5 ways your air-conditioner could be messing with your health

Undoubtedly, having air conditioning during the intense summer months when temperatures soar is a wonderful convenience.

A few minutes (or hours) spent running the air conditioner can provide a great deal of relief from some of the hottest summer days. Even while we genuinely adore our air conditioners, there are certain situations in which they may be causing illness.

To be clear, your air conditioner is probably doing more good than harm. During the sweltering summer months, lower temperatures help us sleep, and for those of us who suffer from allergies or asthma, an air conditioner can help filter out some of those bothersome particles. However, maintaining it artificially cool can have negative effects on your health, as numerous recent publications have highlighted. These effects can range from a fan’s ability to dry the air to the potential for mildew and dust to spread. Make sure you’re keeping your air conditioner spotless since, as Mic noted, “poorly maintained units with dirt or grime could cause infection or illnesses,” for instance. Here are several possible reasons why you can feel sick from your AC, as well as how to deal with them.

  1. You’ve got grimy filters

Because air conditioners circulate old air without pulling any fresh air into the mix, keeping those filters clean is super key to avoiding illness. According to the Huffington Post, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that dust, mold, animal dander, and viruses can all get circulated via your AC, so making sure your unit is cleaned and those filters are switched out every few months — or at least every season — is important, in addition to keeping the unit itself free of dust or grime.

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5 ways your air-conditioner could be messing with your health

The Huffington Post also suggests that according to a study published in a 2004 International Journal of Epidemiology, air conditioning may lead to health problems in some people. While the study’s authors note that the research is not entirely conclusive, there is evidence that keeping your AC unit free of dirt and molds, and also keeping the temp up a bit warmer than you’d think, can help keep the air clean and your body temperature regulated — so you can avoid the AC-induced respiratory issues, fatigue, and headaches that some folks experience.

3Your nasal passages get too dry

According to sinus expert Dr. Garrett Bennett, dried out sinuses from blasting the AC can lead to an aggravation of respiratory issues like sinus infections, bronchitis, and nosebleeds. If you notice that your skin is drying out, and your nasal passages and sinuses are irritated, you might need to shut off the AC for a bit. You can also invest in a simple room humidifier to help balance the air moisture out.

If you keep your AC on blast to the point that your apartment is a frozen tundra from June to August, you may be messing with your body’s ability to handle high temps — making the hot weather even less bearable over time. According to New York Magazine, our over-reliance on air conditioners may mean we tolerate the hot weather less over time, since we don’t have to acclimate to it. So it’s not a bad idea to shut off the AC from time to time, save a bit of energy, and give your body temperature a chance to regulate itself a bit.

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5You Never Open Your Windows

This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook: Shutting the AC off and opening your windows can help circulate old, stagnant, and bacteria and virus-ridden air out — while letting some much-needed fresh air in. Fresh air, according to the Huffington Post, can help boost your immune system along with other benefits, so it could be worth shutting off that AC for a bit.

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