Is air conditioning making you sick?


Is air conditioning making you sick?

Warrick Lattibeaudiere

Sunday, December 27, 2020

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AIR conditioning is considered a breath of fresh air for many workers in hot, humid climates.

This invention has made many decide to live in temperatures with a high of over 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, as is the case in areas such as the US during summer. Though many have grown accustomed to the benefits of air conditioning, there lurks a dark side. What exactly do you need to know?

Aggravating your woes

Too much air conditioning is known to aggravate various ailments of man. People with arthritis suffer more with pains in the joints. So, too, do people with neuritis experience greater pain.

Those with sinusitis tend to have nasal areas more clogged or their heads congested. Not to mention the flare-ups some may suffer with ear infections.

More susceptible to other ailments

While air conditioning aggravates certain ailments, it may make you prone to other minor ones, underscoring how subtly it may act in compromising health. Then the danger lies in minor health issues worsening to major ones.

In his book, Total Health, Morton Walker speaks of what happens when the body is overheated or chilled. In reference to one sitting in a draft or entering an air-conditioned store from a broiling, hot street, he says: “The body responds, but when forced to do so too often, it shows symptoms of illness.”

Difficulty acclimatising

Undoubtedly, air conditioning has saved the lives of thousands, especially during summer heat waves. What many may not recognise is that the same air conditioning that saves lives is what helps to make it difficult for people's bodies to be acclimatised to summer temperatures.

Understandably, severe heat waves are now claiming more lives. More and more office buildings and even apartments, you'll notice, are shutting out air from the outside in favour of air conditioning. Just imagine how unbearable these spaces become were an extended blackout to occur.

What to do

True, buildings with natural ventilation have excelling advantage, but we may have little control over this, especially where work requires AC units to be kept at a particular temperature each day, sometimes having you in a polar icebox. Even if you have AC at home, the natural air works wonders, and even the good old fan may be better than air conditioning. What else can be done?

1. For those with ailments that air conditioning tends to aggravate, avoid it as much as possible.

2. For those without ailments, do the same — avoid it as much as possible — or be moderate, since a preventative measure is better than a curative one.

3. Where work buildings demand air conditioning, try not to live at work doing work. Make it your aim to finish up work and get cracking. Or where permission can be granted at work to have periods where it is turned off, you may want to make use of those breaks. You could even try sensitising or enlightening workmates about the dangers of too much air conditioning. Many, during the during the coronavirus pandemic, are making use of the opportunity to work from home, where they have greater control over air space.

4. You may consider taking your lunch hour at work on the outside or in a natural ventilated space.

Air conditioning is, undoubtedly, a great invention of man, one that has saved lives, making it cool and comfortable, but if not used judiciously the opposite may result, and turn your life into a living hell.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere, PhD, a minister of religion for the past 23 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica, where he is also director of the Language, Teaching and Research Centre. E-mail him at

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