Why the Air Conditioner Can Cause a Sore Throat

Why the Air Conditioner Can Cause a Sore Throat

When that Sacramento sun heats up, you probably have your air conditioner running ‘round the clock to keep your house cool and comfortable. While it’s nice to reduce the heat and humidity in your home, it could have unfortunate side effects like a sore, itchy throat.

Could it be your air conditioner? Possibly. Air conditioning is designed to “condition” the air, however can also remove the humidity while doing so, which makes the air drier and more irritating to your throat and sinuses. Some situations can make these symptoms worse, however, such as an air conditioner that’s not operating as it should. Here’s what you need to know about why the air conditioner can cause a sore throat.

Why Do I Have a Sore Throat?

Air conditioners work by removing the humidity in a room and transferring the hot air outside, recycling the cool air. But with this, air conditioners take all the moisture out of your indoor air and leave it excessively dry. This can cause symptoms like:

Toy Story meme about dry air

If you have allergies, especially indoor allergies, or pre-existing health conditions, you may find that you get more of these symptoms from constant use of your air conditioner. Sometimes, however, issues with your air conditioning can make your sore throat or other symptoms worse, such as:

Bad AC Installation

If your air conditioner wasn’t installed correctly – or years of use altered its installation – the air doesn’t circulate properly. It can stagnate, harboring bacteria that leads to infection or respiratory symptoms. Any time you have an air conditioning system installed, make sure you’re working with an experienced and knowledgeable HVAC professional who can plan out the installation and ensure you’re using the right system for your home’s size, insulation, and ventilation.

Cracked or Broken Ductwork

If your ductwork is cracked or damaged in any way, dust and dander can get into your ducts. Bypassing the air filter, these contaminants return to your indoor air and build up, leading to respiratory infection, sinusitis, or sore throats.

Image: Tubes of ducts. Broken and cracked ductwork could be why the air conditioner may cause a sore throat.

Lack of AC Maintenance

Like anything else, air conditioners need routine maintenance from experienced HVAC contractors. If you don’t maintain your system properly, you can have issues brewing in your system like mold or bacteria that affect your indoor air quality. The least you can do is replace your air filters regularly, but you should schedule routine air conditioner maintenance from an HVAC contractor as well.

Closed Vent Control

If you’re running your air conditioner with the vent control closed, you can’t have proper air exchange between your indoor and outdoor air. Like poor installation, this can cause stagnation in some areas of your system that can accumulate mold or bacteria. Over time, this can cause problems with your health, so always keep the vent control open when you’re running your air conditioner.

Image: They type of vent you should be keeping open to not get a sore throat.
When properly used, air conditioners cause dryness in the air that can be irritating to your nose and throat. These issues are outside of normal operation, however, and should be corrected to maintain good air quality.

What You Can Do If the Air Conditioner Is Giving You a Sore Throat

After you have your air conditioner checked for proper installation and maintenance, you can take additional steps to improve your indoor air quality and reduce the likelihood of symptoms like a dry or irritated throat.

  • Drink plenty of water year round, but especially in these hot, humid months when air conditioning creates low-humidity environments. Your throat and sinuses will be more moisturized and less irritated.

  • Avoid running your air conditioner around the clock. Put it on economy mode to cycle it on and off or turn it off when you leave your home.
  • Change air filters regularly. Having dust, dirt, and pet dander building up in your air filters not only puts more strain on the system, but they can irritate your throat more.

Image: side by side air filters, one clean and one dirty.

  • Spend some time in fresh air. Indoor air may be pleasant, but it doesn’t have the best balance of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. Make sure to enjoy outdoor air to give your throat and sinuses a break from the dry, conditioned air.

  • Avoid using irritants like fragranced cleaning products, chemicals, or air fresheners in your air conditioned spaces. They could be irritating your sinuses and throat more, and perhaps that’s the real cause of your sore throat and not your air conditioner. You could also invest in a HEPA air filter to handle pet dander and dust in your home.

If you need air conditioning installation, repairs, or maintenance, contact the pros at Bell Brothers today!