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Air Conditioning: Can It Trigger Sore Throats?

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It’s not uncommon to develop a sore, irritated throat during the summer months when air conditioning use is at its peak, leading many people to wonder – can air conditioning give you a sore throat? But why does air conditioning cause sore throats for some people? Here, we’ll explore the reasons behind this seasonal nuisance and provide tips for prevention for those wondering can air conditioning can give you a sore throat.

Why Air Conditioning Causes Sore Throats

Air conditioners can contribute to sore throats in a few key ways related to indoor air quality and conditioned environments:

Extreme Dryness

Air conditioning units remove moisture from the air, which is why indoor humidity levels drop drastically when the AC blasts dry air. This lack of moisture can dry out and irritate the mucous membranes lining the throat, causing soreness, coughing, and discomfort when swallowing or speaking.

Cold Air Exposure

AC systems also cool down indoor air temperatures. While a cold blast of fresh air can feel refreshing at first, prolonged exposure to cold air can irritate the throat and restrict blood flow to the delicate tissues in the throat. An AC unit’s cooling capacity is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). A higher BTU rating indicates an AC unit that can remove more heat from indoor air.

Mold and Bacteria Exposure

The damp, dark HVAC system inside air ducts, vents, and AC units themselves provides ideal conditions for mold, fungi, and bacteria to grow with poor air circulation. As contaminated air circulates through the AC system, people breathe in these germs and irritants, which can cause a scratchy, inflamed sensation in the sore throat.

Common Throat Symptoms from Air Conditioning

When an air conditioning system triggers throat discomfort, people often experience:

  • A persistent sore, dry, or scratchy feeling
  • Coughing or throat-clearing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Discomfort swallowing food or liquids

In more serious cases, constant mucus drainage, throat pain that won’t go away, or trouble breathing can occur.

Preventing Air Conditioner Sore Throats

While throat irritation from air conditioning systems may be common, there are ways you can help mitigate risks:

Use a Humidifier

Running an indoor humidifier, especially in bedrooms, can counteract the moisture-stripping effects of the AC unit. Combining a humidifier with AC keeps indoor humidity around a throat-healthy 30-50%.

Change AC Filters Regularly

Replacing clogged, moldy air conditioning filters allows for better airflow and reduces nasty pollutants circulating indoors. Every 2-3 months is ideal for replacing filters in summer when AC use is heavy.

Adjust the Thermostat

Don’t freeze your home! HVAC experts typically recommend keeping household air conditioning set between 72-79°F for optimal comfort and health. Temperatures lower than 72°F tend to be too chilly for prolonged exposure and can irritate throats. Maintaining a thermostat reading in this ideal 72-79° range will help prevent sore throat issues related to excessively cold air while still allowing your AC system to cool your home effectively.

Consider Air Purifiers and Vent Cleaning

Removing mold, dander, bacteria, and chemicals through duct cleaning and purifying indoor air can also lessen throat irritation. As part of your regular ac maintenance, be sure to replace air filters and keep your ceiling fans dust-free.

When to Call the Doctor About a Sore Throat

While AC-related sore throats tend to be temporary and harmless, it’s smart to seek medical care if you experience:

  • Throat pain lasting over one week
  • Inability to eat/drink due to throat pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A fever over 101°F

These may indicate an underlying illness beyond basic seasonal irritation.

At the first sign of any sore throat symptoms, it’s wise to turn off the air conditioning and use alternative means of cooling, like fans or open windows on mild days. This can allow your throat time to recover.

Key Takeaways: AC Units Can Inflame Throats

Air conditioning systems provide refrigerated relief from hot weather, but this cool comfort can come with a cost for sensitive individuals. Key factors like moisture removal, airborne irritants, and cold temps contribute to sore, scratchy throats in some people each summer when AC use spikes.

Paying attention to indoor humidity levels, changing AC filters routinely, and cleaning AC ducts can help lessen the risks of summertime throat woes. But if pain or difficulty swallowing develops and persists beyond one week, connecting with your healthcare provider is advised.

The Logan Difference

Family-owned since 1969, Logan A/C & Heat sets us apart through our exceptional customer service.

We pride ourselves on communication and transparency throughout the process, ensuring no surprises with timelines or costs. Our installers follow a comprehensive quality checklist overseen by experienced managers before completing any job.

We take the time to educate customers on using their new HVAC systems properly and troubleshoot questions. We also guide customers through warranty coverage for continued peace of mind. Our customers are like family to us. By putting your needs first, we earn the honor of your trust and referral. That hands-on care is the Logan Difference.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do I get a sore throat when I first turn on the AC?

When you first switch your air conditioner on for the season, the cold, dry air can irritate your throat if you aren’t used to it. This temporary sore throat from suddenly cooling and dehumidifying indoor air should improve over a few days as your respiratory system acclimates. Drink plenty of water and use a humidifier to ease the transition.

Can allergies cause a sore throat with air conditioning?

Yes, indoor allergies from dust, mold, pet dander, or other particles made airborne through AC vents can definitely cause sore, scratchy throats for allergy sufferers. This is especially true if your AC ducts or filters contain built-up allergens that blast through the system. Consider having a professional deep clean your ducts and vents, as well as change filters routinely.

Why do I wake up with a sore throat when I sleep with AC on?

Cool, dry air from air conditioning blowing on your throat all night can dry out those sensitive membranes, allowing soreness to develop while you sleep. Be sure to keep bedroom humidity around 40-50% to prevent your throat from drying out. This may require using a humidifier. Also, avoid directing AC vents right at your bed or head, which exacerbates the throat irritation.

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