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Is Your Air Conditioning Making You Sick?



Have you ever spent too long indoors and been left with flu-like symptoms? If so, you might be experiencing air conditioning sickness. Professional air conditioner services are often called out to investigate the health problems that can come with air conditioning. While your air conditioner isn’t directly causing your “sickness,” it can play a role in spreading bacteria, viruses and allergens that have an adverse effect on your health.

What is Air Conditioning Sickness?

Air conditioning sickness is a set of flu-like symptoms that some people experience when they spend time in air conditioned spaces. Most cases of air conditioning sickness are mild and the symptoms clear up when you spend time outdoors and away from the source of the irritation. Air conditioning sickness is relatively uncommon, but it can be a major sign that there are problems with the air quality in your home.

Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?

Yes, air conditioning can make you sick in some cases. While the symptoms of air conditioning sickness are often mild, the condition is very real. The good news is that your symptoms aren’t being directly caused by your air conditioner. Instead, the sickness is caused by low air quality.

Air conditioners don’t introduce any new air into a room. Instead, they circulate and cool air that’s already in the room. This causes two problems. First, if the air is full of dust, dirt, pet dander or other pollutants, you may experience the flu-like symptoms of air conditioning sickness. Secondly, while the air in the room may be clean, air conditioners can become clogged with dust or mould growth that may cause irritation. In either case you’re likely to notice symptoms when running your air conditioner or when you spend extended periods of time indoors.

The Signs and Symptoms of Air Conditioning Sickness

Fortunately, most cases of air conditioning sickness are mild. The severity of your symptoms will vary depending on the types of pollutants in the air and whether you have any allergies or conditions like asthma. Most people experience flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing or tightness in the chest
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Sore throat

Keep an eye out for when and where your symptoms occur. Most cases of air conditioning sickness will clear up rapidly when you’re away from the affected rooms. If you notice a pattern of symptoms then it’s time to book an air conditioning maintenance appointment.

How to Prevent Air Conditioning Sickness

Air conditioning sickness is mostly caused by low air quality. Professional air conditioner services claim that most cases are the result of dust, dirt, pet dander, mould growth or bacteria in the air. If you’re struggling with air conditioning sickness then you’ll need to check your home for signs of mould growth. If there are no problems, you can manage your air conditioning sickness by:

  • Deep cleaning your home. Poor air quality is the true cause of air conditioning sickness. You’ll need to keep your home clean to prevent dust and other particles from circulating around the room. Regularly mopping, dusting and vacuuming will greatly reduce the number of germs and irritants in the air.
  • Keeping humidity levels under control. The humidity in your home plays a big role in some types of sickness. Low humidity environments often cause skin to dry out and become irritated. Air conditioners can make this worse by dispersing dust and allergens that cause itchiness, rashes and other irritation.

Similarly, high humidity environments are perfect for growing mould and bacteria. Mould, mildew, bacteria and other microorganisms are a major contributor to air conditioning sickness, so it’s important to manage their growth. Try to keep the humidity in your home at a balanced level to prevent these issues.

  • Servicing your air conditioner. Maintenance is especially important for air conditioners because they’re actively filtering the air that passes through the system. An air conditioner’s filters will do a great job of removing dust, viruses and bacteria from the air, but that means they need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. Your air conditioning technician will take care of all cleaning tasks as part of your regular maintenance plan. They’ll be able to remove and clean the filter, and they’ll also be able to identify whether your air conditioner is the cause of your sickness.
  • Setting the temperature to 24C. If your home and your air conditioner are clean then your symptoms may also be caused by setting your thermostat too low. Setting your air conditioner to 24C will save money on your power bills, and it can be a simple way to clear up symptoms such as sore joints or irritated skin.

I'm Nikos Alepidis, blogger at motivirus. I'm passioned for all things related to motivation & personal development. My goal is to help and inspire people to become better.

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