Is Air Conditioning Safe for those with Allergies?

Living with allergies can be more devastating than people think. If you have allergies, you’d do anything to get rid of them. Air conditioning has been touted as an effective way to handle allergens, but some people report their symptoms getting worse around air conditioning. So, is air conditioning safe for those with allergies?

The short answer is “yes”. It’s not the air conditioning that is making you sick. It’s the fact that it’s moving around the pollutants in the air, such as dust and pollen. If you feel ill after putting the air conditioner on then it’s likely that airborne allergens are the issue. Air conditioners can also spread bacteria and that could be making you sick.

Treat The Cause

If your air conditioning is making you sick because of air contamination, then you have to treat the cause and not the symptoms. Here’s what to do;

Replace air filters; If you have air conditioning to help with allergies then you need one that has a HEPA filter. These filters are able to clear out up to 99.9% of particles over a certain size, including particles. When people talk about air conditioning for allergies, they mean HEPA filters.

Clean the vents of your home and unit.

Clean the ductwork above and below the home.

Clear off dust and debris, in particular on and around the AC unit.

Look out for mould and remove it if you see it.

Buy a proper air purifier to work with the AC.

Control the humidity of the home to prevent bacteria from growing.

Remove any standing water or water-damaged materials, and clean wet surfaces to prevent mold, mildew, mites, and bacteria from forming.

Get air conditioning units properly and professionally cleaned and serviced.

Cold Urticaria

While it’s true most issues related to allergies and air conditioners are caused by airborne contaminants, it is possible that the issued could be caused by the cold air from the AC unit.

This condition is called cold urticaria. When skin is exposed to really cold temperatures it causes hives to appear and may cause swelling.

In the most extreme cases, it can cause anaphylaxis, which may cause fainting, swelling, increased heart rate, and shock. It can be a serious issue.

The symptoms of a cold urticaria vary from person to person. Young people are most at-risk of cold urticaria.

It’s recommended that anyone with cold urticaria take care to properly protect their skin. It helps to avoid continued exposure to cold air and water and contact with cold surfaces. If you do have any kind of reaction after being exposed to cold air, even if it is only a minor response, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Summary

While you might feel that you’re allergic to air conditioning, it’s more likely that you’re reacting to the contaminants being moved around by it. If you want an air conditioning unit that keeps those out of the air then invest in a HEPA filter. In some rare cases, it’s possible that you may have cold urticaria and this could be the cause of your symptoms. If you believe you may suffer from cold urticaria then you need to discuss it with your doctor. Avoid setting the AC too low and you should be fine.

Mary Young

Journalist and environmental campaigner who religiously believes in the power of collective people.