Good Question: Is AC To Blame For Summer Colds?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Walk around Minnesota and you’ll hear that low, purring hum of the air conditioning. However, you may also hear the sound of sneezing and coughing — the sound of the summer cold. So, does all our exposure to air conditioning cause summer colds?

On Twitter, Leah Michele wrote, “I just got over my summer cold & am convinced it is from spending the weekend in the AC!!”

Jenny You also tweeted that “AC is giving me the sniffles I think.”

In general, can air conditioning get you sick?

“Well, that’s a potential problem,” said Dr. Mark Seaburg, an internal medicine specialist at Park Nicollet’s Minneapolis clinic.

With window unit air conditioners, standing water can pool inside, and certain bacteria can get there and replicate. While the bacteria blowing around your home can lead to respiratory infections or pneumonia, it won’t lead to a cold.

So, is air conditioning even a factor in the summer cold?

“Not really. Summer colds are caused by viruses just like winter,” said Seaburg, “coming out of hot into a cold building, that’s not a reason to get sick.”

Colds aren’t caused by the cold weather, either. Two-hundred different viruses can cause what we call the “cold.”

Air conditioners do remove humidity from the air. Some researchers think that may remove the layer of mucus in your nose, which provides protection from viruses.

But the reality is: you’re three times more likely to catch a cold in the winter.

“Kids are in school more in the winter. So they’re congregating around each other and spreading those viruses around. They’re bringing them home. Their parents get sick. Their parents bring those viruses to work. That’s why were more prone to get sick in the winter,” said Seaburg.

In the summer, we’re outside more and not as close to each other, so we’re less likely to share our germs.

Air conditioning causing or contributing to colds is just an old-wives tale, according to Seaburg.

“I’m afraid we can’t blame it for our summer colds,” he said.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Jake

    As a person in his/her 50’s, I can never recall getting a cold in the summer here in Minnesota. So I would call this a STUPID QUESTION, for all of the right reasons. Or, to put it another way, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
    I’m SO TIRED ot this media NONSENSE.

    • Toni

      Sorry Jake, but I am a person in her 40’s who has gotten colds in the summer and I have lived in Minnesota all my life. If you have NEVER gotten one then consider yourself lucky. I disagree when you say this is a stupid question, I’m sure many people have wondered the same thing, I know I have. No one forced you to watch this video…you made the choice to click it on.

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  • See BS

    is the storie suggesting Jamie use a keyboard, mouse, pen or pencil with Aristea boogers on it?

    Yuccas Mucous sounds funny :-)

  • Kristin

    I think this story is quoting people who play doctor on TV.

  • Nancy Aleshire

    By the way the ragweed pollen season begins in August and it seems to happen earlier each year. There are other weed pollens out there who are pollinating beside ragweed. The symptoms of allergies are similar to colds, so if your cold doesn’t go away, it could very well be an allergy, especially if you have itchy eyes. Ragweed pollen allergies are more pronounced around State Fair and will last a few weeks past Labor Day. Also if you are allergic to bee stings, the yellow jackets are back. I’ve had allergies most my life.

  • Toni

    While the AC may not cause a cold, I have seen how it does stuff people up. My husband gets a stuffy nose when he comes into the house or car when the AC is running, and when he returns to the outdoors it clears up.

  • Sue

    Geez, next they should do a story about whether the earth is flat or round. Seriously, is there honestly people out there who think they can catch a cold from being cold still?

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