A stuffy nose can occur at any time of the year, and when it happens we're not always sure what to do about it or what is the culprit. Should we stay away from air conditioning or should we warm the house?
Well, it seems that these days, doctors believe that one of the culprits behind clogged-up sinuses, sinus pressure, and the complementary headaches might indeed be our old trusty friend, the air-conditioner.
There are several reasons why your AC can trigger sinusitis, and in this article, we will review all of them for you. But that’s not all, we will also tell you what you can do to rule out the harmful effects of your air-conditioner to fully enjoy the benefits of an air-conditioned home without its harmful effects.
The Differences in Temperatures and Humidity May Clog Up Your Nose
One of the leading cause of a sudden sneeze attack and a clogged up nose is the dramatic difference in temperatures between the weather outside and the climate indoors.
In the summer, upon entering an air-conditioned room after spending time outside, you might get a stuffy nose because the mucous membranes in your nose and sinuses start producing liquid to adjust the temperature of your body to the new environment.
In the winter, on the other hand, your AC dehydrates the air in the room, which can dry up your sinuses. This is bad because your sinuses need to stay moist to be able to clean the air that goes into your lungs. A dry nose can make you more prone to infections and allergies, and is also hard on sensitive sinuses, making it harder for them to heal from the infection.
The Dust and Bacteria That Accumulate on the Air-Conditioner’s Filter May Irritate Your Nose
Air-conditioner filters, if not cleaned properly or often enough, can quickly accumulate dust and harbor bacteria, which the AC can then spread around the living space. Once you inhale the contaminated air, the bacteria and dust can get stuck on the surface of your nose and irritate them, making you sneeze.
The Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health published a study measuring the number of bacteria in air-conditioned homes and found the air in the homes were significantly more contaminated with bacteria than the air outdoors.
Even more interestingly, participants that lived in the homes most contaminated by bacteria often complained about sinus congestion, eye irritation, and headaches.
The Mold From a Dirty Filter May Cause Allergic Reactions
The same dirty filter can sometimes be contaminated by mold, which can be dangerous because it is a common and quite reactive allergy trigger that can affect the health of people prone to allergic reactions. People with asthma and pulmonary problems should be particularly wary about mold in AC filters.
What Can You Do to Prevent Sinusitis Caused by Your Air-Conditioner?
1. Clean the AC filter regularly and properly. Ideally, you should clean your air conditioner's filter every month, but even if you don’t use it every day, you should still clean the filter every 3 months. Additionally, make sure the freshly-cleaned filter is completely dry, otherwise, it can grow mold.
2. Get a carpet. Carpets can absorb the dust and microorganisms such as bacteria or mold from the air in the room, so it’s a good idea to invest into one. You can then easily vacuum and eliminate them.
3. Avoid cranking up the air-conditioner when it’s very cold or hot outside. When entering your home from a very hot or cold environment, first turn the air conditioner on to a less dramatically-different temperature to let your body adjust to the change in temperature gradually. After half an hour or so, you can adjust the temperature to a comfortable level. Needless to say, the same rule works when you’re about to exit your home.
4. Follow these sinus health tips. You can also treat your sinuses to prevent sinusitis by keeping your body and nasal membranes hydrated and happy. We discuss the specific methods in this article on sinus health.
And finally, if you’re interested in learning to relieve sinus pressure and congestion with a facial pressure point massage, check out this video how to clear a stuffy nose with ease.