Your home is at its coldest but your throat seems to be on fire. You recently started having intense sore throats for no apparent reason. It becomes more confusing since you are almost always inside your house and your only regular companion is your air conditioner that keeps you cool and comfortable.
You now wonder, “Can air conditioning give you a sore throat?”
Can Air Conditioning Give You A Sore Throat?
Air conditioning cannot give you pharyngitis or a sore throat by itself, but it can trigger throat pain in your family because of extremely low humidity in your living space. An air conditioner is designed to remove excess humidity in an enclosed area, but excessive use of air conditioning can draw out significant amounts of moisture in the air, leaving you perilously dehydrated. This could lead to various health issues including but not limited to a dry, scratchy, and irritated throat.
Another way your air conditioner can cause a sore throat is if there are dirt and mold buildup in the filters left unchecked and neglected. These airborne allergens may recirculate in your breathing space and trigger allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems. An allergy may sometimes manifest through a scratchy throat.
Pharyngitis may be a simple ailment to some, but it can still be very infuriating. Especially if you plan to relax and snug in your air-conditioned home only to be disrupted by a pesky sore throat.
Let’s get to the root of the problem and discuss how an air conditioner, even with our best interests at heart, has the potential to trigger a sore throat. We will also explore how regular maintenance and service of air conditioners will not only reduce the risk of sore throats but also prevent you from having expensive repair costs in the future.
Don’t Let The AC Add Injury to the Pain
Again, although in itself air conditioning cannot induce sore throats, improper installation and use and lack of adequate services and maintenance of it may contribute to the likelihood of getting a sore throat. Here are some ways your AC may add injury to the pain and the remedies for them.
Substandard Installation vs. Quality Contractor and Service
If you made the mistake of going for the services of a budget contractor who haphazardly performs the air conditioning installation, he likely did not consider the size of your space to how big your cooling system is. He probably did not take the air circulation into account which can cause some areas to be more humid than the rest of the house. These areas can be a breeding ground for infection and a sore throat may be the least of your problems.
Fix: If you are in the position to have a brand-new installation with a quality contractor, look for an expert who will pay attention to airflow and proper sizing of the unit before they install it. You may not enjoy spending a fortune for reinstallation but the long-term benefits of quality installation are worth considering. You can also consent to use a dehumidifier as a solution that costs less. A professional would also stress the importance of annual maintenance and routine cleaning.
Inadequate Air Conditioner Maintenance vs. Clean Air Filter
An AC filter may be a champion when it comes to filtrating indoor allergy triggers such as pollen, pet dander, and other fine particles. But it can turn against you anytime if you neglect to clean or replace it before the buildup of these particles gets blown back into your breathing space. As mentioned earlier, allergies can make you more open to an irritated throat if you neglect regular maintenance and cleaning of your filter.
Fix. To improve your home’s indoor air quality, Clean a washable air filter at least once a month or replace them if necessary. It will also not hurt if an HVAC expert will service your system from time to time. Air conditioning maintenance will save you some repair troubles in the long run and will help to tune up your air conditioner and maintain its efficiency.
Excessive use vs. Steam inhalation
Running your air conditioner nonstop will not just cost you in an obvious way. You may not mind paying sky-high electricity bills but your family’s health may suffer from dehydration and other resulting illnesses such as sore throats, chronic headaches, fatigue, and intolerance to heat.
Fix. Stay hydrated by drinking a sufficient amount of water each day. For men, it is 3.7 liters while about 2.7 liters is required for women. Steam inhalation or steam therapy is another great way to ease the mucus in the nasal passages, throat, and lungs.
The Dangers of Extremes: High Humidity and Dry Air
The major benefit the air conditioning system brought to our lives is the convenience of having a chilled indoor temperature despite the scorching summer heat outdoors. But another great advantage of having a fully functioning AC is having control of the humidity inside our living spaces.
A high level of humidity can make us feel extremely sweaty, uncomfortable, and irritated. Besides affecting our moods and causing unnecessary stress and anxiety, a damp environment has a damaging impact on our bodies.
Too much moisture in the air inevitably leads to the number of dust mite and mold colonies growing, as these type of fungus survives and even thrives in damp places. It is scientifically proven that mold and mildew are the leading sources of indoor allergies. In worst cases, molds trigger early-onset asthma in children and other respiratory problems.
So we are under the mercy of our dependable air conditioner which keeps us dry and cool, just the way everyone always wanted. Some even tried to stay 24/7 in the comfort of their air-conditioned home throughout the hot climate.
But the overuse of this HVAC system, whether for cooling or heating, comes with a high price. We are not just talking about the soaring electricity bills that you would have to face at the end of each month.
Dehydration: Major Source of Sore Throat
Continuous, uninterrupted use of air conditioning can cause the extermination of all the moisture from the air. If too much humidity is bad for our health, zero or very low humidity is equally dangerous to our well-being.
Since humans are made up of 70% water, it is discernible why we need to keep it moisturized all the time. A regular adult may lose an average of 2 liters of water each day through urination, evaporation of water through the skin, and respiration.
You may reason, "How can I be losing water when I'm not even perspiring?" Although sweating is an obvious way we can expel water, "when relative humidity levels are extremely low, the rate of water loss from skin and respiration can increase," AchooAllergy.com explains.
“The less humidity that is in the air you breathe, the more moisture your body will attempt to put back into it,” says the aforementioned site that focuses on causes and cures for allergies.
This means that we can be extremely dehydrated even when there is no furnace or other heating device turned on or if we are sitting in a space with air-conditioned air. In fact, according to More MD, a website dedicated to family medicine and primary care mentions that "cold air is drier than warm air."
Dehydration from excessive use of air conditioning cannot be felt right away but it manifests in two distinct ways: dried-out skin and parched respiratory organs such as nasal passages and throat. This cold but dry air is the leading environmental factor that causes pharyngitis.
A sore throat is a legit medical condition that causes you pain, scratchiness, or irritation especially when you swallow or talk. It is triggered when more moisture is extracted from the mucus membranes to moisten the dry air, but the membranes dry out faster than our anatomy can replace the moisture.
However, you also notice that some members of the family frequently suffer from an irritated throat, while others seem fine about the humidity level. Why is that?
Easy Targets for Sore Throats
The Mayo Clinic revealed that although sore throat is a common ailment, certain risk factors make a person more susceptible to having sore throats:
Children and teens within the age bracket of 3 to 15 years old are more prone to contracting sore throats. Viral and bacterial infections are the most common causes for children but another medical source reasoned that kids tend to have larger tonsils than adults which can contribute to their susceptibility. Health experts suggest keeping children hydrated all the time to abate the problem.
Exposure to Tobacco Smoke
Substances from smoking tobacco can irritate the throat. But other nonsmokers in the house may also suffer from secondhand smoking, especially when the smoke or smell is not properly expelled but instead recirculated in your breathing space.
The likelihood of getting a sore throat is intensified by allergy attacks. Healthline supports this statement when it discussed how sore throats and allergies are closely linked. When airborne particles trigger an allergy, our nose and sinuses become congested, and the mucus drains down our throats as the so-called postnasal drip. This results in a sore, scratchy throat, and a cough that makes the throat suffer even more.
Chemical Irritants in the Air
Common household chemicals are deemed to be causing sore throat, too. If particles such as burning fossil fuels and other harsh substances get mixed with the air and recirculated by your AC system, some more sensitive throats can become irritated.
If your place is cramped and yet it holds a big number of people, the tendency is for viral or bacterial infections to spread easily with the side effect of a scratchy, irritated throat.
People with long-term illnesses such as HIV, diabetes, treatment with steroids or chemotherapy drugs, stress, fatigue, and poor diet have a weaker immune system and are therefore more prone to sore throats.