive humidity can encourage the growth of bacteria, dust mites, and mold
  • Roaches thrive in high humidity (bad news for those with roach allergies, and just in general)
  • Mold can grow in improperly maintained humidifiers, and be spread throughout the home [2]

To avoid irritation caused by too much (or not enough) humidity, your want to follow the Goldilocks Principle. Not too little, not too much; just right. For best results, the humidity in your home should be above 30 percent, but shouldn't exceed 50 percent. So if it's too dry, invest in a humidifier. If it's too humid, invest in a dehumidifier.

While it can be tricky if you live in particularly arid (or muggy) regions, finding the right balance of indoor humidity can make a huge difference when it comes to your nasal congestion. Of course, there are other ways to treat dry sinuses and nasal congestions that don't involve buying expensive new machines for your home.

How to Protect Your Sinuses from Dry Air

Even if you live in the middle of the desert, there are plenty of ways to prevent dry air from wreaking havoc on your sinuses. Here are 5 of our recommendations.

1. SinuSonic

When used in combination with (de)humidifiers and our other recommendations, SinuSonic can help tame your allergies— even on the driest (or muggiest) of days.

Using SinuSonic twice daily can help relieve nasal congestion by increasing motility in your nose, hurrying any pesky irritants out as well as reducing inflammation caused by dry air. Regular use can also help you breathe more deeply and more efficiently.

2. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is an easy way to help your mucus membranes stay moisturized and prevent your nose from running amok. 

Herbal tea (like peppermint tea) can also keep you hydrated and soothe allergy symptoms like coughing and a sore throat. 

Foods like water-rich produce, chicken broth, or chicken soup can also help keep you hydrated and your symptoms at bay.

3. Take a Hot Shower

Indulging in a warm shower not only rejuvenates your body but can also be a powerful remedy for alleviating an irritated or blocked nose caused by dry air. 

As you shower, inhale the steam— those water droplets suspended in the air provide a simple yet effective way to introduce moisture to both the environment and your sinuses.

4. Use a Saline Solution or a Neti Pot

There are a lot of ways to moisturize your nasal passages— we've already covered humidifiers, hydration, and hot showers. While these are great options, they may only be addressing part of the problems if allergens like dust and pollen are making you miserable too.

Moisturizing your sinuses with a saline solution or a neti pot also helps flush out any irritants or allergens causing problems in your nose. These options are inexpensive and available at any pharmacy or grocery store. Be warned though, these can be messy options.

Try to avoid nasal sprays if at all possible. Overusing nasal spray does more harm than good and can make your nasal congestion worse and worse the longer you use it.

5. Keep Indoor Allergens to a Minimum

Even if you keep a clean home at a comfortable humidity, there may still be allergens lurking right under your nose! As the adage goes, "a stitch in time saves nine—" or, a little pre-planning saves a lot of misery down the line. Allergy-proofing your home helps keeps pesky allergens to a minimum and helps protect you from future problems.

Here are just a few ways you can allergy-proof your home:

  • Sweep, dust, and vacuum often. For best results, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Keeps windows and doors closed on high-pollen days. Instead, use air conditioning to keep your house cool.
  • Keep pets off the furniture if you have allergies to pet dander.
  • Use an allergy-grade air filter in your home's HVAC system.
  • Launder washable décor like blankets, pillows, and bedsheets in hot water to remove any allergens lurking in them.

Sinuses in a Dry Spell? Try SinuSonic!

Whether it's the middle of summer or the dead of winter, dry air can make you feel stuffed up, sniffly, and uncomfortable. Using a humidifier is one option to fight nasal congestion caused by dry air, but it's not the “be all end all” option. Extra humidity can help, but too much can cause its own set of problems.

But don't worry, there's plenty you can do to keep dry air from giving you a stuffy nose, even if you live in arid places like Death Valley, the Sahara Desert, or Tatooine.

Nasal congestion leaving you high and dry? Give SinuSonic a try!

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  1. “How Humidity Affects Allergies.” The Weather Channel, 28 June 2023, 
  2. “Humidifiers and Indoor Allergies.” American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology,