People don’t typically blame their furnaces when they feel sinus pressure. Unfortunately, your central heating system could be the culprit.
When the temperature drops, you turn on your heater and wait for it to get warm and cozy in your home. The last thing you want to do is start sneezing, blowing your nose, and coughing! However, many homeowners begin noticing these symptoms as soon as their heater begins working.
Unfortunately, your central heating system could be the culprit. People don’t typically blame their furnaces when they feel sinus pressure, especially during the colder seasons. Many assume they caught “that bug going around” or another type of illness. However, if you notice persistent symptoms this winter, your heating system may be affecting your indoor air quality, and it’s worth getting it checked out.
Can Your Furnace Actually Make You Sick?
Bacteria and viruses make us sick. However, dust, mold, mildew growth, and fungi can contribute to allergies. Many of the symptoms of seasonal illnesses are mimicked by the body’s response to breathing in these allergens. Dry air, caused by low humidity, dusty and dirty vents can all contribute to these problems.
Some of the symptoms you may experience this winter while you’re running your furnace may include:
- Sore throat
- Itchy nose & sneezing
- Itchy eyes
- Dry throat
- Cracked lips
- Dry skin
- Nose bleeds
Central Heating Can Make Other Issues Worse
You may not typically experience allergies until you’re exposed to the allergens in your central heating system. However, for others who already deal with problems, their heating system could exacerbate their problems.
For instance, dry air, dust, and allergens can trigger coughing or shortness of breath if you’ve got asthma. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or other lung conditions, may be affected by the air coming out of their HVAC system.
Central heating can also irritate the nose, making sinus infections worse. It can also contribute to dehydration, headaches, or migraines if you’re prone to them.
Why Do I Get a Stuffy Nose When the Air Conditioner Is On?
There are several possible reasons why you may be getting a stuffy nose when your air conditioner is on. Here are the most common reasons.
Allergies to Dust, Pollen, Dust Mites
For people with allergies, a poorly maintained air conditioning unit can exacerbate their condition. Anything from dust mites, mold, pollen, or other allergens can circulate in the indoor air through a dirty air filter. That can lead to a stuffy nose, watery eyes, coughing, and even skin problems.
Replacing or cleaning your air filters as often as the producer recommends is necessary and may even need to be done more often if you live in a dusty area.
Temperature Differences Trigger a Runny Nose
Sometimes, a stuffy nose is simply caused by the difference between the indoor and the outdoor temperature. If the indoor air is much colder than the air outside, getting inside might be followed by a runny, stuffy nose. Some people react more than others to differences in temperature, but the effect should last only a few minutes. Anything more serious than that may be caused by something else.
There is not much you can do about getting a stuffy nose from the temperature differences, but it is relatively harmless.
The Air Conditioner Dries the Air too Much
Air conditioning acts as a dehumidifier, and your nose might get stuffy if the air is too dry. Other related symptoms are coughing, skin rashes, dry skin, and stingy eyes. If you suspect this might be the cause of your problems, get a hygrometer, a simple measuring instrument that indicates the relative humidity in the air. The Environmental Protection Agency advises keeping it in a range between 30 and 60%. If it’s lower than this, it may be a good idea to invest in an air humidifier.
You Are Breathing Recycled Air
Air conditioners circulate the outdoor air, process it through their filtering and cooling systems, and blow it back inside. Anything wrong with your duct system, air filters, or condenser unit can decrease the quality of your indoor air. If your stuffy nose doesn’t go away and the HVAC professional can’t identify an issue with your AC unit, you may want to consider investing in an air purifier.
Having a stuffy nose may not always be related to the air conditioner, so it’s important to make sure there are no underlying health issues, like a viral infection or some other allergy.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
For those with asthma, allergies, or a weakened immune system, especially young children or the elderly, maintaining indoor air quality is of the utmost importance to overall health. Our expert indoor air quality technicians can install an air purification system in your air ducts.
In addition, your HVAC system needs to be maintained regularly, especially if you have allergies. At least once a year, you’re going to want to have your entire system maintained and your air quality checked. It would help if you also changed your filters every 1-3 months, depending on how many people and pets live in your home.
Certain kinds of mold are toxic to humans, even if you don’t suffer from allergies. You should always have your HVAC ducts tested for mold. Mold growth usually indicates a moisture problem, so a mold inspection can help you pinpoint more significant issues in your home, like water damage.
Indoor Air Quality – St. Louis HVAC
Allergies can substantially negatively impact your physical and mental health, so if you are suffering, don’t ignore them. One of the best things you can do to help your allergies is to maintain good indoor air quality, and your HVAC technician might be your best friend on this front.
At Thomas Hoffmann Air Conditioning & Heating LLC, we are a full-service residential heating and air conditioning company in St. Louis. With over 30 years of experience and a master technician and mechanical engineer as our owner, we can replace, repair, and provide maintenance for your home’s HVAC system.
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