Air conditioners are indeed our saviour in the months where there is absolutely no respite from the heat. Now, air conditioners aren’t the innocent lambs you think they are! There are many side effects of air conditioners on health as well as on the environment. Most of the side effects are because people don’t know how to use or maintain them in the first place. So what are the side effects? Let’s discuss them.
Five Side Effects of Air Conditioners on Health:
According to Global News, these are the top five side effects of air conditioners on the human body:
- Constant Fatigue
Research shows that people who work in air-conditioned environments may experience chronic headaches and fatigue which leaves them vulnerable to contracting cold, flu and other illnesses.
- Dry Skin
Air conditioner sucks out moisture from the surrounding including the skin if you are spending long hours in an air-conditioned environment. If you are not pampering your skin with the right moisturisers, your skin will soon start feeling dry.
- Exacerbates Effects of Chronic Illness
ACs are known for increasing the symptoms of low blood pressure, arthritis, and neuritis. So if you are already suffering from illness, an air-conditioned environment will only enhance it making you more vulnerable.
- Inability to Deal With Heat
Going suddenly from a cool environment to outdoor hot environment can actually induce stress. This will make you intolerant to heat or hot temperatures during summer.
- Breathing Problems
This is one of the common side effects of cold air conditioning. Effects of air conditioning on lungs are fatal. Air conditioners are also known to circulate air-borne diseases such as Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal infectious disease that produces high fever and pneumonia.
There are many ways to which one can avoid side effects of air conditioners. Even though we may not fully avoid it, but we can definitely reduce these side-effects by taking necessary precautions. Some of the measures are mentioned below:
How to Avoid Side Effects of Air Conditioners
- Restraint – ACs are not meant to run for hours and hours. It is like having a hole in your wallet. As mentioned earlier, the temperature of the AC should be a degree or two below the room temperature. So keep your AC at 22-21 degrees max, let it run for two hours and then switch it off. The use of air conditioners has increased HCFC (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons) release by 20-30 percent which has set back ozone layer recovery by a whopping 25 years.
- Clean the AC Filter Regularly – Dirty filters can allow allergens, pesticides and other particulate matter to enter your home, posing threats to the indoor air quality. Exposure to those pollutants can trigger a host of health problems, including allergies, asthma, and eye, nose and, throat irritation.
- Yearly Maintenance Check – Most of the time, dust from the room and use of powders etc., can jam up the AC. This obviously poses respiratory concerns. Personally, I have woken up in the middle of the night sneezing like a maniac! Therefore having allergies during summer can be worsened if your AC is not maintained properly.
- Adequate Ventilation – Allowing fresh air to come in can help reduce indoor contaminants. Cold air is heavy and dense and can make breathing difficult. Having ventilated spaces allows normal and better breathing. An AC can be kept on for 2-3 hours and when not in use, make sure to open your windows to let the fresh air come in. The body is more suited to fresh air outside than the air in a heavy air-conditioned room.
- Air Cleanser – Having air cleaning units can drastically reduce the germs and pollutants that come from outside.
- Water Power – Drinking adequate amount of water can help reduce the symptoms of flaky dry skin. I personally wake up in the morning with itchy eyes. Even the sides of the nostrils and nose bridge are prone to drying out. This is because the AC sucks out moisture from your skin. applying olive oil or a moisturiser is recommended. Also, having a humidifier installed professionally can help solve this problem.
- Go Out, Inhale Fresh Air – Getting accustomed to air conditioners makes the outside temperatures seem even hotter. We tend to eat calorie dense food when it is cold. The summer months are meant for a leaner diet. The AC can lull you into a beautiful sleep but it just makes you lethargic. Nowadays, even gyms are installed with 5-6 ACs which completely defeat the purpose of sweating it out! Remember No Sweat, No Pain, No Gain. Spending some time out allows the body to adjust to the temperatures and remain active.
- Get Your Car AC Checked – Process of cooling hot air requires a lot of condensation and this can create a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Researchers at the Louisiana State Medical Center found eight types of mould living inside 22 out of 25 cars tested. Air fresheners can mask the bad odour but the mould still persists.
- Reduce Over Dependence on ACs – The only way to deal with rising temperatures is to adapt to it. Summer months are meant to be hot. But our bodies have the power of adaptability. Think about this, if farmers in the dry drought-ridden deserts of Rajasthan can live without fans, is it really difficult to stay without an air conditioner just for a few hours?
- Move to a Cold Country – I’m joking, but you could surely go for a long vacation in a comparatively cooler place which will not only give you a break from your hectic, boring daily life but will also do wonders to your body and mind. Temperatures are just going to rise and we can’t keep hiding in AC rooms all our life.
The side effects of air conditioners can be controlled by using it smartly. It’s sort of crazy how far people go to not feel hot. Being overly dependent on anything is never good for health. I would suggest, embrace the heat and all the sweat that comes with it. Stay hydrated; include a lot of yoghurt, fruit juices, and vegetables in your diet. There are easier ways to cool down honestly.