Can My Car’s Air Conditioning Make Me Ill?

Can car air conditioning make you ill?

In a word – yes. It may seem unlikely but there is strong evidence that your car’s air conditioning can actually make you ill. The air that is pushed into your car’s cabin may seem cool and fresh but there can be a lot wrong with it. And often that problem is mould.

Mould can grow on the air conditioning’s evaporator deep inside the system, where it is dark and wet. The evaporator cools the air that comes out of the air vents inside the cabin. The evaporator gets wet in the process and provides a surface on which mould can develop.

How Your Air Conditioning Can Make You Ill

The air that travels through the evaporator into the cabin will pass any mould that has developed. The bacteria there can make you ill. In some extreme cases, the mould can lead to pneumonia – however, this is extremely rare. If you do have mould growing in your air conditioning you’re more likely to experience minor respiratory issues, such as a slight tightening of the chest. Other people may cough or sneeze.

How Do I Know If There Is Mould In My Air Conditioning?

If there is a strange smell coming out of your air conditioning vents, then it is most likely due to a build-up of mould. There are other causes, such as a build-up of residue from cigarettes, however, in most cases, this is due to mould. If this is the case, the best course of action is to get your car air conditioning professionally cleaned, as this will help to kill the bacteria.

The best way you can protect yourself from mould build-up, is to keep your car AC regularly serviced. Ensuring that you’re AC filters are renewed regularly will help ensure that dangerous levels of mould don’t build up.

Can Car Air Conditioning Cause A Sore Throat?

Yes, car air conditioning can cause a sore throat in some people, especially those with allergies or pre-existing conditions. Because air conditioning removes moisture from the air, it can cause irritation and dryness in the throat. In cars, the air is often recycled, which can contribute to poor air quality and the circulation of airborne particles that can irritate throats, such as dust and allergens.

What Are The Symptoms Of Air Conditioning Sickness?

Some common symptoms reported due to exposure to car air conditioning for an extended period of time include:

  • Irritation of the throat, nose, or eyes: Exposure to car air conditioning can cause irritation of the throat, nose, or eyes, leading to symptoms such as a sore throat.
  • Dry skin and eyes: Car air conditioning can remove moisture from the air, leading to dry skin and eyes. This can be uncomfortable and can contribute to other symptoms such as headaches.
  • Fatigue: People who spend prolonged periods in a car with the air conditioning on may experience fatigue or a general feeling of tiredness. This can be due to a lack of fresh air or exposure to low temperatures.
  • Respiratory problems: Some people may experience respiratory problems, such as coughing or even shortness of breath when spending time in a car with the air conditioning on for too long. This can be due to poor air quality or exposure to allergens or dust particles.

What Can I Do To Prevent Getting Sick With Car Air Conditioning?

Although not completely avoidable, here are some things you can do to alleviate sickness when travelling in an air-conditioned car for a long time:

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help to keep the throat moist and prevent dryness and irritation.
  • Clean the air vents and filters: Regularly clean the air vents and replace the air filters to prevent the circulation of dust and allergens – do this more often if you’re prone to allergies!
  • Use the air conditioning sparingly: If you’re prone to getting sick, avoid using the air conditioning for extended periods of time. Instead, open the windows to allow fresh air to circulate every few minutes if you start to feel uncomfortable.
  • Clean the interiors regularly: Make sure you clean the insides of the car regularly and vacuum any crumbs of food immediately after you’ve spilt it. Consider washing the floor mats at least once a month.

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