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Pros and cons – the truth behind air conditioning

Probably depends on where you live, and how the older folks trust the new machinery, but there are questions raised about whether air conditioning affects health.

Air conditioners used to be a luxury item, but now, they are everywhere – our homes, cars, schools, and offices. Since their invention in the American South, the air conditioner has become a demand in nearly every aspect of life. However, as with everything else that comes into common use, we have to consider if these machines are affecting our overall health. Air conditioners are meant to be used and maintained specifically to keep people in good health, however, there are instances when they do more harm than good. While scientists are finding solutions for some issues, such as rhinitis in children, it is important to know all the health facts associated with these machines.

Positive Impacts on Health

Air conditioners can have great positive impact on our health. Overall, the heat makes us sluggish and slows our brain activity. The CDC reports that living in an air conditioned environment helps these issues. Brain activity stays consistent when people keep cool. Further, the heat causes dehydration, which leads to other issues. The body systems will shut down when a person sweats away water, and the brain begins to fail, as reported by the CDC. Air conditioned rooms keep a person’s body temperature at a manageable level. The machines reduce the amount of parasites, as some, such as mosquitoes, prefer the heat. When the air conditioning system is cleaned regularly, it will move allergens out of the air, and will improve overall air quality. Some people run the air conditioner in the winter for this reason.

Negative Impacts on Health

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports many negative effects of air conditioning. A sudden temperature change might affect the respiratory system, for example. This is why some people with breathing issues have a hard time shopping in the summertime. The consistent cold air also zaps moisture from the skin and mucous membranes, causing possible cracking or bleeding. This is why air conditioning has been associated with pharyngitis, rhinitis, and throat irritation. If the system is not cleaned properly, it will move dirty air around, defeating its clean air benefit. This could trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Defeating these negative impacts means keeping the unit clean. Conducting regular maintenance on the unit is essential to its operation. Keep some humidity in the room to avoid drying out mucous membranes, and keep the temperature consistent to avoid a drastic temperature change from outdoors to indoors.

Air conditioners are a comfortable convenience, and are often necessary for older citizens. They provide more benefits than they do disadvantages, especially when they are maintained correctly. Make sure to take care of the air conditioning unit to avoid potential negative impacts of the machine.
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Timothy Buck

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