4 Reasons Why You Get Headaches When the Heater is On

October 14, 2021
Written by HVAC Link

Have you ever asked yourself “Why do I get headaches when the heater is on?” Have you noticed you tend to get more headaches in the winter months? Is it possible your headaches seem to be triggered when you turn your heater on? Can central heating make you cough or cause a sore throat? Here we explain the connection between your HVAC system and headaches, with four reasons why you could be getting headaches and other symptoms like cough and sore throats when your heater is on. 

1. Dehydration: Can Dry Heat Cause headaches? 

If you find your home is very dry in the winter, it could contribute to headaches. This is because a dry environment can increase the risk of dehydration. When your home is very dry, the air around you will actually take moisture out of your body. If you aren’t drinking enough water to make up for that moisture loss, it can cause headaches. That is why many HVAC systems include a humidifier to help keep the air moist.  

However, if your home is not well sealed, cold dry winter air can also enter your home through windows, doors, cracks and leaky HVAC ductwork keeping your home dry all winter long. If you do experience headaches when your heater is on, you can test your air for humidity levels using a digital hygrometer. You can find them at your local hardware store, but many thermostats actually include a hygrometer. Ideally, your home should be between 40% and 50%. If it’s lower than 30%, chances are your headaches are due to dehydration and it’s time to speak to your HVAC expert about a humidifier. 

Are you looking to speak with an HVAC professional? Look no further. Contact our team at HVAC Link today.

2. Indoor Pollutants: Can the Furnace Cause Allergies? 

Your indoor air can have pollutants that come into your home from outside, but also emitted from items inside your home from furniture to flooring and paint to cleaning products. Your heating system also cycles air from outside that can contribute to pollutants. Pollutants can make you sick and give you headaches.  

You can have your HVAC system checked twice a year to make sure it is in working order to help it control indoor pollutants. You can also make sure you are using the right filters to capture airborne particles that can make you sick, and change them monthly in the winter when the system is running more often. Central heating allergy symptoms include coughing, sore throat, itchy eyes, headaches and more. 

3. Pet Dander 

Although not directly related to your heater, as mentioned above, your heater does cycle air in the home. If you have pets, dander can be in the air leading to headaches and allergy symptoms. The best heating system for allergy sufferers has an air filtration system to support your heater’s air filtering abilities. This way it captures more particles that can cause allergies and headaches. 

4. Carbon Monoxide 

Malfunctions as well as faulty furnace installation can release deadly carbon monoxide into your home. Because it is odourless, it is impossible to detect. One of the signs of carbon monoxide exposure is headaches, along with dizziness and nausea. Symptoms worsen with prolonged exposure leading to drowsiness, disorientation and blurred vision.  

It is very important to leave the home and call 911 if you experience a progression of these symptoms. If you don’t call soon enough you can suffer seizures and become unconscious. The best way to avoid issues with carbon monoxide is to have an annual fall check of your heater to look for issues and be sure to replace your old furnace should your technician advise it is necessary due to leaks. Also, install carbon monoxide detectors in your home and change the batteries every fall. 

As the cooler weather is upon us, many of us will be turning on our heating systems. This can lead to struggling with headaches. Give our team at HVAC Link a call today to learn more about how you can avoid the annoying and potentially dangerous symptoms of using your heater.

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