Space heaters, such as electric and gas space heaters, are conventional alternatives for homeowners who want to keep warm in the winter on a budget. They are also a common bet for people who want to add more warmth to specific rooms with special needs. These small heaters do not require ductwork or installation like central heating gas furnaces do, and are typically more compact and portable.
But what if you don’t feel well while using one? Can a heater cause a sore throat or those pesky head pains? How can you make it stop without compromising your health and home comfort?
Read on to learn the answers.
Is Your Heating Appliance Giving You a Sore Throat or Headache?
These are the classic signs of how your electric or gas space heater at home can cause sore throat and headaches.
- Dehydration. Sore throats and headaches can be caused by an extreme lack of moisture in the air inside your home and in your body. If you use your space heaters for an extended period, it could dry out your throat and nasal airways making them inflamed and easily irritated. Improper sizing of the heater versus the room you put it in can also trigger sore throats and migraines.
- Poor indoor air quality. An unmaintained space heater can have dust and dirt buildup and can trigger allergies manifesting as sore throats and headaches. The off-gassing or evaporation of household chemicals due to the increase in temperature also causes head pains and pharyngitis.
- Carbon monoxide fumes. Small gas heaters produce heat by burning natural gas, LPG, propane, or butane. Carbon monoxide is a constant byproduct of any combustion process and at low levels can cause headache, dizziness, sore throat, coughing, and other flu-like symptoms.
Signs Your Space or Electric Heating is Making You Sick
While purchasing small heaters will not generally break the bank like a central heating furnace system would, you could still be at risk of some health hazards such as pharyngitis (the clinical term for sore throat) and head pains if you are not too careful with using portable electric and gas heaters.
Here are some ways these small heaters may be damaging your health right at your very home:
Believe it or not, the colder seasons are much drier than the summer. It is because cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air.
So if you combine the dry air of winter with another dry hot air–like in rooms heated by space heaters–the little water vapor left in the air could be snuffed out quickly as you turn it on.
Overuse of electric and gas heaters is bad news for our skin, lips, eyes, sinuses, and throats which need to stay moist all the time to prevent irritation. So if you constantly have cracked heels, parched lips, itchy eyes, clogged nose, and scratchy and painful throat, you might be running it too often. Dehydration can also lead to headaches if your body has become too low in electrolytes.
One other way your space heaters can create discomfort is if it is too big for the room it is supposed to warm. Unless you picked a thermostatic heater, you may not just be overheating the space but it could waste a lot of energy in the process.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
Since space heaters dry out the air and push allergens around they can lead to a sore throat. How?
Airborne pollutants, both biological and artificial, can undermine your indoor air quality and trigger mild to severe allergies. Allergies in turn have sore throats and headaches as familiar symptoms.
Persons with asthma, who are immuno-compromised, or have a weak respiratory system are the most vulnerable against small heaters infested with bacteria, viruses, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and other tiny insects.
Like with a furnace, it is crucial to clean and maintain small heaters. Regardless of its size, dust and dirt and other harmful particles can make their way to its system and trigger allergic reactions.
Additionally, as the small heater heats the air, some chemicals hiding away in common household items and furniture can be dissolved and released into the air. Inhaling such chemicals can lead to painful throat and head discomfort.
So your throat and head can become sore from bacteria and dryness in the air if you are not mindful of using your small heaters.
Carbon Monoxide Fumes
Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most dangerous gas substances and it is virtually untraceable. Because it lacks color, taste, or smell, it could be roaming around your home without you knowing it.
The production of carbon monoxide occurs when any appliance or device burns fuel. Gas heaters are one of those home appliances that involve combustion in their workings so it naturally emits a certain amount of carbon monoxide.
Headaches and sore throats are two of the top indicators of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. But as the exposure progresses, CO poisoning can result in loss of consciousness, impaired memory, comatose, organ and system failure, and ultimately death.
How to Make Your Home Sore Throat and Headache-Free
Small heaters such as space, electric, and gas heaters have their own merits for providing supplemental heat service for your home, especially for people who do not have the means for a full-blown central heating system.
But as discussed above, you have good reasons to be cautious before taking advantage of the services of portable or small heaters.
Here are some steps you can take to stop these small heaters from giving you sore throats or headaches:
- Don’t overuse the space heaters.
- Match the size of the heater to the room in which it will be used.
- Stay hydrated by drinking 2 to 3 liters per day.
- Strictly follow the manual for proper system usage.
- Keep the heater away from flammable materials.
- Make the space heaters inaccessible to children and pets.
- Inspect your small heaters regularly and call a professional for repair and services to keep using them safely.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors, especially in rooms where gas heaters are used.