Allergy Community
10.3k Members
Avatar universal

sensitive to cold air conditioner

I am acutely sensitive to cold air conditioner. The effects are immediate and the colder the air the worse things are. This is followed by a thumping headache and painful soreness in the eyes and nostrils. Further exposure can result in heavy nasal congestion and pain spreading all around my eyes, jaws , teeth, And headache. The problem started  after my open heart surgery for an aorotic valve replacement, and I am on coumadin therapy for life time.  With my primary Dr. we did a lot of  kind lab tests included TSH and they all come normal.  I am a nurse working in the hospital. I wear a lots of clothing . If a go to the grocery store , I run along the aisles becuase I don't want to get sick . I stopped going to restaurants. Can you offer any help as to what it might be, what has caused it and what can be done? I so desperate, please help. Thank you
92 Responses
Avatar universal
Just surfing for info. on my allergy to cold air, also, and noticed your request for help.  I read an article recently that said people can acquire this allergy through a blood transfusion.  I assume you had one with your surgery?  I've had this problem for about 45 years and have found no help from medical establishment.  The most interesting thing I've found lately is a form of nasal spray that is made from hot peppers, called Sinus Buster.  It really seems to help, except it doesn't help my eyes.  I'm also researching a nerve block procedure called SPG Block.  It uses lidocaine.
Avatar universal

What is your age? Are you allergic to any specific substances? Have you had allergic reactions in the past?

Do you have any symptoms of sinusitis or rhinitis?

What other medications are you on currently?

You should get an ENT evaluation and get a CT scan of your sinuses done if advised by your ENT specialist advises.

Till then you should try some steam inhalation, saline nasal drops and see if it helps with your symptoms. But it would be best to avoif air conditioned environments till the cause of your symptoms is established.

Let us know about what your doctor advises and if you have any other doubts.

Keep us posted about how you are doing.

Avatar universal
Hi, I have very similar problems. After a short exposure to the air condition, I get pain in my nose and throat and if I stay more I get sinusitis-like and flu-luke symtoms for the next 2 days. Generally, I'm allergic to dust and mold, so since air condition systems very soon become a source of both, it could be allergy. But I tried all kinds of anti-allergic drugs including inhaled ones and nothing helps. I'm desperate...
Avatar universal
Is there a such thing as being allergic to the air conditioning, because every time we turn the air on in the car, house or anywhere our grandson, nose starts to run, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, drolling,We am giving him a asthma treatment everynight, but only helps short term. Should we have him tested.
Avatar universal
Hello Dears,

First of all, I am from Scandinavia so English is not my native but I hope you are still able to read my story.

I have been having some allergic symptoms in certain office buildings. I have a lot of common allergies, such as dust, strong chemicals, pollen, animals etc. But these symptoms which I get in certain office buildings  certainly differ from normal allergy and antihistamins are not efficient to them.

My symptoms: they begin after 30min-2hours, very dry and sticky eyes, dry nose, nose almost bleeding, dry and sore throath, sore bronciali, difficult to breath, flu-like symptoms, funny feeling in the head like brains were not working properly, difficult to concentrate, weird cough. After 2 to 3 days when not in these buildings symptoms completely gone.

At first I thought it was mold which causes this. But I have been studying a lot about it and it is not mold. It is an air conditioning.
Especially when the space is small and low, so the blowers are too close. When it is a bigger and higher place, no symptoms usually. Sometimes also then symptoms, if the AC is very strong.

I have found no medical cure to this. And I have tried almost everything from medication to acupuncture and ayurverda. Only thing that helps some amount is DUACT, which is antihistamin+pseudoefedrin and it reduces the swelling of mucous. So it helps breathing and reduces pain in bronciolis. But it does not help properly, but it makes beeing somewhat more reasonable.

So, my country is SO small that I really had to start to find some info in English and luckily I found at least some people who are also suffering from this.

I have to say that this really affects my career. I have been forced to change working places quite often, because of this. And now again I am in the difficult situation.

And of course when it is just a problem of very few, no one cares. Doctors don`t care and can`t help. People are angry at work places if I complain something like this. You know the additude.

I am also quite desperate. But I am lucky in that sense that I am usually fine in restaurants, cafes, airplanes, cars etc. But can I use them in the future if I can not work?  ;)

How is it going with Your work life?
Avatar universal
Hi everyone,

Here are my 2-cents: I live in Lima-Peru, and I also suffer a bad case of cold-like symptons whenever I am around an AC even for a short while. I feel that every year these symptons are getting even worse. I have found that the best cure for this is to put a hot water bag over my chest every night after I come back from the office (yeap, that´s where the dreaded AC is located!)..try it, the cold-like symptons will go away in less than 30 minutes, but unfortunately they will reappear next day once I step back into the office.

Avatar universal
Lately, I have become very sensitive to A/C.  When the cold air blows down my neck and back I begin to get a cold and tingly sensation down by back.  It lasts for hours.  I have tried Aleve, Advil and Tylenol to no avail.   If I get a good nights sleep, I wake up feeling OK.  But, if I come in contact with cold air it starts all over again.

I too am desperate.
Avatar universal
Hi ,

I am 26 years old and for last two years have been allergic to anything that is cold .
I feel like Air conditioning is killing me . My body temperature rises within 10 minutes of exposure to AC , nose become congested , breathlessness , headache and many other related problems starts to develop .

I cant eat anything cold even at 40 degrees .
Winters cause more problems . So its not particular to AC its to cold temperature .
Normally I take lot of sunlight to adjust my body temperature .

Life has become a joke of sorts , both at home and at office .
I've tried homeopathy and ayurveda but none has helped .

Please help if someone has some information .

Avatar universal
I lived at North Bihar in india till i was 25 , i noticed that pollen exposure in that area is very high and due to this reason i was having allergy for almost 15 yrs [from age 10 to 25]. The symptoms were the same as due to cold air. I was also prone to cold air allergy. But from past 10 yrs i am residing at western UP/NCR  region in india. Here i don't find pollen exposure and not affected in winter against cold air. I would tell from my experience that if you are able to avoid the allergic conditions for a prolonged time , you may be able to recover from it.
Avatar universal
please help,when i'm exposed to the air, dust, cool air, or etc...i began to get a feeling In my throat fell like a dust ball, I began coughing, none stop,i cant stop coughing until mucus comes up from  somewhere.
then the AC , my head began to throbe ach, I began gettin stuffed up with cold and mucus right away,I began coughing, I feel like Im looseing
my mind, because everything hit me at once!! I cant visit family because
of the AC, cant stay In the stores for a short period of time, cant ride In the car with family because of A C. some one please  help Im on my way to commiting  ????
Avatar universal
I have this problem as well, just like you describe...Cold winter temps always bothered me and what cause me to be sick with what I considered a cold for my whole life, but now in the last 1 1/2 it has gotten this way with AC to the point it really is affecting every area of life....I went to the movies the other night and had the cold air blowing from the ceiling in my face and was so sick yesterday, I thought I was dying....I finally had to bath with hot water and put hot washcloths over my entire face for about thirty minutes to bring it under some control.....What I learned last year from the ENT's and an allergy doctor was that it is called Vasomotor Rhinitis....my ENT has said that allergy can also make it worse....the turbinates in your nose most likely are swollen and they are not allowing the cold air temps to adjust to warmth before you breath it in....we have what is called turbinates, in our noses that are supposed to warm whatever temp our noses breath....I did notice when I started taking allergy injections in June, that it did seem to get a little better, but haven't had a shot for three weeks due to the grass seeding season here in VA....it caused me to have some wheezing in my left lung.... what I learned last year by way of a CT scan was that I had a deviated septum, and a nasal spur.....I saw about 3 different doctors on this subject and all had a different opinion of how or if to do correction surgery.....it seemed like they didn't want to do anything if I wasn't being treated at their office for allergies....I am scheduled to have this surgery on 9/8.....and hope it makes some difference....of course I will continue with allergy shots if I can....I did have a change in my environment just before all this got worse 1 1/2 yrs ago....changed residence, moved to a place they call allergy central.....
but on another note, my father had this same problem with AC and my sister has it as well.....I never knew what my father meant when he said he couldn't have AC in the house, I thought he was being stubborn.....my sister started telling me about 10 years ago, AC made her sick.....now at 52, it has affected me.....and like you, I cannot seem to live in a world of people who need cold blowing temps in the summer...when the AC is turned off, it gets better....so it almost makes me wonder if it a genetic thing with Vasomotor...which I pray it isn't, because doctors say there is no cure, and they give very little credence to the issue.....I can't imagine how I will be able to function in a world that seems to be turning the AC down further and further...there was a time when people tried to conserve energy, but stores, and all businesses in this town either having faulty ac units or they don't care about the electric bills anymore....either way, it makes it miserable for those of us with this....I would suggest going to a primary care to get a CT scan to see if there is a deviated septum issue....from my research into this, they can cause a lot of problems and make you a sick person....
Avatar universal
I was in Mississippi and Chicago this summer a teacher conferences....I was freezing and miserable most of the time....same thing in my city, New York.....Also I start coughing.

I am seriously thinking of beginning an anti-air condition movement. ..and Keep in mind that most places that have aircondition are not regulated...meaning..you either have to freezing and turning it off and sweating (which) I'd rather do..but the point is this makes the energy companies wealthier...since it has to be on all the way....you can't adjust it...Anyone interested in starting a movement against this madness...and what about going green.??

Avatar universal
I am 50 years young, the last few years I have had shortness of breath when I go out in cold. Then this year in March I started coughing any time I go to most doctor or  hospital buildings and when air is first turned on in other peoples cars. Here it is Nov. and I still have it! My throat gets dry yet my body produces a lot of thick clear sticky mucus that I can not get coughed up. A nebalizer treatment at one doctor let me cough up loads of flem but at home it does not work. I think they used a different med but the treatment is not recorded in my records at all so I do not know what they used.
allergy tests in 80's showed allergic to all kinds of things, dust, all trees, grasses, animals, molds, etc. tests done this month show allergic to dust, coach roaches (do not have any in house at this time) and some molds. I have had sinus problems on and off for years but nothing horrible except when pregnant. I have post nasal drip almost all the time. nose gets very dry and congested when ever I go any where outside or shopping, etc but able to blow it out. Only medicine I take every day is for hypothyroidism. I have been to 2 lung doctors, one said asthma, med's worked for a couple weeks then quit working,second one said allergies, sleep apnea, then throat problem sent me to allergist and ENT, ENT said he has no idea and he has had a few people who he sends to everyone and they never figure out anything to help, wants me to see a throat specialist just to get a second opinion.
I have had breathing tests done 4 times always showing normal, a sinus CT scan showing deviated septum but all sinuses clear and good even thou I have much pain in face. (dental problems?)
Have tried all kinds of sinus, allergy, asthma med's, nothing works more than a few days or weeks.
I can not avoid air conditioning. I am going thru change! I get very sick if I get hot. And the cough goes on..(song to the beat of And the beat goes on by Sunny and Cher)
I have all kinds of sensitivities to environmental things like chlorine, cleaning products, perfumes, diesel and some plastics with a lot of petroleum.
I have all kinds of medical things like:bowel problems, ears have fluid all the time, legs and feet swell real bad one worse than other one, nerve damage in back, leg, arm,wrist,  joint pain, weight gain,skin problems, tongue growth, feet and finger growth (thyroid med has brought blood tests to normal but I still have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism) teeth separating(all the symptoms of Acromegaly yet growth hormone is low not high) symptoms of brain tumor (head aches, forgetfulness, short and long term memory loss) but am to claustrophobic now to get MRI.
I have not had any blood transfusions
Does anyone else get horrible cold nose?
Is anyone else producing thick clear mucus?
Has anyone been tested for Cystic Fibrosis? My sons had all the symptoms when young, tests kept coming back in gray area, I have read many things that say today he would be diagnosed as having it yet they will not test me because I am not loosing wight I am gaining. I have found many people on Internet diagnosed with it that are gaining but docs will not listen.
Avatar universal
Wow, StuffyNoz has some wonderful information! I am wondering where you live and what doctor diagnosed you! Vasomotor Rhinitis sounds exactly what I have. 8 months, over 25 doctor appointments including allergists, Pulmonologists, and a ENT None of them ever mentioned this!  Many hundreds of dollars (thousands if you include insurance pay outs) not only deductibles but tests some repeated 5 times, wrong med's, and home machines,(and then the drives to Nashville for some of those docs, ...including a 7 hour day at Vandy's great(LOL) allergy center) I have once again had to find out on my own research what it is! I hope and pray I ministered to all those medical people in a Godly way! (I got quite angry after 7 hours and a few real rude people at Vandy allergy, but there is a time for everything) I now know Nashville very well!
Now, what is causing my Acromegaly symptoms?????????
Avatar universal
Well..I am a network engineer, and it happens I spend most of the time in server rooms. Fans blowing on my head, I felt ashamed to wrap myself in a hoodie, so I didn't, and I got very sick. I simply can't tolerate cold airflowes. We in Holland call it "tocht" I am not sure what the translation is in English. We may all think there is something wrong with us, but animals also get sick when they are exposed to "tocht". Airconditioning is simply very unhealthy unless well designed, and most are NOT. For instance, I can be at trader joes for a whole day and feel good. I can be at an office with bad airco and I get sick within 5 minutes. Because they airflow isn't balanced. "Tocht" means airflows developing too much speed, doesn't always mean cold airflows, it is related to the temperature difference and air flow speed. With other words, if it is 80F and you have an air flow of 80F with a speed of 200 miles an hour, it will be experienced as "tocht". Likewise, it it's lets say 30F and you have an airflow of 25 with a speed of 5 miles an hour, it will be experienced as "tocht" as well.

I don't understand how people can stand it. I started my new job a week ago, got very sick in the weekend, and it seems I have to quit because of this. Desperate? yes, because, what I am going to do??
Avatar universal
Ok, I'm one more lucky one. Air Conditioning is cousing cold-like / allergic reaction  symptons for me. It is becoming an serious isssue especialy after moving to the country where air con is everywhere. I can not even be in the office without getting those reactions. How I will continue working?

The major question which I have to all of you - has anybody found anything what helps?
I can see a lot of people complaining about this issue, however I do not see any solutions so far.

Has anybody tried anything from Azelastine series? Astelin as an example?
Avatar universal
Dear all,

I also have the same problems, as soon as I am in the cold AC for a few minutes I start feeling sick.  I actually just got very sick in the plane because they had a very cold AC with air blowing on top of my head, I have been sick for more than a week with running nose, headache, fever, very tired.  I always avoid going to the stores or at least I try to buy very fast and in the restaurants I try to always sit outside, but I agree with all of you, it is very hard to have a normal life in a country like the US where they use the AC constantly everywhere and people here seem to be used to it and if they do not have it they feel they cannot breath, so unhealthy.  I am originally from Europe and there I never got sick in my life.  I see that people have not found a solution for this problem yet....
Avatar universal
hallo, not sure how to describe my problem but it´s realted to the cold air from the aircon.

i have immediate affects when exposed to cold air from airconditioning. as soon as the aircon is on, i suffer from the cold air, regadles the distance i´m from it - whether it´s blowing straight on me or it´s in the furtherest corner of a huge room. i start having ear pain, sinuses pain, eye pain, blocked nose, sorethrought, headache, and a feeling like i had milions of needles stabing me everywhere inside my head, all my head is just freezing. i start having a big presure coming from my neck up to the head. i also feel totaly exhausted without any energy. i immediately notice when the aircon is on.

i also start ffeeling pain in my bones and joints in all my body. but this is not as intensive as the previous problem and occures only after some time spent in an aiconditioned room.

i dont have astma, only regualr alergies like to the indoor dust, some polen and some food.

i´m really desparate to find a help as this is creating a big problems especially at my work. i´m the only person, out of more 70, that has this problem and the rest just dont wanna believe me and thikns i´m just being difficult. people tend not to believe until they experience the problems themselvs.

in my private life it´s also not that easy as i have to avoid going indoors during summer time.

the paradox about my problem is that as i sufferred from cold weather in my home country, i moved to a hot southern one and suffer here even more ... :S

i will really appreciate any suggestion that helps. thank you. i look forward to hearing from you. have a nice day :)
Avatar universal
I also have problems with airconditioning but have different systems.  The soft pallet in the roof of my mouse swells up.  This happens whether airconditioning is on cold or heat.  It does not cause any running nose, itchy eyes etc..

When pallet swells up I then lose my voice and have problems breathing. If I take an anti-inflamatory this brings swelling down.  Now living in Florida in US and everywher is airconditioned and sealed.  At home I have a window slightly opened and this seems to help.

This sound familiar to anyone???
Avatar universal
I also have problems with airconditioning but have different systems.  The soft pallet in the roof of my mouse swells up.  This happens whether airconditioning is on cold or heat.  It does not cause any running nose, itchy eyes etc..

When pallet swells up I then lose my voice and have problems breathing. If I take an anti-inflamatory this brings swelling down.  Now living in Florida in US and everywher is airconditioned and sealed.  At home I have a window slightly opened and this seems to help.

This sound familiar to anyone???
Avatar universal
I nearly cried when I stumbled on this thread. I'm not a freak after all !!

People who I thought were my friends laugh at me when I'm all wrapped up in a fleece blanket in an auditorium, office, or restaurant.

I do not get the flu-like symptoms I'm reading about here. I just feel cold, my head pounds, my neck and joints ache, my eyes get dry (probably from being blown on), and worse of all, I FALL ASLEEP. I can't concentrate. My body simply shuts down. That REALLY amuses people.

I'm so sick of explaining myself to people. Telling them that NO, it's not the cold air that's bothering me, it's the BLOWING of cold air. I'm fine outside on a frigid winter day. But put me in a room with those horrible vents blasting arctic air straight down on my head...in a situation where I must remain seated (like at work) and cannot escape it...it is torture.

I surmised it might be a metabolism issue, so I tried taking a thyroid stimulating herbal supplement, and it helped marginally. Or it might have been desperation and power of suggestion that made me think it helped, I don't know. It contained iodine among other things. I wonder if there's something in that.
Avatar universal
Wow - when I visit my folks in South Carolina I always got sick from the air conditioning. I contributed it to either being in the pool and going directly inside as it was too hot to be outside without being in the pool. Here in Colorado I don't get flu like symptoms but when the AC is on and really cold like at my office or a store my face gets frozen and my skin on my face is extremely painful. It must be getting dry but no matter how much lotion and fish oil and coconut water I drink it still happens. The only option is to turn it down which is extremely challenging with other co-workers wanting it cooler. The only solution I can come up with is to find a job that doesn' t use air conditioning. I'm frustrated along with all of you about this crazy notion that summer inside needs to be at 50 degrees!
Avatar universal
Last year , I posted a post on this thread . Since then I've been on ayurvedic therapy . Its not that things have changed drastically .Though I can say thing have improved 15-20% . My resistance to cold air has increased . Earlier I used to have nasal blockage , feverishness , severe pain in legs , chest congestion etc on exposure to air conditioning as I mentioned in my post last year . Things have improved at least in nasal blockage and feverishness .
          I've been searching google , medhelp and many other communities to find more info on this . I was trying to find why and how this sort of allergy develops . At least I found one more person near to my place having the same allergy . We both have
1. Deviated nasal septum
2. post nasal drip
3. allergy to dust , pollution
4. Inclination towards hot ( food , drinks , weather ) from childhood .
5. disliking towards sour , spicy foods

In ayurveda they say it a vata-kapha imbalance leading to severe loss of energy and resulting in this kind of allergy ( my ayurvedic doctor says this :-) )
                 I've been still browsing internet , contacting different doctors just to get some info on this . ( knowing how frustrating and career challenging allergy is this ) .

I don't know how many have you similar symptoms , but thought of sharing this with you all . I am still not sure if at all we can overcome this allergy in lifetime  !

Requesting others also to share their experiences after any treatment ( or otherwise as well ).

Avatar universal
Ever since i was a young child EVERY time i went to the grocery store, in the frozen food section i would experience stomach cramps and have to run and find a restroom to have a bowel movement.  If i got to a warm section i would be fine and not have to go. I dont think that is allergy but i always wondered why.
Have an Answer?
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what causes asthma, and how to take control of your symptoms.
Find out if your city is a top "allergy capital."
Find out which foods you should watch out for.
If you’re one of the 35 million Americans who suffer from hay fever, read on for what plants are to blame, where to find them and how to get relief.
Allergist Dr. Lily Pien answers Medhelp users' most pressing allergy-related questions
When you start sniffling and sneezing, you know spring has sprung. Check out these four natural remedies to nix spring allergies.