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Can Air Conditioning Make You Sick?

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When you lower the temperature on your thermostat, you expect the air conditioner in your home to improve your comfort by providing crisp, cold air. However, if your family has been experiencing cold-like symptoms recently, you might be wondering if air conditioning can make you sick. Of course, the very last thing you want is for your HVAC system to pose a hazard to the members of your household.

So, is your cooling system actually getting in the way of your comfort? Does air conditioning make you sick? The answer to this question might be more complicated than you think.

Can an Air Conditioner Make You Sick?

The answer to this question is “yes” and “no.” Air conditioning can make you sick, but it’s not the HVAC unit itself that’s creating a problem for you and your family. Instead, you can usually blame a lack of maintenance for this particular issue.

If you neglect your air conditioner’s maintenance needs, various airborne contaminants — including dust, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander — can collect inside your home. This is due in part to a dirty HVAC air filter.

Dirty Air Filters

In most cases, you should replace your HVAC air filter once every 90 days. If you don’t, dirt and debris can clog the filter, making it impossible to filter out harmful airborne pollutants. Too busy to make a trip to the hardware store? Buy air filters online from Lee’s!

As you can imagine, a dirty or clogged air filter can take a serious toll on your home’s indoor air quality (or IAQ). Poor IAQ can lead to various health problems. You can read more about the importance of changing your air filter.

Mold Growth

It’s crucial to keep your home clean — and, of course, this sentiment includes your air conditioner. If you neglect your HVAC system for months on end, it can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. This can be incredibly concerning if you’ve been spending more time indoors than usual, as mold can result in several health issues.

Common Symptoms of Air Conditioning Sickness

If you’ve been feeling sick while spending time inside your home, it’s important to mention that your air conditioner might not be to blame. Although a neglected HVAC system can lead to worsening allergy or asthma symptoms, there could be other causes for your sickness, such as the common cold.

If you think the air conditioner is behind your ailment, the first course of action is to have a comprehensive understanding of the symptoms you’re experiencing. Below, we’ll go over some of the most common symptoms of air conditioning sickness.


When discussing how air conditioning can make you sick, it’s impossible not to mention headaches and fatigue. These particular symptoms can have many causes, including a dry indoor environment, too much cool air, and exposure to harmful airborne contaminants.

Headaches are often associated with “sick building syndrome.” As the phrase suggests, “sick building syndrome” is when the occupants of a building only feel sick when inside the same building. These symptoms will usually subside when the occupants leave the building.

Stuffy Nose

A stuffy nose is also one of the most common symptoms of air conditioning sickness. Many airborne pollutants, such as mold spores and pet dander, can worsen allergies and asthma. One of the most common upper respiratory problems is a stuffy nose.

Sore Throat

As you likely know, sore throats are an uncomfortable and unpleasant problem to deal with. Unfortunately, poorly-maintained air conditioning systems could be behind this symptom as well.

You could also experience a cough from air conditioning units if you have allergies or asthma and have dry indoor air. If you think the air conditioner is making your air dry, you might want to consider opening a window from time to time or investing in a humidifier. Dry air can lead to several other issues, such as dry skin, dehydration, and nosebleeds.

Eye Irritation

If you enjoy setting your thermostat to extremely cold temperatures, it’s important to note that a chilly indoor space can have several drawbacks — including eye irritation.

When you set your indoor room temperature to a low setting, you run the risk of creating dry air. As previously mentioned, dry air can lead to various types of irritation that can get in the way of your comfort and health, especially when it comes to your nose and throat.

Trouble Breathing

Although we’ve discussed how air conditioning can make you sick in detail above, one of the most severe respiratory issues that stands out from the rest is breathing issues. It’s possible that your HVAC system’s air filter has become clogged or dirty and can no longer perform its job correctly. If this is the case, you’ll want to replace the air filter as soon as possible or schedule maintenance with a professional technician.

The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

Although overlooking maintenance for your air conditioning unit can have negative consequences for your health, there are other reasons to schedule these services on a regular basis. For instance, annual maintenance can help improve your household’s overall comfort, prevent a breakdown or repair, and waste less energy.

Schedule Air Conditioner Maintenance Today

Now that you’re familiar with the symptoms of air conditioning sickness, it’s time to take your health back into your own hands. Lee’s Air, Plumbing & Heating offers air conditioning maintenance to ensure that your family is comfortable, safe, and happy no matter what the weather brings. We also offer air filters in Loomis, CA, and the surrounding areas to prevent airborne pollutants from wreaking havoc on your home.

Our experts have assisted Californians with their heating and cooling needs since 1981. We make it easy to achieve fresh air and a worry-free home. If you need help with your air conditioner maintenance or air quality in Clovis, CA, or beyond, get in touch with us today!

Thomas Howard

Written by Thomas Howard

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