Summer Asthma: How Good Air Conditioning Can Help Fight It
Summer should be a time for relaxing with friends and enjoying sports and family barbecues, not for wheezing, chest tightness and coughs. If summer asthma bothers you or someone in your family, don't forget that good air conditioning can reduce the allergens in indoor air that trigger asthma attacks. By adding a high efficiency air cleaner to your new or existing heating and air conditioning system, you can reduce the pollen, dust and other asthma-inducing particles inside your home.
Indoor Air Pollution
Heat, humidity, air pollution, airborne chemicals, pollen and mold spores can cause asthma attacks in summer. Consequently, asthma sufferers may try to reduce their exposure to many outdoor asthma triggers by staying home, where the level of pollen and other asthma allergens is usually lower than outside. However, indoor air pollution can also contribute to asthma attacks. Tips for reducing pollen, dust, and mold spores inside the home include:
- Keeping the windows and doors closed and the air conditioning turned on.
- Dusting and vacuuming frequently. Wear a mask if you're an asthma sufferer.
- Using a clothes dryer to dry clothes. Avoid hanging clothes outside to dry.
- Washing your hair and changing your clothes if you've been outside when the pollen count is high.
How Air Conditioning Helps Relieve Summer Asthma Symptoms
A study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Journal confirms what many asthma sufferers know from personal experience: Hot, humid air can trigger an asthma attack. Air conditioning reduces both the heat and the humidity inside the home. The dehumidifying funciton is important because humid conditions often lead to the growth of mold spores, a common asthma trigger. The Environmental Protection Agency considers an ideal relative humidity inside the home to be between 30 and 50 percent. To keep household air drier and limit mold growth, be careful about running the air conditioning on the "fan only" setting. Running the unit on that setting means that air will be circulating whether the cooling and dehumidifying functions are operating or not. You want to avoid circulating air that is not being dehumidified.
How Air Filters Help Reduce Summer Asthma Symptoms
Air conditioning also relieves asthma symptoms by removing particles from indoor air. To be sure your AC is cleaning as many particles from the air as possible, make sure the unit is fitted with a high quality filter, or a high efficiency air cleaner. The American College of Asthma, Allergies and Immunology (ACAAI) recommends that homeowners turn their HVAC system into a filtration system for the entire home by fitting a disposable filter to the air conditioning unit. A good quality, well-fitted air cleaner type filter removes dust, pet dander, pollen and spores from the air. For the most effective indoor air pollution control, the ACAAI advises homeowners to replace a disposable filter around every three months. A good quality air filter that's effective at removing allergens from indoor air must fit perfectly inside the air conditioning unit and meet a minimum MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. If an filter doesn't fit exactly in the unit, the filtering will be inefficient. When replacing an air filter, measure the current filter to find the correct dimensions and a MERV rating between 8 and 13.
Summer asthma can make life uncomfortable, but sufferers can find relief at home with the help of good quality air conditioning. To speak to an expert about how you can upgrade your air conditioning system, contact Ragsdale.