While in Europe recently, I discovered that I did not need to use nasal irrigation to prevent nasal congestion. I brought a WaterPik travel device that I often use for this purpose when I’m away from home, but didn’t feel the need to use it even once during the entire month we were away. I attribute this to the higher humidity levels in Europe compared to Colorado where we live.

I normally use nasal irrigation with a saline solution once or twice a day. It would be unthinkable to spend a month in Colorado without doing this. I will almost certainly get a sinus infection during this period of time, even as I continue to take my regular medication.

According to Dr. Robert Ivker, DO, past president of the American Holistic Medical Association, the ideal level of relative humidity for sinus health is between 35 and 45%. In one of the hotels we stayed in in France, I noticed that the humidity was in the low 70% range, and I’m sure it was at least this high at other times during the month. For whatever reason, this humidity level seems to work best for my particular nasal congestion problems, and I’ve noticed the general trend for fewer sinus problems in Europe before. We travel there quite frequently as we operate tours in France. Dr. Ivker prefers to use a warm mist room humidifier that does not require filters and kills bacteria. He claims to have had good luck with the Bionaire Clear Mist units.

Returning from this latest trip, I decided to purchase an inexpensive humidity meter and put it in our bedroom to take a closer look at the actual levels in our sleeping environment. Right now, the levels are in the 50% range, which is pretty good. We live at over 7,000 feet high and have multiple windows open at night this time of year to cool the room. For most of the year we use a humidifier, especially in the winter months. When the oven is on, the humidity drops quite a bit, and now I’ll be able to monitor the levels and make better use of a humidifier with the humidity meter. Air conditioning will also dry out the air in a room or in a car, so keeping a close eye on this is important for people like me who continually struggle with stuffy nose issues.

The device I bought was an inexpensive thermometer and humidity meter combination. It was only around $ 4, but digital devices with more functionality can be found in the $ 20-40 range at stores like Kmart or Walmart. I would highly recommend that people suffering from chronic sinusitis make this small investment and keep a device to measure relative humidity while they sleep and possibly in their work environments as well. This simple article can be an important tool in everyone’s sinusitis regimen to help prevent nasal congestion, especially while sleeping.

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