Can Air Conditioning Cause Sinus Congestion?

Sinus congestion

If you count yourself among the 37 million Americans who suffer from sinus problems, your air conditioner may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On the one hand, air conditioning can be a real lifesaver when it comes to breathing air that isn’t filled with pollutants or outdoor allergens, but it can also lead to sinus congestion, if you aren’t careful.

Here at Riviera Allergy Medical Center, Dr. Ulrike Ziegner specializes in helping his patients in Redondo Beach, California, breathe easier. And when it comes to air conditioning, there are pros and cons for your sinuses.

Here’s a look at how air conditioning can cause sinus congestion and how you can fix it.

Running hot and cold

One of the more significant ways your air conditioning may aggravate your sinus congestion is through the dramatic temperature change. Southern California has its fair share of warm days, and when it really heats up during the summer, air conditioning provides an oasis in a sea of heat. This abrupt, dramatic change in temperature, however, can cause your nose to run because the glands in your nose that produce mucus are triggered by the blast of cold air.

This effect is perfectly natural, but its impact on those with chronic sinus issues can be stronger because the excess mucus can exacerbate existing sinus congestion. If you have to reach for a tissue when you hit an air-conditioned space, you have to simply wait it out as your body adjusts to the new temperature.

Clean it up

Typically, we recommend that allergy sufferers and those with nagging sinus problems air condition their homes in order to avoid the pitfalls that lie outdoors, including allergens and pollutants. But if you’re not cleaning your air conditioner’s filter often enough, you may be eliciting the opposite effect by recycling dirty air.

The filters in your air conditioning system do a great job of trapping dust and other airborne particles that can irritate your sinuses. If you don’t swap out or clean the filter, however, the trapped particles may take a return trip into the air you breathe.

In fact, you should go a step further and regularly service your air conditioning unit if you’re prone to sinus problems. Mold, dust, and pollen can get caught in the coils and be recycled back into the air you breathe, irritating your already compromised sinuses.

The humidity factor

If you’re spending considerable time indoors with the air conditioning cranked up, you can do your sinuses a favor by periodically giving them a steam bath, as well. Using either warm compresses or breathing in steaming hot water you can soothe your sinuses, giving them the moisture they need. The steam also works to break up congestion, which relieves the pressure in your sinuses.

While the benefits of air conditioning far outweigh the risks, you can take a few steps to ensure that your air conditioning continues to keep you cool without adding to your sinus problems.

If you’d like to learn more about the effect that air conditioning has on sinus congestion, please give us a call or request an appointment using the online booking tool found on this website.

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