There’s no evidence that a well-maintained air conditioning system can cause illness. However, introduce other variables, such as dirty air filters and high levels of moisture and there’s a chance that AC units can expand the reach of viruses and other irritants.

Get the facts on what some call “air conditioning airborne pathogens sickness” and how to avoid problems.

Can My Air Conditioner Make You Sick? 

Cold air from your air conditioning unit isn’t making you sick, per se, but it can increase the risk of illness in three interrelated ways.

  1. Airflow – Using your air conditioning unit circulates air throughout your home, moving dander, dust, mold, bacteria, and viruses. Although it's important to note, consistent AC use doesn’t necessarily increase the likelihood that you will breathe in irritants. If you have the most  basic AC filter, the air coming out of your forced air system should be cleaner than the air that went in.
  2. Mold – Poorly maintained air conditioning systems are perfect environments for mold and bacteria growth, which thrive in dark, moist conditions.
  3. Cold – Cranking the AC reduces indoor humidity levels, leaving your eyes, nose, and throat dried out and itchy. Dry air may negatively impact your immune system. Note: This is only true for a very small portion of the country. In most markets, high humidity is the issue.

Common Air Conditioning Sickness Symptoms 

The signs of air conditioning sickness symptoms vary by person but share some universal traits. Increased irritation and dryness may exacerbate respiratory issues like asthma and allergies. Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice an uptick in respiratory problems that may be caused by AC. You can reduce flare-ups by maintaining exceptional indoor air quality.

Common symptoms associated with sustained air conditioning use include:

  • Dry, itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Dry skin
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headaches

Related: How to Avoid Headaches Related to Air Conditioning

How to Avoid Air Conditioner Sickness 

Homeowners can prevent respiratory problems by addressing the causes of dust and bacteria in the first place.

  • Keep Your AC Tuned-up – Regular AC maintenance reduces the risk of moisture buildup that could lead to mold and bacteria.
  • Change Your Air Filter – Your home’s air filter can drastically lower the number of airborne irritants in your home. Replacing your air filter every 1-3 months is an easy way to improve indoor air quality.
  • Humidity Is Healthy – Keep your home’s humidity levels between 30-50%. According to the EPA, this range prevents bacteria and mold growth. If you spot mold, take action immediately with the help of a mold remediation expert.
  • Tidy up – Regular sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming reduce dust, dander, and pollen levels, lowering the number of irritants your air conditioner could spread.

Keep Your Cool and Your AC Running Smoothly 

Don’t worry. Air conditioning doesn’t make you sick, but poorly maintained systems can expose you and your family to elevated levels of airborne particles.

Protect your health with regular maintenance and make your HVAC system an essential tool in improving indoor air quality. We’re here to help; book your appointment or call (800) 893-3523 today.