Is Your Air Conditioner Making You Sick?

Have you ever experienced “air conditioning sickness?” It’s that cold, stuffy, weak feeling caused by staying indoors with an air conditioner for too long? Air conditioners can truly be a life saver in helping to battle hot homes. In truth, these devices can become necessities for enduring heat and humidity.

Whether you are a daily air conditioner user, or just turn it on from time to time, it is good to be in the know about what your air conditioner may be doing to your health without you even knowing it. Learn more about what causes “air conditioning sickness” and how to avoid it.

What Causes “Air Conditioning Sickness?”

Air conditioners and the cold air they produce are not inherently harmful. In fact, air conditioning is often “prescribed” to those suffering from respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies. Air conditioners do not cause sickness, but they can interact with our environment in ways that make us sick.

Every home has germs in it. As cooling systems move air throughout the home, they also circulate germs. The more your body is exposed to these germs, the higher the chance of becoming sick. Air conditioning sickness starts where air conditioners and bacteria, fungi, mold, and mildew meet. If your home or office is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria growth or in not regularly vacuumed, an air conditioner will only circulate the sickness-inducing allergens that are already present.

An air conditioning unit can also be places for mold and bacteria to proliferate if they are not properly maintained. As air is pulled over the coils in an air conditioner, condensation is produced. This moisture can create an ideal environment for bacteria and mold to grow if not cleaned regularly.

Air conditioners are very helpful for drying out a home, but they are not able to address the root cause of mold and allergens. As these are made airborne, they will cause stuffy noses, sore throats, and in some cases, difficulty breathing.

People who spend a lot of time in air-conditioned environments tend to need a high amount of medical attention for symptoms of a cold. In order to ensure that you are not making weekly trips to the doctor, make sure all aspects of your room, car, and work space are cleaned thoroughly. That includes the carpets, curtains, and anything in your space that might cause dust to accumulate, especially the air conditioner.

Headaches and Fatigue

If you ever walk into your home and get a headache within a few minutes or start to feel really tired, the AC might be the problem. This is known as “sick building syndrome,” and can be caused by homes with central air conditioning. To prevent “sick building syndrome,” you should increase ventilation. Adding ventilation to your existing HVAC system will allow you to introduce fresh, conditioned air into your home.

Remedy: Raise the temperature slightly so that you are not shivering and take regular breaks to step outside for fresh air and for your body temperature to equilibrate.

Sore Throat and Uneasy Breathing

The number one issue with having an air conditioner blast cold air into your home or work space is that they are often not cleaned as thoroughly as they should be. A neglected air conditioner can result in breathing problems, especially when the filters aren’t changed regularly. The dirtier the filter, the higher the risk is for poor air quality in your home. Neglected AC units are a haven for dust and dirt, and when these elements go airborne, they can result in a variety of breathing problems, if you’re susceptible. These systems can be home to black mold, as moisture can build up in the coils and ducts from condensation that forms when the cool air passes through.

Remedy: Make sure your air conditioning systems are cleaned regularly and the filter changed every few months.


Dry Skin and Nasal Passages

The dry environments caused by AC evaporate the moisture found in the nose lining, making it susceptible to infection. Furthermore, long exposure to AC often causes the skin to lose moisture and become unpleasantly dry. The more time you spend in an air-conditioned environment, the dryer your skin may become, as the cold, dry air can cause your skin to lose its moisture. Your hair may suffer such ill effects as well.

Remedy: It is advised not to run your AC at low temperatures, especially if the AC is intended to run for many hours. To control dryness, keep yourself hydrated by drinking lot of water. Also, use moisturizer if your skin is sensitive to losing moisture in an air-conditioned environment.


Weight Gain

When it is hot outside, people tend to turn on their air conditioner and enjoy the air rather than go out and exercise. Air conditioning can help maintain our bodies at a temperature in which we feel comfortable enough to not exercise or move much at all. This then causes us to burn fewer calories than we would usually burn in a natural environment where our bodies have to work to adjust to the temperature. Keep in mind that people also tend to eat more when it is cold which could be the case when the air conditioner is blasting in the house.

Remedy: Keep these risk factors in mind and make it a point to get some exercise every day to manage your weight and to stave off snacking.


Raised Blood Pressure

The temperature in which we live can affect our blood pressure and our overall health. This is directly linked to the small arteries in our skin constricting to avoid loss of body heat. In turn, this creates a resistance of blood flow and heightened blood pressure.

Remedy: Those who deal with hypertension can stop this effect on the blood pressure by avoiding cold temperatures and using air conditioning at a bare minimum.



Final Thoughts

Studies have found that people who spend more time in air-conditioned environments display an increased use of healthcare services. The regular and continuous use of AC is found to be connected with rising number of complaints related to ENT (ears nose and throat) and respiratory problems. Regular maintenance can be very effective against air conditioning sickness.

You can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home cool. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help. If your system needs repair or inspection before summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.