If you’ve noticed a lingering sore throat every time you’re in a certain building, you might be wondering if the building’s AC is the culprit. It’s certainly possible for your AC to affect your respiratory health, but a sore throat isn’t always caused by your AC. To understand the sore throat A/C connection, it can be helpful to understand a little about how indoor air quality affects your respiratory system.

You Can Get a Sore Throat From Dry Air

The most common reason that people get a sore throat from their AC is due to dryness. Air conditioners do more than just cool the air. As they run, they also naturally remove humidity from the air. This can be helpful when you live in a damp, humid environment. However, if your AC is running nonstop, it can remove too much humidity and leave your air feeling extremely dry.

If humidity drops below around 40%, you might find that your indoor air is a lot less comfortable. When humidity is lower, moisture evaporates from your skin a lot quicker. This effect is felt even inside your throat. As you inhale, the dry air rushes down your throat and pulls moisture away from the lining of your throat. Unfortunately, the throat and mouth are lined with mucous membranes that are supposed to be moisturized at all times. If your air conditioning is drying them out, these delicate tissues end up feeling raw and irritated.

Mold or Other Contaminants Can Also Cause a Sore Throat

A dry air sore throat isn’t the only reason your air conditioning might bother you. You can also have a sore throat if your indoor air quality is very poor. When your AC kicks on, it can start stirring up your air. Usually, this brings in fresh air that helps you breathe more easily. However, if your air is contaminated, it can instead inflame your throat and make it hurt.

There are many ways that your indoor air can end up with contaminants that cause a sore throat. If you’re allergic to pollen or pet dander, the breeze caused by your HVAC system can pick up these irritants off the furniture or floor and blow them in your face. Your respiratory system works best when it’s inhaling clean air, so if you’re regularly breathing dusty air instead, your throat can start to feel raw and scratchy.

In some cases, you can also end up with irritants inside your HVAC system. Though rare, mold can grow in your air ducts or other AC components. Usually, mold growth happens if your system is older, improperly designed, or neglected. When mold is inside your HVAC system, mold spores blow into your home with each AC cycle. If you’re routinely breathing mold or other grime, you might end up with an unpleasantly sore throat.

How to Tell If Your AC Is Causing Your Sore Throat

There are many causes of a sore throat that don’t have anything to do with your air conditioner. How can you figure out if your AC is the cause of your discomfort? If you keep getting a persistent sore throat but aren’t sick with any other illness, your AC might be the culprit.

One of the most common warning signs is a sore throat when you wake up. Since you lay there all night inhaling air from your AC without a break, you’re more likely to have AC-related problems in the morning. Another common symptom of a sore throat from your AC is discomfort whenever your air conditioner starts up. If you’re fine all day but end up with a sore throat right after you hear your AC click on, the HVAC unit is probably the issue. In these cases, it is most likely the rush of dry air that is triggering a sore throat.

Many people assume that if the AC causes their sore throat, they’ll instantly feel better when they step outside. However, the reality is that symptoms can linger. Especially if your sore throat is from breathing mold, you can get physically ill and continue to feel bad even after you leave the house. If you suspect that mold is causing your sore throat, be sure to keep an eye out for other signs of a mold infestation. This includes musty smells, congestion, itchy eyes, and headaches.

What to Do About a Sore Throat From Your AC

If your air conditioner is giving you a sore throat, it’s important to address the situation promptly. Ignoring it can just make your sore throat linger, and when your respiratory system is under stress, it’s easier to catch colds and other illnesses. The right way to solve a sore throat from an air conditioner will depend on whether your discomfort is caused by dry air or poor air quality.

If the dryness of your air is causing your throat to hurt, the simplest fix is just to raise the temperature in your home. If your AC runs less, it removes less water, and you might feel more comfortable. However, there are ways to keep your house on the chillier side without drying out the air. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, so you can fix your sore throat. An affordable solution is getting a small, portable, humidifier that you can sit near your bed, sofa, or desk. For a more permanent solution, you can install a whole-home humidifier. These humidifiers connect to your main HVAC system, so all the air in your house gets a little extra moisture.

When your sore throat is caused by poor indoor air quality, it will be necessary to address whatever is contaminating your air. For those who have allergies, fixing a sore throat can be as simple as deep cleaning the house and swapping out air filters. Regularly changing your filters will help to catch more pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and other irritants. If you continue to have problems, you can even upgrade your system with special in-duct air purifiers that keep your air as fresh as possible.

If mold is the underlying cause of your sore throat, adding more air filters and purifiers will only help a little bit. You’ll need to remove the mold that’s harming your respiratory system. A good duct cleaning and AC cleaning is the first place to start. AC professionals can use special equipment to sanitize your entire HVAC system. However, some AC units might have poor designs that let mold grow. If you get recurring mold infestations, you might need to discuss rearranging your ducts or updating your AC system. Don’t forget that mold can also grow outside of your air conditioner. You’ll need to check walls, ceilings, cabinet interiors, the undersides of furniture, and more to see if mold is anywhere else in your home.

If your air conditioning is giving you a sore throat, turn to Aace's Heating, Air Conditioning & Swamp Coolers. Our team of expert HVAC technicians can assess your indoor air quality and figure out what’s going wrong. We also offer a variety of other heating and cooling services. Victorville residents can count on us for help with installations, repairs, and maintenance. To learn more about Aace's Heating, Air Conditioning & Swamp Coolers, give us a call today.

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