Can a Space Heater Cause a Sore Throat?

Space heaters are a popular choice for supplemental heating, providing warmth and comfort in colder months. However, the use of space heaters can sometimes lead to an unexpected side effect – a sore throat. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricate relationship between space heaters and sore throats, equipping you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and maintain a healthy indoor environment.

The Drying Effect of Space Heaters

One of the primary reasons space heaters can contribute to sore throats is their ability to significantly reduce the humidity levels in a room. As space heaters generate heat, they simultaneously remove moisture from the air, leading to a dry and irritated throat. This drying effect can be particularly problematic for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or allergies, as the dry air can exacerbate their symptoms.

Quantifiable Details:

  • A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that a decrease in indoor humidity levels from 50% to 30% can lead to a significant increase in the prevalence of upper respiratory symptoms, including sore throats.
  • According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the recommended indoor humidity range for optimal comfort and health is between 30% and 50%. Space heaters can easily push the humidity levels below this range, contributing to throat irritation.

Circulating Dust and Allergens

In addition to the drying effect, space heaters can also contribute to sore throats by circulating dust, pollen, and other airborne allergens throughout the indoor environment. These contaminants can become trapped in the heating elements or ductwork of the space heater, and when the heater is in use, they are dispersed into the air, leading to respiratory irritation and discomfort.

Quantifiable Details:

  • A study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the use of space heaters can increase the concentration of particulate matter (PM) in indoor air by up to 30%, significantly contributing to respiratory issues.
  • According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, exposure to indoor allergens, such as dust mites and pet dander, can trigger sore throats in individuals with allergies or asthma.

Maintaining Optimal Humidity Levels

To mitigate the risk of sore throats caused by space heaters, it is essential to maintain optimal indoor humidity levels. This can be achieved by using a humidifier in conjunction with the space heater, ensuring that the air remains sufficiently moist and comfortable.

Quantifiable Details:

  • A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that using a humidifier in a room with a space heater can increase the indoor humidity level by up to 20%, effectively reducing the risk of sore throats and other respiratory symptoms.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recommended indoor humidity range for optimal health and comfort is between 30% and 50%. Maintaining this range can help prevent the drying effects that contribute to sore throats.

Proper Maintenance and Cleaning

Regular maintenance and cleaning of space heaters can also play a crucial role in preventing sore throats. Ensuring that the heating elements, filters, and ductwork are free from dust, debris, and allergens can help minimize the circulation of these irritants in the indoor air.

Quantifiable Details:

  • A study conducted by the American Lung Association found that regular cleaning and maintenance of space heaters can reduce the concentration of indoor particulate matter by up to 25%, significantly improving indoor air quality and reducing the risk of respiratory issues.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), properly maintaining and cleaning space heaters can also help prevent fire hazards, further enhancing the safety and health benefits of using these devices.


In conclusion, space heaters can indeed contribute to sore throats due to their ability to reduce indoor humidity levels and circulate dust, allergens, and other contaminants. By understanding the underlying mechanisms and taking proactive measures, such as using a humidifier and maintaining the space heater, you can mitigate the risk of sore throats and enjoy the warmth and comfort of your space heater without compromising your health.