Air conditioning comes with its own set of risks and disadvantages when it comes to allergies. Although it can help with seasonal allergies or allergies to dust by allowing you to breathe, it can also irritate. Have you ever turned on the air conditioner and you start sneezing or coughing? Chances are you’re allergic to the quality of the air circulating.
For a better understanding, here is a comprehensive guide about the air conditioner allergy symptoms:
1. Can I be allergic to an air conditioner?
No, you cannot be allergic to an air conditioner. All an air conditioner will do is circulate air. If anything, you’re allergic to the quality of the air being circulated. With that said, no one is allergic to an air conditioning unit unless it is circulating air contaminants.
2. What to blame when you start to feel unwell
If you’re getting sick from air circulating in your space, you have to address the root cause. Airborne allergies could be to blame. If there’s a bacteria or virus in the air, a unit like this can unfortunately help spread it around. Biological contamination can also cause allergy-like symptoms, ranging from asthma to hypersensitivity pneumonitis and allergic rhinitis.
3. Symptoms of air contamination
Your air conditioner allergy symptoms may be closely related to the symptoms of air contamination. Take note when you turn on the air conditioning unit if you experience any change in your cognition or with your respiration. In large buildings and condos, toxins from microorganisms can live in the ventilation system.
Symptoms from exposure to these contaminants include sneezing, coughing, tiredness, dizziness, fever, shortness of breath, watery eyes, and even digestive problems.
4. Who’s at risk?
Anyone can experience air conditioner allergy symptoms as well as respiratory symptoms. It’s important to remember this however in particular, older people, children, and individuals with existing respiratory issues are more susceptible to airborne contaminants.
5. Airborne viruses
There are bacteria and viruses that can come in from the outside, either through soil and plant debris or transmitted via the air. Regarding air conditioning units, the sort of bacteria and viruses that go airborne include influenza, measles, chickenpox, legionella, and staphylococcus. Experiencing air conditioner allergy symptoms, for these reasons, mean the problem should be taken care of sooner rather than later.
6. Mold and mildew
Unfortunately, an air conditioning unit can breed mold and mildew. This type of growth occurs in damp settings. If your AC unit has a damp or wet cooling coil, humidifier, or condensate pan, there’s enough evidence here to suggest if there’s a mold or mildew problem. It is imperative to clean up the mold and mildew as soon as possible as it can cause allergies or the spores that come from them can end up causing disease.
7. Dust mites
Dust mites feed on human skin and can in fact breed inside an air conditioning unit. These mites love to reproduce in the warmest, dampest conditions. At 40 to 50 percent relative humidity maintained can decrease the amount of dust mites. This may be something to consider when manipulating the climate conditions inside your home.
8. Pet dander
Pet dander contains proteins and it’s those proteins that people can be allergic to. You may develop the allergy later in life or you may have pet dander in the home you’re not aware of. Particularly if you’re in a rental, if the prior tenants had pets, it is very likely there is pet dander waiting to be kicked up in the air by the air conditioner.
Pollen’s a common allergen. Coming from plants, it’s very common for pollen to come in through open doors or windows, or via the air conditioning. The particles of pollen can stay suspended in the air for possibly hours but can also settle onto surfaces waiting to be kicked up via air conditioning.
10. Non-allergy symptoms
An air conditioner doesn’t always present issues that are respiratory in nature though in 99.9% of cases, this will be the case. Some rare symptoms of reactions to air conditioning include skin irritations. For example, some people develop hives when exposed to cold temperatures.
Meanwhile, there’s other reactions like the swelling of limbs, heart racing, and fainting which happens if a person’s been diagnosed with anaphylaxis. Although these reactions are rare, they’re worth keeping in mind if you see these or have experienced the symptoms yourself.
11. How to treat indoor air quality
There’s a lot you can do to treat your home as well as reduce the likelihood of air conditioning allergy symptoms. Replace the air filters, clean your registers and return vents, clean the ductwork below or above the home, clean any dust and debris. You should keep an eye out for mold and treat it promptly regardless of where it is in the home.
In addition, get an air purifier, find ways to control the home’s humidity, remove any standing water or water-damaged materials, and have the air conditioner professionally cleaned and repaired.
12. You don’t need to replace the unit
At the end of the day, the best way to treat any sort of allergy symptoms is not by replacing the air conditioner. Instead, focus on fixing the environment around it. In all likelihood, it’s airborne contaminants of some variety that are affecting your allergy in this way. If you do not find the cause and/or have concerns pertaining to your health, speak to your doctor right away.