Can you get sick from the air conditioning?

Can you get sick from the air conditioning?

“Can you get sick from the air conditioning? “, asks Victoire, from Blois. With the heatwaves hitting France, air conditioning often runs at full capacity in offices or shops. But can it make us sick? How to avoid the risks associated with air conditioning? Ouest-France answers you.

You can’t catch a cold because of the air conditioning

The term “catch cold” is misleading. The common cold is the result of an infection and therefore contact with a virus. It is not related to temperature. If the virus is present around us, we risk getting sick, whether the space is air-conditioned or not. The virus is transmitted by droplets thrown by the infected person, or by body-to-body contact or through contaminated objects. More than 200 viruses can cause colds.

However, it is true that the cold weakens our immune system. It can make us more vulnerable and therefore increase the risk of being contaminated with a virus.

Air conditioning is also unlikely to contribute to the spread of germs. “It is not a risk factor for viral infections”says Dr. Matthieu Calafiore, general practitioner and lecturer at the University of Lille, interviewed by Info France . “This equipment includes filters that help minimize risks and the air is renewed regularly. “

Read also: SNCF. Does a train need to be air-conditioned? We answer you

Air conditioning can cause irritation

Air conditioning can sometimes cause what looks like a cold, but it isn’t. “One of the principles of air conditioning is to cool the air and dry it, explains Doctor Calafiore. This dries up the nasal mucous membranes which will weaken and, in reaction, become a little more moist, which can lead to rhinitis (runny nose). But this is not related to an infection “.

If dryness affects the sinuses, it can cause pain similar to that of sinusitis. Again, it can also make us more vulnerable to germs and viruses.

Air conditioning can also cause dry eyes. “The surface of the eye is like the nasal mucosa: a layer of liquid helps to evacuate dust and microparticles”continues the doctor. “Without this filter, the eye is more sensitive and increases the risk of allergic conjunctivitis”.

To overcome these problems, air conditioners are often equipped with an air humidification system.

How to avoid the risks associated with air conditioning?

Several good practices are recommended to avoid the risks associated with air conditioning. First, the temperature difference between inside and outside shouldn’t be too great. It is best to keep a difference of five to seven degrees at most. “Man has difficulty withstanding too sudden changes in temperature, ie over 7 ° C”says Doctor Calafiore.

Air conditioning must also be maintained regularly, both in buildings and vehicles. “Particularly important is the periodic replacement of the filters that retain particles and infectious agents and the verification of the absence of water stagnation in the cooling system”remembers the doctor.

Many bacteria can grow in standing water such as legionella, which is responsible for legionellosis. It is a lung disease that causes respiratory distress. When the air conditioning is properly maintained, however, the risk of contracting this disease is very low.

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