Indoor Air Quality: Air Conditioning Overuse and How They Affect Your Health
Escaping from the heat and humidity of the Texas summer leads to a lengthy cooling cycle in homes and offices. Couple that with driving in an air-conditioned vehicle and it is easy to spend 85 to 90% of the time indoors, enjoying cooler air made possible by an air conditioner.
Since you are planning to be indoors for significant amounts of time during the summer months, perhaps you might wonder whether air conditioning poses any health considerations. While air conditioning is not linked to illnesses, air conditioning can contribute to a few health concerns.
You might exhibit heat intolerance. This is most likely a common experience–that discomfort you feel, walking from a cool space to the heat of the day. When you experience a temperature change as wide as 30 degrees, the discomfort can lead to significant stress on your body, resulting in dizziness, headaches, fatigue, or exhaustion. Age and underlying health conditions might enhance the ill effects. Be careful.
Removing humidity can lead to dryness. Air conditioning removes humidity from the air in the process of cooling the air–you see the results under your car after an air-conditioned journey. Drier air can lead to dry skin. Sometimes the dry skin finds relief as you walk outside, but consider moisturizer or sunscreen with moisturizer.
If you experience dry eyes, you may require artificial tears. Dry ears are susceptible to irritants that can cause cracking and bleeding. Dryness will almost always be felt in your nose and upper respiratory system. Remember, body dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, so always hydrate with lots of water.
Be concerned about indoor air quality. Studies show indoor air maybe 5 to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air. That makes sense because there is more air outside than inside. Once dust, pollen, and contaminants enter the space, the system circulates them until the filtration system removes them.
If your home experiences poor indoor air quality, allergens may increase the occurrence of nasal issues, itchy eyes, headaches, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. If you suffer from summertime allergies, trapped allergens might make symptoms worse. Since a vehicle is a much smaller space, this circulation is much quicker.
Dry mucous membranes are more susceptible to respiratory illnesses. Moist mucous membranes in your respiratory system are part of the body’s immune system; this leaves you more vulnerable to contracting colds, flu’s, and other illnesses.
It also may leave you unexplainable headaches or fatigue. Central air conditioning can also have an impact on chronic illnesses or conditions, including high blood pressure, arthritis, and pain management.
What can you do to protect your family while staying comfortable? A few adjustments will help mitigate some of the concerns of extended air conditioner use.
Be prepared, should dry skin leads to irritated skin; use moisturizer as needed. Over-the-counter artificial tears or nasal moisturizer solutions will also provide relief and boost the immune properties of mucous membranes. Of course, increase your intake of fluids during the summer months to keep hydrated.
Use air conditioning to be comfortable, but don’t create an extreme temperature in your home. Not only does this increase energy bills, but it creates stress on your body when you step into the heat.
On comfortable days, consider turning off the AC and opening the house up to fresh air. Comfortable days might be few, but make use of them and enjoy.
Clean your filters regularly, every 60 days at least or according to your AC manufacturer’s guidelines.
Protect your family and your HVAC system by scheduling an annual preventative maintenance service, keeping your system at peak efficiency, and providing indoor air quality to avoid health concerns.
Have a question about Indoor Air Quality?
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