How heating affects our health: tips and precautions

How heating affects our health: tips and precautions

The arrival of winter and low temperatures make heating essential, especially in cold areas, but if we are not careful and use it excessively and/or improperly it can also negatively affect our health.

Although it is variable according to each person, usually the sensation of cold appears when the temperature falls of 20 or 21 degrees, in the absence of physical activity, being then necessary to use heating.

The main problems of heating for health are:

  • Problems caused by increased temperature and dryness of the environment
  • Problems due to the production of toxic substances (bad combustion, malfunction, obstruction of the smoke output …) with certain heating systems: wood or gas stoves, fireplaces, etc…

Next, we will discuss in more detail these problems for our health derived from the use of heating, as well as some tips and precautions to prevent them.

Problems caused by excess temperature and dryness of the environment

To prevent the appearance of problems for our health, the ideal is to ensure that the ambient temperature does not rise above 23º, and that the humidity remains between 50 and 70%.

In case the temperature exceeds 26 degrees, there is an uncomfortable and unpleasant heat sensation, which can diminish the capacity of response of our organism´s defenses. Those who suffer from asthma or other respiratory diseases are more affected.

To maintain adequate and stable temperature at all times, it is best to use a thermostat that controls the heating system automatically.

At higher temperatures, the environment also dries up more, and this can cause:

  • Dry skin, which can cause discomfort such as itching, and can also cause an increase in peeling skin.
  • Dryness of the mucous membrane in the respiratory tract, which can cause bacteria to not be eliminated properly, thus facilitating infections.
  • Ocular dryness also occurs, which may facilitate the appearance of conjunctivitis.

To prevent dryness in the environment it is recommended to use humidifiers to prevent the environment from drying out too much.

Risks of different heating systems

Different types of heating have different risks and can affect us in different ways:

  • The least harmful are the electric heating systems and water radiators with gas or oil boiler, since they dry less the environment than other heating systems.
  • The air conditioning with heat pump is the one that dries the environment the most.
  • Heating by radiant wire or water circuits that are installed in the ground, when adjusted to high temperatures, can aggravate circulatory problems such as, for example, varicose veins.

Risks of combustion heating systems

Special care must be taken with combustion heating systems, such as wood, coal or gas stoves and fireplaces, etc… In case of malfunction, obstruction of the smoke exits, or bad combustion, can produce very harmful gases and that they accumulate in dangerous quantities.

Of the harmful gases produced in a bad combustion, carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous, since carbon monoxide poisoning produces, first of all, loss of consciousness and later cardiorespiratory arrest. In addition, it is colorless, odorless and does not produce irritation or cough, so it is difficult to perceive it. If carbon monoxide poisoning is mild, can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and respiratory distress.

In addition to carbon monoxide, bad combustion can also release other irritating and severely damaging substances to the respiratory system, especially in stoves and fireplaces of coal and firewood.

How to prevent risks when using combustion heating systems

To prevent these risks if we use one of these combustion heating systems, it is very important to always keep in mind the following:

  • Make sure that these heating systems work properly and are in good condition, do not use them if we detect any problem.
  • Always follow the instructions of the heating device´s manufacturer.
  • In the case of stoves that do not have an adequate exit of gases to the outside, as a precaution, open a window every so often to ventilate the room well.

Finally, in case of suffering from poisoning caused by the gases of any heating system, even a slight one, it is necessary to go as soon as possible to the nearest medical center. If you are on the Costa del Sol, remember that at Vithas Xanit International Hospital, located in Benalmádena, we have an emergency service available 24 hours a day.