Of course, scorching heat of summers and high degree of humidex makes it a compulsion to go for air conditioning all day long. Yet, certain researches believes that air conditioning may not be the best choice to beat the heat. The ill-effects may amount to dryness of skin, fatigue, contracting air-borne diseases, dryness in throat, etc.
Dr. Mark Mendell, Epidemiologist with California Department of Public health, suggested that asthma and allergies are the most common disorders due to use of air conditioning. He further suggests, that a poorly maintained or shoddily designed air conditioner can have millions of bacteria breeding in it. It reflects that polluted air of the AC’s may significantly affect your health. Though, the impact may vary depending on how your body would react to each class of bacteria.
However, there is a contrasting observation by Dr. Michelle Bell, Prof. environmental health at Yale University, that a well-maintained AC can indeed save your life from contracting many dreadful diseases. Dr. Bell suggests that air borne pollutants are kept at bay through use of air conditioners and thus one is at lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Despite a dilemma of whether air-conditioning is good or bad, there is a lot that is yet to be explored. But, certainly there are prominent health hazards that are known to have been caused due to air-conditioning.
- Fatigue: Imagine yourself shivering on your chair while sitting in office through the day! Won’t it impact your body, which has to work hard to maintain the normal body temperature? A lot of people also experience chronic headache sometimes due to over exposure to cold air.
- Skin Dryness: The worst side-effect of air conditioning is the dry cool air that is pumped out. The dry air hits our mucus membrane making our throat and nose dry. You may feel constant irritability in nose and throat due to dry mucus lining and it increases the probability of contracting flu and other respiratory diseases. Also, you would feel your skin and hair dry.
- Heat Intolerance: With the comfort of cold controlled indoors, you increasingly tend to become intolerant towards harsh outdoor heat. Your body fails to accommodate the wide fluctuating temperature variation between indoor and outdoor. This substantiates the increased number of cases reported of heat strokes and dehydration in summers.
- Allergies: Surprisingly, there are both positive and negative aspects reported in the case of allergies. Dr. Clifford Bassett, MD founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma care of New York, suggests that anybody with indoor allergic tendencies may be benefitted with use of A/C. Air conditioning filters out a lot of moulds and pollens from the air thus minimizing the allergic tendencies of a person with indoor allergies.
However, on the other hand, Dr. Ferastraoaru, MD Physician, Allergy and Immunology, Montefiore Health System, suggests that using A/C can sometimes worsen the allergies. This is due to the fact that AC’s may carry the germs from cat, dog and dust which gets regularly circulated through the cold air. So, it is really important to have air-purifiers installed with A/C’s to avoid any allergic episodes happening to you and your family.
- Spreads infection: A/C’s circulate the same air all through the day in a closed room. So, the germs from coughs, sneezes, etc. get mingled with the air and the same air is circulated throughout. This infected air is inhaled by everyone present in that room causing infection to spread further.
There is an air-borne disease called Legionnaire’s that is communicated easily. This disease causes very high grade fever with pneumonia and spreads very fast if you are sharing the air-conditioned room with person infected with it.
- Worsens the prevailing medical conditions: If you are suffering from illnesses like arthritis or any other bone related disorders, exposure to air-conditioned environment may worsen your body pains.
What can you do to overcome the harmful effects of air-conditioning?
Air-conditioners absorb germs from the surroundings which gets circulated in the air , so you need to dust your indoors regularly to keep the germs away. Moreover, using air-purifiers can help you get the best quality of cool air in the longer run. You must also use humidifiers with sensors to maintain moisture levels which will beat dryness of skin.
The best suggestion is to try to avoid using air-conditioner in good weather conditions, if you can. Always carry a preference for breathing fresh air that will give you ample oxygen and will be beneficial for your health. One more tip that needs mentioning here, is to keep yourself hydrated by improving your water intake. In air-conditioned rooms, there is no sweating happening so you would not feel thirsty often. You would have to force yourself to drink enough water to stay hydrated.