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インフルエンザ予防に加湿が効果的である理由

医者

インフルエンザの予防は手洗いうがい、マスクと暖かい格好と相場が決まっています。しかしながら、インフルエンザの予防において効果があるのに意外と知られていないのが「部屋の加湿」です。

古くは、インフルエンザは低温高湿を好むと言われておりました。しかし、部屋の湿度が高いことで、インフルエンザウイルスを滞留させ不活性化させることができることも知られています。

また、部屋の湿度が一定以上に保たれることで、喉の粘膜の乾燥を防ぐことができます。

この記事では真冬の乾燥した季節に加湿器をつけることでインフルエンザの予防が期待できるその理由についてご説明いたします。

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インフルエンザと湿度との関係

インフルエンザの女性

真冬の寒い時期、喉もイガイガするぐらいに乾燥した空気は体にとってもあまりいいものではありません。インフルエンザだけではなく、多くの細菌やウイルスは冬季に活動を活発に行います。

インフルエンザも例外ではありません。しかし、ウイルスが冬季に活発に活動するのは、湿度と紫外線量の低下の2つの要因があるのです。ウイルスは生存のために一定の湿度を必要としますが、外気に触れていると15分程度で不活性化していきます。これが日中が短く、紫外線量が少ない冬ではもっと長い時間の生存が可能になるのです。

また、湿度が低い冬期においては、ウイルスが風にのって長距離を移動することができるようになるのです。インフルエンザウイルスは非常に小さなウイルスですので、水の分子によって進路が妨害されてしまうのです。

つまり、冬季には次の「感染先」まで長時間生存できる上、ウイルスが移動しやすい環境が整っているため、次の感染先に移動しやすいといった環境が整っているのです。

インフルエンザウイルスはしかし一定以上の湿度では生きることができず、夏場では紫外線量も多くまったく生きていくことができません。冬の一時期だけ流行するのは、そのような環境上の問題があるのです。

冬場の喉の乾きや粘膜の弱りにも注意

インフルエンザウイルスは非常に多くの種類がいて、人間に感染する種類はそれほど多くはいません。しかしながら、人間に感染するウイルスは突然変異を起こしやすく、一度罹患すると大量にウイルスをばらまく性質があります。

さらに、冬場は気温が低く人間も体力が低下していることが多いうえ、細菌類が喉の粘膜まで達しやすい環境が整っています。普段、喉は水分や湿気によって細菌やウイルスの侵入を防ぐバリヤがはられているのですが、冬場はそれが非常に弱くなってウイルスの侵入を許してしまいやすいのです。

加湿器の利用でインフルエンザウイルスから身を守ろう

こうしたインフルエンザウイルスに対して対抗するためには、加湿器の利用がオススメです。
加湿器には以下のような種類があり、それぞれに特性が異なります。

  • スチーム式加湿器……蒸気によって加湿するタイプです。カビが生えやすいのですが、蒸気にする時に加熱しているため、細菌類の少ない蒸気を発生させます。大量の蒸気を生み出すのは得意ではなく、六畳から十畳程度のものが一般的です。湿度を早くあげます、立ち上がりが遅いのが難点です。
  • 超音波式加湿器……超音波によって蒸気を生み出すタイプです。カビが発生しやすく、こまめなメンテナンスがかかせませんが、蒸気の量の調整が自由にでき、様々な場所で使えるのがよい点です。
  • 空気蒸発式加湿器……熱風を使った空気蒸発式の加湿器です。湯気は出ませんが、自然蒸発を使って加湿します。静音性が高いのが特徴ですが、大容量の蒸気を出すのは難しいので小型のものが使い勝手がよいでしょう。

これらの何れを使ってもよいでしょう。設定は求める湿度よりも高めに設定したほうがよいでしょう。湿度60%程度が理想です。

プラズマクラスターイオンと合わせて使って効果的に

加湿器だけではなく、プラズマクラスターイオン発生器や、空気清浄機などを組み合わせることでインフルエンザウイルスの撃退を可能にします。

とくにシャープが特許を持っているプラズマクラスター25000+という規格のプラズマクラスターイオン発生器ではインフルエンザウイルスの撃退に効果があることが認められています。

プラズマクラスターイオン発生器は様々な機器に搭載されています。小型のものもあるので、空気清浄機と一緒に購入するのもよいでしょう。

プラズマクラスターイオンについては、「旧型では効果なし!?プラズマクラスターでインフルエンザを撃退の真実」にも書きました。こちらもご参照ください。

まとめ:インフルエンザには加湿で対抗しよう

インフルエンザウイルスは加湿だけで撃退できるわけではありませんが、インフルエンザ感染の予防には明確に効果があります。

インフルエンザの感染予防のために加湿を行うだけではなく、プラズマクラスターなどを使うことでより効果的な予防が可能になるでしょう。

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