How Long Does Air Conditioning Sickness Last? 1 Natural Way To Recover

Air Conditioning, Indoor Air Quality

Air conditioning is a convenient way to regulate indoor temperature and humidity levels in your home. However, some people experience discomfort or sickness after prolonged exposure to air conditioning systems. 

This condition is often referred to as “air conditioning sickness,” “sick building syndrome,” or “air conditioner lung”. It can cause headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and respiratory problems. 

We will answer your questions about how air conditioners impact your health, how to detect early if you are suffering from air conditioning sickness, how long does air conditioning sickness last, and what you can do to alleviate symptoms.

DP how long does air conditioning sickness last

How Long Will It Take to Recover From Air Conditioning Sickness?

Air conditioner sickness that affects the respiratory system may last up to 12 hours to a few days. But its duration per individual can vary depending on individual health, length of exposure, and indoor air quality. 

AC sickness is an actual condition that can cause discomfort and illness in some people.  It may manifest as coughing, shortness of breath, migraines, weakness, and other flu-like symptoms.

Exposure to cold air for a significant period at an exceedingly low temperature can already lead to health risks. But if the air in your home is stagnant like in an air-conditioned room, the lack of adequate ventilation will cause dizziness, difficulty breathing, mucus production in the lung, and nausea. The growth of allergens in an unmaintained filter can make matters even worse as it triggers asthma and various forms of allergies.

The most natural way to recover from air conditioning sickness is to get fresh air either by increasing home ventilation or stepping out for a bit for natural flowing air. It is also most helpful to regularly change filters and preserve the efficacy of your cooling unit with annual maintenance and service to keep the indoor air quality in your home at a healthy level.

Can Air Conditioners and Air Quality Make You Sick?

The air conditioner is an important part of the legendary HVAC systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, for those who have been living under a rock). Their job is to regulate and transport heated and cooled air throughout homes, offices, and commercial buildings.

Because AC is a critical component of this group that is responsible for managing and moving air in your spaces, the air conditioner directly impacts the quality of your breathing air.

A residential or commercial building with “good” indoor air quality can be defined as a space with “low toxins, contaminants, odors” and other pollutants, and “well-ventilated” with outdoor or fresh air.

Regrettably, despite being claimed as having the cleanest and safest air, America still has some hefty job to do in terms of improving air quality. In 2019, the American Lung Association reported that 4 out of 10 residents live in counties with unhealthy air. On a separate record by the World Health Organization, a staggering number of 3.8 million people prematurely die because of polluted air indoors.

Truly, sickness caused by the poor indoor air quality affected by air conditioning systems is a serious matter. But what exactly does air conditioning sickness look like? Above all, how do you manage its symptoms and hopefully avoid falling ill with it?

What is Air Conditioning Sickness?

As we bid farewell to February and say hello to longer hours of sunshine in the coming months, we anticipate using our air conditioning at home a lot more often. However, it slightly dampens your excitement knowing that your air conditioner can make you sick.

How would you know if your air conditioner is causing you all these seemingly unrelated physical signs of being unwell?

  • Dehydration. To effectively cool the room, the AC will simultaneously remove the humidity that prevents sweat from dissipating quickly. But if used improperly, the air conditioner can deplete the moisture from the environment so much that your eyes, skin, lips, and throat will begin to dry out. This will lead to itchy, red, and irritated eyes, cracked lips, dry and scaling skin, and sore throat.   
  • Congestion. Experiments show that people who work in air-conditioned buildings have more irritated airways than those who work in open spaces with fresh air ventilation. The reason is that sinuses and nasal passages can become dehydrated after prolonged exposure to air conditioning. When this happens, mucus production increases resulting in a clogged nose.  
  • Headaches. Remember when you used to get brain freeze after gulping a very cold beverage? You can also experience intense head pain when inhaling the cold breeze manufactured by your AC. Dehydration and congestion mentioned earlier can both prompt acute headaches or migraines. 
  • Allergies. Uncleaned filters also become home to airborne toxins such as dust, dirt, mites, dander, bacteria, viruses, and mold. These are classic allergy triggers that cause sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, and inflamed airways. 
  • Asthma. Mold inside the HVAC and in problematic areas in your home can also set off asthma attacks. Additionally, when the indoor environment is too cold, the airway muscles constrict and tighten, making it more difficult for asthmatic patients to breathe.
  • High blood pressure. A study revealed that people who lived in exceptionally cold houses have a higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure than those who live in warmer homes. While this may be impacted by lack of physical activity, tobacco use, obesity, stress, high cholesterol, salty diet, overuse of AC is being pointed as a contributive cause. 

How to Alleviate Symptoms of AC Sickness

Once you are aware that the ailments you are experiencing above are caused by your HVAC systems, you can do something about it to manage and be relieved from their physical stress.

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Moisture in the air is vital in keeping your mucous membranes functional and in good shape. Drink lots of fluids, especially before going to sleep to make up for the water you are not drinking as you snooze for long hours.
  2. Use a humidifier. To keep the humidity at a proper level, employ a humidifier to add the needed moisture to the air. Keep it in rooms of family members with special needs such as children, elderly, and asthmatic patients. Make sure not to overuse the humidifier as it can also make breathing difficult when the air is too laden with water vapor. 
  3. Get some fresh air. This may be the most natural way to alleviate air conditioning sickness. Let some outside air in by opening your doors and windows from time to time when it is appropriate. If the heat is not too harsh, increase your AC temperature to some 2 to 3 degrees higher and let your body temperature adapt.

How to Prevent Air Conditioning Sickness

Air conditioner sickness may last up to 12 hours to a few days. But some factors such as individual health, length of exposure, and indoor air quality can also affect the duration of the symptoms.

We believe that prevention is always better than cure so here are some of the bigger steps in avoiding getting sick because of your air conditioner.

  1. Regularly clean and maintain your air conditioner. Routine maintenance by a qualified professional may seem like a lot to keep up yearly but it is worth every penny. Your trusted HVAC technician will make sure that your AC is free from dirt and dust buildup and that your cooling system is in tip-top shape to save you during the hottest of summers. 
  2. Install a whole-house humidifier. Rather than having to manage the humidity level in each room, it is wiser to utilize a whole-house humidifier so you can control the level of moisture in your entire home.
  3. Install a Fresh Air Ventilation System with your HVAC systems. While opening the doors and windows may cost nothing, there is still that risk of letting in outdoor pollutants. A fresh air ventilation system can help remove air pollutants and allergens, reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, lower humidity, and prevent mold growth the natural way.

By taking these steps above, you can minimize the impact of air conditioning sickness and enjoy the benefits of regulated indoor temperatures and humidity levels. Of course, if symptoms persist, seeking medical attention is recommended.

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