The Hidden Dangers of Air Conditioner Sickness

Have you ever considered that it might be your air conditioner or heater that’s making you feel not-so-hot? Whether you’re battling high temperatures with non-stop air conditioning, or fighting the cold with the heat blasting at you, that just might be the culprit of a recent illness you experienced. In this post, we’re covering what experts know about “air con flu” and other dangers of air conditioning and heating your homes – and what to do about it. 

What is Air Conditioner Sickness? 

In recent years, many people have shared their experience with so-called “air con flu”, an umbrella term that describes an array of flu-like symptoms. Things like sneezing, headaches, fatigue, dry throat, and more have all been attributed to long-term air conditioner use. In fact, many social media users are pointing out instances of “air con cough” and other symptoms they’ve noticed after experiencing hotel AC. And, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, those complaints are far from made up. According to their research, such issues are part of what’s called “Sick Building Syndrome”, where building occupants experience acute health and discomfort appearing to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.

According to an article in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the occupants of office buildings with air conditioning (AC) systems (e.g. central ventilation with cooling or heating of air) consistently report – on average – more symptoms in their buildings than do occupants of buildings with natural ventilation. Though general guidance maintains that “a well-maintained and properly used air conditioning unit itself” is not a direct cause of symptoms, many experts have concerns about the effects that so many people experience. 

Common Culprits in AC-Related Illnesses

Just what is it about air conditioning that can affect our health? 

The truth is that AC units are designed to filter air pollutants and contaminants like dust mites, pollen, or mold spores from the air that we breathe. However, that shield of protection is usually not enough. It can easily become compromised if a unit’s filter or ducts haven’t been replaced or cleaned per the manufacturer’s directions (and we have all been there…). Since many AC units are not cared for optimally, mold, dust, toxins and allergens accumulate in the ducts and spread through the building, exposing occupants to irritants and particles that can make them sick – especially people that are susceptible to breathing issues or mold sensitivities. More severe neglect of the HVAC unit can lead to mucous membrane irritation, breathing difficulties, irritated skin, dizziness, nausea, and even odor sensitivity. Other flu-like symptoms like fatigue and trouble concentrating are also commonly reported. 

Mold spores are the most common culprit in AC-related illnesses. They’re microscopic and naturally occurring in the air, whether indoors or outdoors. They enter easily through open doors or windows and vents, and are often carried on clothing, shoes, or pets. From there, spores can land on damp surfaces in your home, and they can grow and form new mold colonies.

Mold can also grow inside the HVAC unit itself if it’s not properly maintained. While most units are designed to drain condensation, older ones tend to malfunction and require manual cleaning from the owner – which doesn’t always happen. If filters are not replaced regularly, they tend to get clogged with dust and debris, which traps even more moisture inside the AC unit. All of those factors create an ideal environment for mold to grow – and spread to your home and throughout the air you and your family breathe. 

How to Combat AC Illness

One of the first things you can do to reduce air conditioning associated health effects is to follow the air conditioner manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintaining the unit. 

Best practices are to regularly have your air conditioning unit serviced according to the manufacturers’ instructions and to make sure air filters are clean and maintained regularly (normally every one to three months). Also, check your vents regularly and remove any items or debris that may be blocking them, and look for condensation around the unit which could point to a blockage or buildup. 

For a more complete, long-term solution, new technologies exist that go beyond traditional filters without the use of dangerous chemicals. Experts recommend a room purifier with proprietary technology that works much better than filtration, reaching into ducts where traditional air filters can’t. Advanced products like probiotic purifiers can have dramatic effects on air quality – and your wellness. 

Probiotic Purifiers: The Future of Air Quality

Probiotic purifiers release microscopic probiotics into rooms, creating an ecologically balanced and healthy biome. They essentially consume everything from allergens to mold spores to toxic pollutants. They’re so voracious that they outcompete bacteria and other germs for food, greatly reducing their numbers.  The probiotic layer settles on surfaces and objects, even hard-to-reach areas, and provides much broader protection in a room than an air purifier ever could. Importantly, if connected to an HVAC unit, it can cleanse and purify air ducts, a unique benefit unmatched by other home and office purification technologies.

The #1 innovator in the area of probiotic cleansing is betterair. They offer a specialized product that both deep cleans HVAC systems and uses centralized HVACs for efficient dispersion of probiotics across entire large interiors. These sensor-based, programmable operations ensure an accurate, adjustable dispersion and eliminate the need for multiple stand-alone units. These devices are cost efficient and energy-efficiency and can be remote controlled via a convenient app for intuitive monitoring and management. Learn more about betterair’s BA-1200 and BA-1800 Pro units here

We know how important it is to stay cool in the warmer months – but it’s just as important to protect your health by being aware of the quality of the air you’re breathing.  Probiotic Room Purifiers are one of the most innovative and robust solutions for improving the environment you live in, and centralized HVAC solutions can do a lot of the work for you. Take your air quality seriously and consider a room purifier for your healthiest life.