Air Conditioning Can Cause iLLness

Air Conditioning Can Cause iLLness


Not so many years ago, air conditioning was a luxury vouchsafed only to the privileged few; now, though, it’s the norm in many offices and public transport systems, so it’s a part of our lives whether we want it or not. Unfortunately, abusively low temperatures and faulty maintenance have led to health problems, triggering common disorders in some people and occasional major outbreaks of illnesses such as Legionnaires’ disease. 

Air conditioning seems to make people ill in some way or another, but actually, the runny nose, watery eyes syndrome that looks like flu is actually our body’s natural response to the unatural coldness. Air conditioned air is usually very dry without a humudifier, so the delicate lining of our nose and mouth could become cracked and dry. To prevent this, our body floods those delicate areas with mucus so as to prevent the tissue from drying out. Some people get nosebleeds in air conditioned rooms. Same reason why nosebleeds happen everywhere: a damaged inner nose lining. 

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of keeping your cool


Thanks to advanced technology, in such hot weather, one could hardly imagine what it would be like without air conditioning.

  • Extreme heat has a clear negative impact on the intellect and on physical activity and the use of air conditioning can go some way to rectifying this.

  • It improves comfort levels at work and at leisure.

  • It improves job performance.

  • It can result in increased physical and intellectual activity.

  • A lower temperature reduces the presence of insects and parasites.

  • Lower temperatures mean less sweating, reducing the risk of dehydration.

  • A clean air conditioning system helps exclude external allergens such as pollens.

  • If the air conditioning installation is good, and if it is well maintained, it renews and improves air quality.


But every coin has its two sides (like Yin and Yang Philosophy), “air conditioning sickness” is the other side of it. Let’s take a look at statements from my patients: Patient A: “ it’s too hot, I have to keep the air-con on the whole night. But when I get up the next morning, I feel sore all over my body. Even the joints of my fingers and toes hurt.” Patient B: “The air-conditioning at my office is too strong, I feel pain in my neck and shoulder. I have difficulty getting up in the morning. I feel weak all over, and do not have appetite. I even feel depressed, nauseous and dizzy.” Patient C: “I just recovered from a cold, now I’m having another cold. My period pain becomes more serious and I feel depressed.”

  • Sudden changes in temperature and humidity affect the respiratory system.

  • It has a drying effect on skin and mucous membranes.

  • It adds to ambient noise, contributing to noise pollution.

  • The air circulation can transmit infectious respiratory diseases.

  • Airborne dust and fungi can cause allergic reactions.

  • Air conditioning is associated with chronic rhinitis and pharyngitis, throat irritation and hoarseness.

  • Air conditioning can exaccerbate eye conditions such as conjunctivitis and blepharitis, as well as causing problems for contact lens wearers.

Don’t forget

  • Air conditioned spaces should be regularly ventilated.

  • Professional installation and maintenance is essential for both individual units and centralised systems.

  • Keep room temperature between 21º and 25º C.

  • Try to maintain an average humidity of between 60% and 70%.

As for spreading of diseases, most air cons have filter installed. Most of these filters are washable, net type filters, unless you are based in a commercial office center, where air conditioning is centralized. Net type filters actually work better when there is more dirt on them. For example, let’s say the gaps in a certain net filter is 0.001 mm. as muck builds up, less and less muck can go through, because the 0.001 mm gaps may have become clogged and gotten even smaller. There are only 2 reasons why these filters are to be cleaned: so that they look better and to increase airflow. 

Headaches result in an airconditioned room because our warm blood under the scalp comes into contact with dastardly cold air. If this happens to suddenly, the blood will lose temperature and thuse depriving the brain of heat, causing headaches. same reason for aching bones and toothaches. The principle is that same as trying to eat an ice lolly in one go. that numbing, searing pain you will get in your teeth is the same reason for the above mentioned problems. 

What can we do about air conditioning sickness?

  1. When working in a cold, air-conditioned office, it’s always good to bring a jacket or a scarf to protect the neck. Our neck is the “window” of the incoming chill. It’s better for women to keep the feet warm, in order to prevent a “cold uterus” and help relieve period pain.

  2. If using air conditioning at night, it’s better to set a timer and turn it off after midnight. A little sweat helps with removing the chill from the air conditioning.

  3. When feeling tired after getting up in the morning, it’s better to drink a cup of hot tea, which will help you eliminating the chill by sweating. Cold breakfast is better to be avoided.

  4. If possible, try not to use the air conditioning, especially at night. The chill will go into our bodies slowly through the open pores, make us catch a cold while lying still.

  5. Be careful of the draught. Especially at night, the draught would give us a momentary comfort and coolness, but it could pass through our bodies and internal organs. Our bodies sometimes can not eliminate the wind and this would lead to sickness, such as arthritis, asthma, cough, cold, headache, neck pain, joint pain and indigestion. Special attention should be paid to children and the elderly.

  6. No excessive cold drinks. Cold drinks may make us feel comfortable for a short period of time. But it makes a bigger difference between our body temperature and the natural temperature, we probably feel even hotter after having cold drinks, so we keep drinking cold stuff. If you keep doing this for a long time, the Qi of the spleen and stomach will be damaged, which would lead to fatigue, cough, phlegm, indigestion, gassy stomach and depression.

  7. We need to sweat a bit everyday in summer. Summer is the perfect season for everything to grow. Letting nature take its course is healthy. Our bodies need certain amount of sweat to remove the heat stored inside.

  8. Ginger is a treasure. Drinking some ginger tea or using ginger in the cooking helps to remove internal chill as well as external chill.

  9. Please do not take a shower after sweating heavily. Please do not put yourself into the “fridge” right after the shower.

  10. Keep warm of the lower back and abdomen at night, especially for kids.

  11. Drink a lot of water.