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Myth or Fact: You Can Get Sick from Walking in and out of Buildings with AC When Hot Outside

Posted Date: 8/28/2012

Although summer is coming to an end, the hot weather is still going strong. The higher the temperature is outside, the colder we make the AC. But can this large contrast between our refreshingly chilly offices and the summer heat make us sick? Dr. Michael Marcus, Director of Pulmonary Medicine, sets the record straight.

“There are several studies which show that going from a hot to cold environment, or vice versa, does not increase one’s risk of developing respiratory illnesses,” states Dr. Marcus. Instead, he suggests that the real culprit could be the dry air inside the office. “Dry air may make the mucosa inside the nose and throat dry and irritated. The change from the humid weather outside to the drier environment inside may cause irritation,” explains Dr. Marcus. The discomfort caused by this irritation may feel similar to an oncoming respiratory infection, but you won’t get sick from it.

Allergies may also be to blame “There are many people who have allergies to mold and dust, which can accumulate in the air ducts in buildings,” states Dr. Marcus. When the AC is turned on, these spores are blown out of the vents and into the air in which we breathe. “As a result, people may get a runny nose or a cough – but it’s due to an allergic reaction, not a virus,” emphasizes Dr. Marcus.

Verdict: MYTH  – However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get sick during the summer. “If you have symptoms that persist for more than 10 days or which get worse, see your doctor,” recommends Dr. Marcus.


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