Can Air Purifier Help With Headaches? (Or Cause One)

For some unknown reason, many people have been asking us this question lately: Can an air purifier help with a headache, or will it make it worse? Despite both being at 2 different spectrums, it is not difficult to understand why many are concerned about one or the other. This post will address the why and how, so you can use your air purifier with peace of mind. Let's begin.


The Air Purifier Headache Connection

An air purifier can help with a headache but only to a certain extent. It will remove the airborne pollutants that are causing it e.g. dust, mold, mildew, pollen, pet dander, asbestos, VOCs, radon, cigarette smoke, odor, ozone bacteria, and viruses. Whether it is a morning headache or a sinus headache, you will see gradual improvement without the allergens triggering it. Air purifiers also work well with any doctor’s prescription or over-the-counter pain relief. For the best result, leave an air purifier on 24 hours a day for continuous air cleaning. The indoor air quality will improve, and you will enjoy breathing clean, purified air for years to come.

There are four types of headaches, primary:

  • Migraine headache (pain with nauseating and visual change symptoms)
  • Tension headache (pain on forehead squeezing head feel)
  • Cluster headache (pain in and around one eye)
  • Sinus headache (pain behind browbone, cheekbones, nasal cavity)

What Causes Headaches?

There are many causes of headaches and migraine. Genetics, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, poor eating habit, dehydration, too much caffeine, smoking, and even fluorescent lighting could aggravate chronic pain.

Sinusitis can also lead to headaches triggered by an autoimmune disorder or airborne allergens that irritate mucous membranes in the sinus cavities.

There are four pairs of sinuses in the skull.

  • Frontal sinuses (surrounding the eyes)
  • Maxillary sinuses (surrounding the nasal cavity)
  • Ethmoid sinus (between the eyes)
  • Sphenoidal sinus

The membrane of the sinus cavity will swell and fill with fluid. The fluid presses the trigeminal nerves resulting in sinus headaches. Air purifiers can help with sinus problems and reduce the risk of rhinitis and subsequent headache.

The “Pretentious” Air Purifier

A mechanical air purifier that uses a HEPA filter will not cause a headache or make you sick. If you are experiencing symptoms such as headaches, migraines, sore throat, coughing, asthma attacks, chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, excessive ozone byproducts might be the root cause. An ozone generator or Ozonator is an electrical device that aggravates health issues by using high voltage to split oxygen molecules (O2) to create ozone molecules (O3). It is NOT an air purifier, not worth the money, and is not recommended by EPA, FDA, or any government agency. Long-term exposure to high amounts of ozone will exacerbate asthma, reduce lung capacity, and compromise the body’s immune system. Many people are confused that the distinct ozone smell is fresh air without realizing the danger. 

There are also non-filter-based electronic air purifiers that use UV light or ionization to clean the air. The ionizer electronically charges air molecules that fall and adhere to the surface area. UVGI or UV air purifiers release ultraviolet radiation to sterilize biological pollutants in the air. Both technologies are safe, but they will emit a low concentration amount of ozone, according to California Air Resources Board (CARB). A person with a weakened immune system may be susceptible to ozone, so stop using one if it triggers a headache.

There you have it. Not all air purifiers fit the bill, and the table below will give you a heads-up on which type of air purifiers you should buy and avoid.

Which Air Purifier Should I Get For Headaches?

Types Of Air PurifiersCan It Cause Headaches?Should I Buy One?
HEPA Air PurifierNOYES
Ionic Air PurifierNOIT DEPENDS
Electrostatic PrecipitatorsNOIT DEPENDS
Ozone GeneratorYESNO

Always go with a HEPA air purifier that is safe, effective, and best for your health with zero side effects. It uses a fan to draw air through a series of filters before releasing clean air. If you have Hyperosmia or are sensitive to smells, you will need a carbon filter with chemical adsorption materials. Likewise, if your headaches are due to dust mites, mold, pollen, and other allergens, you will need a True HEPA filter with a particle removal efficiency of 99.97% down to 0.3 micrometers. While at it, look for keywords like antibacterial/ antimicrobial coating that prevents pathogen growth. Last but not least, ensure the air purifier has a strong air-cleaning cycle that matches your requirement.

Final Thoughts

You need an air purifier more than you could ever imagine. While fixing the root cause of air pollution is a good approach, air purifiers are only one of the ways to avoid headaches. Resolving indoor pollution sources and biological contaminants plaguing your home can make a massive difference in the long run. Here are other alternative ways that you could also explore, such as:

  • Take prescribed antihistamines, paracetamol-based painkillers, migraine medication, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medications for instant relief.
  • Avoid exposing or inhaling the offending substances when possible for those with hypersensitivity.
  • Set a boundary for pets or keep it outside for those with a pet allergy. Do not chain them!
  • Avoid using perfumes or cologne for those with odor sensitivities.
  • Vacuum daily to reduce dust accumulation.
  • Ventilate your room and make sure HVAC systems are well-maintained.
  • Never smoke indoors, or better yet, quit smoking. Avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Maintain the right relative humidity level between 30% to 50%. Get a dehumidifier if the room humidity is high. Conversely, get a humidifier to remove excess moisture.
  • Eat healthy, exercise, and sleep well.

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.
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