Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?
Have you ever begun feeling bad after sitting for a while in an air-conditioned environment, just to have the feeling go away once you get warmer? In Florida, this has happened to everyone, and it may have you wondering if your HVAC unit is the culprit. If you’re asking, “Can air conditioning make you sick?” then we have good news – it can’t.
Illnesses and symptoms of sickness related to air conditioning systems are not actually caused by your AC itself – in fact, it’s a side effect of other problems. With a properly maintained AC and a little knowledge, you can avoid feeling down in the cold air all year long.
Air Conditioning Sickness (and Do You Have It?)
After sitting in the cold air of your home or office, you may be plagued by coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, or even headaches. None of this sounds fun, right? Well, if this feeling goes away after stepping back into the warm Vero Beach sun, then you might be suffering from “Air Conditioning Sickness.“
We’ve talked before about why cold air causes a stuffy nose; Air Conditioning Sickness is very similar. Don’t worry, AC units aren’t making you sick, but the cold temperatures (and other factors) may be causing your environment to make you feel bad temporarily or long-term. Let’s take a look at these symptoms and why they occur.
Side Effects of Keeping Cool with AC Units
Hard-working air conditioning units are awesome – we can’t deny that. In fact, there isn’t actually anything harmful about the cold temperatures caused by the systems in your home or office. There are several symptoms to keep an eye out for, and you may recognize one or more of them in your day-to-day life.
Oh, and guess what? There are some pretty simple solutions to each of these. We’ve gone ahead and listed those out for you, too!
Feel like you have a cold or allergies when you’re sitting under a vent? Coughing, sneezing, runny noses, and sore throats are signs that your unit is pumping allergens through your home. Mold, mildew, pet fur, and pathogens get circulated with a clogged air filter or dirty ducts. Time for a maintenance check!
Dry Skin & Headaches
Your HVAC system is designed to pull moisture out of the air as it cools. Decreased humidity levels can be good in the humid Florida heat, but sometimes the low humidity can be a problem. Dry eyes, irritated skin, increased thirst, and headaches are all signs that you need to stay hydrated and get a humidifier!
High Blood Pressure
Did you know that too-cold temperatures can increase your blood pressure? Well, know you do! The small arteries in the skin constrict to preserve heat in your body when you start to get cold. As crazy as this sounds, it means that your blood pressure can go up if you’re cold for too long!
No one likes feeling tired all the time. And if you spend long hours under an air conditioner, it can make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Why? Your body is burning waaay more energy than it needs to keep you warm! Stiff muscles are also common. Fight the fatigue with some warm, fresh air!
Sick Building Syndrome (& Why Your Cold Office is Making You Sick)
Sometimes, staying for a prolonged period inside a building makes you feel sick. If the symptoms go away or improve after leaving the building, you may be suffering from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). In these cases, there’s no outside or definable illness – instead, the culprit is the building itself.
This sounds weird, but it’s a real thing. Office buildings and other locations suffering from bad ventilation, moldy ducts, and improperly maintained HVAC systems can caused SBS. Even the International Journal of Epidemiology did a study on offices with AC and how it affected the occupants!
Indoor air quality seriously impacts apartments, homes, and offices. Without proper air circulation, maintained ducts, and air filtration, your air conditioning unit may be distributing mold, fungi, and pathogens throughout the building.
Is your air conditioning giving you SBS? No! Proper HVAC maintenance and IAQ solutions could be the simple solution to feeling better every day. If you think you’re suffering from Sick Building Syndrome or Air Conditioning Sickness, it’s time to contact your local HVAC professional for the next step!