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Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?

Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?

Poor air quality is no light matter. Air pollution kills seven million people all over the world every year. That’s more than 19,000 people every day.  When people think about pollution and poor air quality, they think about smog and smoke. But bad air inside your home can contribute to and even cause health problems. Can an air conditioner make you sick? Before you buy a new AC system, you need to answer this question. Here is your guide on air conditioner-related illnesses. 

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Can Air Conditioning Give You a Cold?

Many people wonder, “Is my house making me sick?”, “Can you get sick from being cold?”, Viruses and bacteria can survive in cold air longer than in warm air. Cold air can dehydrate your nostrils, throat, and other parts of your body that fight off infections, increasing your risk of an illness. However, cold weather alone cannot make you sick. 

If you have viruses or particulates in the air, your AC may circulate them, and you can breathe them in. But you will not get sick by turning your AC on. 

How Your AC Can Make You Sick

Your AC can increase your chances of infection in a few ways. You cannot protect yourself perfectly from AC-related illnesses, but you can take several steps to reduce your risk of infection.

1. Poor Ventilation

poor air ventilation

Ventilation moves air within, out of, into, and between rooms. A good ventilation system will remove all particulates, viruses, and bacteria from the air while distributing clean air into each room. 

Your ventilators can get clogged or broken, allowing dangerous items to pass into your AC system. Once they do, you can breathe in those particles and get sick. 

Poor outdoor air quality can result in poor indoor air quality. Your outdoor unit can allow air with smog or pollen into your AC system; if your system has bad ventilation, you can breathe the pollution in. 

A cough releases 3,000 droplets into the air. Just one droplet can cause an infection. If someone is sick in your home, a flawed ventilation system can trap the droplets in the room or even circulate them throughout your home, increasing your risk of infection. 

You can sterilize germs with UV HVAC lights. An HVAC technician can help you set them up on your coils or inside your ducts. 

2. Dirty Air Filters

dirty ac air filter

Filters catch particulates before they can enter your AC system. If they become clogged, air may stop circulating, damaging your equipment. 

If air can circulate, it can take germs on your filters and move them through your home. Pet hair has germs on it, and viruses can live on fur for long periods of time. Air blowing across hair trapped in your filters can carry the germs. 

People with asthma are at high risk of asthma attacks and respiratory problems if they breathe in dirty air. Even if the air doesn’t have germs, tiny hair, and other particulates can spark an asthma attack. 

You need to replace your filters every three months. If you have pets in your home, you may need to replace your air filters every one or two months instead. Even if they seem fine, you should replace them, as they can have bacteria and dirt, leading to breathing problems. 

Are you worried about your AC filters? Schedule air purifier installation services from HD Air today. 

3. Mold

mold on air conditioning air vents

Mold grows in moist, humid, and dark areas. Many AC units and ducts are high in humidity, as they trap moisture in the air and don’t release it. Mold spores can grow inside your ducts, and your system can spread them into the air. They can also grow on your filters or in your vents. 

Breathing in mold can spark an asthma attack. Many people have mold allergies that get worse with high exposure rates. Mold allergies can lead to difficulty breathing, severe coughs, and itchy eyes. In rare cases, mold can spark inflammation in your sinuses, lungs, and throat. 

A dehumidifier can remove moisture in the air that allows mold to spread. If you spot mold, you can remove it from your AC using bleach and water. If you notice significant mold in and around your AC unit, you should call a mold remediation service. Removing numerous mold spores by yourself can create breathing problems and inflammation. Ask remediation specialists to check your whole home, as spores can spread through your walls and floors.

4. Cold Air Blowing Directly on You

cold air blowing directly at a woman from the air conditioning

Though cold air cannot make you sick, it can create hypothermia. If you have a body temperature lower than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, you can experience symptoms like shivering and confusion. Hypothermia can be fatal if left untreated. 

Many people assume that hypothermia occurs in frigid environments. However, you can begin to experience hypothermia when your home’s temperature drops below 65 degrees, especially if you are older. Using your AC to blow cold air directly on your body while you are sleeping can create health problems, even if you are wrapped in a blanket. 

Never use your AC to blow air directly on your body. Do not position your AC unit to be opposite your bed or work area. Place it on an adjoining wall and point the vents away from you, allowing the air to circulate but not throwing cold air on your skin. If you shiver, turn your AC off and wear a jacket. You should install and program a thermostat to run your system at a mild temperature.

People lose heat in water faster than they lose heat in air. After you take a shower or bath, dry yourself off before turning your AC on. Never run your AC in your bathroom while you are showering. 

Sweat can also amplify the effects of cold air. If you are sweating, dry yourself off with a towel and drink water to replenish your lost fluids. 

Air Conditioning Sickness Symptoms

Air conditioning sickness symptoms - coughing man

The most common air conditioning-related sickness symptoms are minor ones. You may experience sneezing, coughing, or a sore throat from air conditioning. These symptoms usually occur due to hair or dust in the air, not viruses or bacteria. 

Colds and cases of flu can cause the above symptoms. You may develop a fever, runny nose, or headache if you have a cold. Cases of the flu can also cause muscle pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms may last for several days, but most people recover by resting and drinking water.

Mild hypothermia can cause exhaustion, drowsiness, shivering, tremors, and mental confusion. As hypothermia gets worse, your breathing and heart rates slow down, and you may start to lose consciousness. 

Do not panic if you develop air conditioning sickness symptoms. Turn off your AC unit and call your doctor to start treatment. Schedule an AC tune-up to avoid indoor air quality problems in the future.

Related: How Air Conditioning Works