The Asthmatic's Guide To Air Conditioning

21 April 2016
 Categories: , Articles


If you suffer regularly from asthma, you know how frustrating it feels when you have no control over the asthma triggers in your environment. Fortunately, modern living has provided you and others in your situation with a remarkably versatile and effective tool for doing just that: central air conditioning. Here are some smart air conditioning strategies that can have you breathing easier.

Control Heat and Humidity Levels

There's nothing like a home central air conditioner for relieving the scorching heat and relentless humidity many parts of the country receive during the summer months. This is a huge win for asthma sufferers, since extreme heat and humidity are known to trigger respiratory symptoms in these individuals. Heat plus humidity also causes mold to thrive, and the addition of mold spores in the air can create serious problems (such as doubling the risk of asthma attacks in children). Central air conditioning systems help by condensing water vapor, removing that moisture from the air so you don't have to breathe it and reducing mold proliferation. Get a humidity sensor and work on keeping humidity levels in your home between 35 percent and 50 percent for optimal results.

Not every asthmatic needs to invest in a home air conditioning installation such as an HVAC system. If you're in a part of the nation that enjoy a relatively dry environment, then you may find that a comparatively simple swamp cooler provides the comfort you seek. But if you need to dry the air throughout your home while also cooling it, an HVAC system is the way to go. 

Don't Go Overboard With the Cool Air

As helpful as your home central air conditioner maybe for reducing indoor temperature and humidity levels, it's possible to overachieve in this department -- and too much of a good thing can be a bad thing for asthma sufferers. That's because excessively cold or dry air can trigger an asthma attack just as readily as hot, muggy air can. A sudden drop in temperature can also promote asthma issues, so take a gradual approach when cooling your home instead of turning your thermostat way down all at once. Cold air plus exercise is particularly risky because the faster you inhale, the less chance the chilled air has of getting warmed up in the nasal passages before hitting sensitive lungs. Take care when working out in your air-conditioned home.

One additional concern about exposure to chilly air is that it can make you more vulnerable to the rhinoviruses that cause the common cold. As you probably known all too well, colds make asthma symptoms that much worse. If your air conditioner is running hard enough to actually make you feel a chill, turn it up and spare your lungs a lot of trouble.

Watch Out for Dusty Ductwork

Did you know that up to 90 percent of the dust in your home is dead skin? The human bodies in your household regularly shed large quantities of skin cells -- and this dead skin is the primary food source for that scourge of asthma sufferers known as the dust mite. The fecal matter and decomposing corpses left behind by these tiny creatures are a major trigger of both allergic reactions and asthma attacks. To add insult to injury, this material may be kicked up and distributed to every room by your home central air conditioner's ducts unless you take steps to prevent it.

To keep your air ductwork free of dust mite leavings, start at the bottom by cleaning your floor. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and dusting the floor and other horizontal surfaces in the house ensures that there will be less debris to be stirred around and swept into the air conditioning. Washing and replacing your bedclothes on a regular basis is another important aspect of dust mite control. As for those particles that make it to your air conditioning system, check the vents' air filters every so often and clean or replace them when they get clogged up. Take the extra preventative step of having your air conditioning ducts inspected -- and if necessary, cleaned -- by a professional service technician every few years.

Air conditioning can be a wonderful ally in the fight against asthma as long as you use it properly and make sure it's working for you instead of against you. Good luck!

For more information or assistance with repair, contact a AC repair service in your area, such as HomeSmart From Xcel Energy.