Is the Air-Conditioning Annoying you at Work?

Submitted on December 10, 2013
Here's why it's a good idea to spend your office breaks out in the open rather than in an air-conditioned lunch room.
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These days air conditioning is more of a necessity than a modern comfort, especially in hot climates. Office goers today work in air conditioned offices and would find it difficult to get through those humid, sticky days without it. However if you're someone who finds it uncomfortable to stay in an air-conditioned space for long periods of time, you're definitely not alone.

Here are some ways in which an air conditioner can affect your health:

  • Chronic Fatigue: Studies show that people who work in offices with strong air conditioning are prone to chronic tiredness and headaches. Sitting in a space that is constantly air-conditioned can irritate the mucus membranes and lead to breathing problems. This can also make you susceptible to illnesses such as cold and flu.
  • Skin Dryness: Your skin can lose its natural moisture due to prolonged exposure to cold air.
  • Aggravation of Chronic Illnesses: Conditions such as arthritis and low blood pressure may worsen due to air conditioning leading to increased pain and discomfort.
  • Intolerance to Heat: Research suggests that spending a great deal of time in an air-conditioned space may affect a person's ability to deal with heat. There may be considerable strain on the body when moving from a cool office to the hot outdoors. During heat waves, this can lead to serious deterioration of health.
  • Allergy Bouts: Air conditioning systems work effectively in closed environments where the cooled air is circulated over and over. To ensure such an environment, offices make use of insulations and proofing products. However, there may be many contaminants in the air which also get re-circulated, triggering symptoms such as sneezing, headache, shortness of breath and tiredness in allergy sufferers. Some of the contaminants commonly present in indoor air include synthetic fibers from furniture, dust mites, chemicals from cleaning products and gases from cooking appliances and heaters.

It may not always be possible to switch off the air conditioning and it's impractical to look for an office that doesn't have air conditioning. But there are some ways by which you can make things a bearable for yourself and also protect your health in the long run.

  • Protect your skin from dryness with a liberal use of moisturizer.
  • When possible, take a break from the cold air by going outdoors. It is a good idea to eat lunch outside. In addition to giving your body a dose of some sunlight, it will also prevent you from becoming intolerant to heat in the long term.
  • A humidifier in the office would help to alleviate the allergy symptoms caused by air conditioning. To get rid of mold in the air conditioner ducts, have the unit running for half an hour after turning the cooling off. This helps to get rid of dampness in the ducts. Also request the concerned authority in the office to have the air conditioners cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.   
  • Prolonged exposure to cold air can cause your eyes to become dry and itchy. If you wear contact lenses, ensure that you use them for short periods of time. The lenses sit on the moisture in the eyes and when this moisture dries up, it can lead to irritation. It may be even better to skip wearing them if you're spending a great deal of time in an air-conditioned space. Eye drops are helpful for a temporary relief. But if you feel the irritation is excessive, it's advisable to see a doctor.