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Can Cold Air Cause a Dry Cough?

Can Cold Air Cause a Dry Cough?

Is Your AC the Reason for Your Cough?

Current concerns over viruses and communicable sicknesses have really changed the way people deal with the symptoms of an illness, such as coughing and sneezing. A cough or sneeze can travel quite a distance in the air, this is why wearing a mask in public and practicing good social distance can do a lot to keep you and your community safe and healthy.

Still, it can be hard to show any signs of illness in public without strangers assuming you're carrying the virus, and this can be particularly aggravating for people who regularly cough easily due to cold or dry air. Additionally, with seasonal allergies, even a minor sneeze can be misconstrued. In this article, experts cover the common causes of coughing and what you can do to improve your air quality.

What Causes a Cough?

Because most viruses and illnesses cause respiratory issues, one of the main symptoms of these conditions is a cough. But coughing can be caused by a variety of situations, some of them temporary, and some of them permanent. Some of the other more common reasons for coughing can include:

  • If the person is a smoker.
  • Someone who has asthma may cough regularly.
  • Drinking liquid going down an airway instead of the esophagus.
  • Clearing the throat due to allergies.
  • Dust or pollen prone spaces can lead to coughing.
  • Some medications can cause coughing.
  • Acid reflux disease or GERD.
  • Post-nasal drip.
  • Cold and dry air.


The last one is an aspect that is often overlooked by people, but cold-induced asthma is not an uncommon occurrence.

Cold air can cause a person to cough because when the cold air reaches a person's airway, the lungs will automatically react by tightening.

And because cold air typically has less moisture in it, it can dry out the airways, which can cause them to spasm. This can trigger an asthma attack which can lead to coughing. As you can see, though, there are plenty of reasons why a person may cough and not all of them are related to illness.

How Does an AC Impact a Cough?

home temperature

In the summer, it's common for many homes to crank up their air conditioner in an attempt to keep cool. But the air conditioner can also exacerbate coughing spells as well.

Sometimes this is due to poor air quality due to a dirty or clogged HVAC filter, or increased spread of allergens, but sometimes this is due to the setting you choose on your thermostat.

Many air conditioners have two basic settings that many homeowners don't understand how to use: ON and AUTO. There is a difference, though, and understanding them may help alleviate coughing episodes. ON means your AC fan is constantly blowing even when your AC system isn't currently working to heat or cool the air.

AUTO means the fan only turns on when your system is heating or cooling the air. If you find yourself coughing more frequently when your AC is running, try experimenting with different settings to see which one works best for you. Additionally, adjusting temperatures can also help lower your energy costs, a win-win for any homeowner.

Humidity Can Help


The level of humidity in your home is often overlooked when it comes to reasons for coughing, but humidity can have as much, or even more, bearing on personal comfort than the temperature.

In some cases, humidity needs can be met with a portable humidifier. But if you have dry air throughout your home, that causes chronic coughing, it may be worth adding a whole-house humidifier.

Besides helping alleviate coughing, adding humidity can also come with some of the following benefits:

  • Relieving Irritated Sinuses
  • Decreasing Dry Skin
  • Cutting Down on Excessive Snoring
  • Eliminating Sore Throats
  • Reducing Cracked Lips and Nose Bleeds

You can experiment with a portable humidifier to see if it helps your coughing, and if it does, then maybe consider a whole-home humidifier for your space for long term comfort.

Call Your Local Experts

Snappy Electric, Plumbing, Heating, & Air are your Marietta, GA plumbing and HVAC specialists. Your home's happiness is their #1 priority. Family owned and operated; they'll only suggest services for your residence that they would advise for their own families. They offer fast high-quality service and they do it all with a smile.