How your air conditioner could be making you sick

How your air conditioner could be making you sick

With temperatures on the rise this week, air conditioning is one of the best ways to stay comfortable inside. While, air conditioning may feel great when you can no longer take the heat, it actually might worsen your allergy symptoms.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), dirty air filters may be to blame. Studies show that indoor air pollution caused by a dirty air filter can trigger allergic reactions and sinus congestion in those with allergies to animals, pollen and mold. An air filter can collect and harbor these allergens and allow them to circulate through homes when air conditioning is in use.

“Sometimes, sinus congestion like this is a reaction to allergens that were outside and are now being circulated through the air conditioner and into the home,” says Dr. Jenna Podjasek, an allergist with Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “In this case, people should treat their allergies like they normally do. If symptoms seem worse indoors, it may be worth checking in with your doctor to rule out additional environmental allergies, like dust mites.”

The ACAAI recommends that those affected should frequently check their air filters and, if the filter is disposable, replace them every three months.

The simple change in air temperature may also trigger sinus congestion and other allergic reactions. To reduce these reactions the ACAAI suggests taking these steps:

  • Keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent
  • Avoid humidifiers and vaporizers
  • Vacuum regularly and with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter
  • Avoid smoking indoors
  • During pollen season, remove shoes and extra articles of clothing before walking through your home
  • Groom your pets outside and wash their bedding regularly
  • Clean bathrooms, basements and other tiled areas to reduce the risk of mold

If you are experiencing any reactions to your air conditioning or air quality in your home, consult your primary care doctor for more information.

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3 Comments

  1. I was not aware about the humidity figure. Thank you for the information. I will follow the advice.

  2. Thank you for the information . good to know

  3. During the hot season, some people use air conditioner Minus degree, and it creates health problems.

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About the Author

Chloe Kasper
Chloe Kasper

Chloe Kasper is the Public Affairs & Marketing intern at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest. She is a senior at Illinois State University majoring in public relations. At school Chloe spends a majority of her free time as a member of Illinois State University’s Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Off campus Chloe enjoys practicing yoga, singing and spending time with her family, friends and boyfriend. After graduation she hopes to pursue a public relations career in a nonprofit environment.

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