When it’s cold and raining one day, and dry and warm the next, does the changing weather make you feel sick, crazy, ill, achy, or all of the above? If so, you are quite normal.
Changes in weather systems can have a lot of effects on the human body and brain. A lot of the science on how weather affects health focuses on static weather states: cold temperatures, rain, hot weather, and so on. But it’s when the weather systems are changing that the implications for our bodies get really interesting. Weather, after all, is rarely in one state for a long period of time and the shifts between states have consequences for our sinuses, joints, hearts, and lungs.
One big culprit is air pressure: an increase in air pressure (a rising barometer) means better weather, while a drop means cold and rain. But temperature is a culprit too; we’re acutely sensitive to shifts in heat and cold, and our body reacts accordingly.
Okay so we don’t get cold snaps, chills and alike in Bali, but enough of us fly across the globe exposing ourselves to extreme changes in weather over relatively short periods of time.
So here are the ways in which fluctuations in weather may be exacerbating your health conditions and making your life a bit miserable:
- Barometric Pressure And Rising Heat Cause Migraines
It seems that that falling barometers and sudden temperature shifts are genuine migraine triggers, (my Mother swore by this!). Approaching hot weather in particular appears to be a serious problem: for every nine degree temperature increase in Fahrenheit, the risk of a migraine among sufferers apparently increases by 7.5 percent. Frequent migraine sufferers sometimes require steady climates without significant change, to reduce the nasty possible effects of swift weather alterations.
- Heart Attacks And Asthma Are Linked To Cooling Weather
Cold weather in itself is a poor time for heart problems, because cold weather narrows blood vessels and restricts blood flow. Studies show that we can actually track the likelihood of heart attacks in a certain areas by tracking the environment’s lowering of temperature. These studies show that a drop in daily temperature by as little as one degree Celsius corresponded with an additional 200 heart attacks. Heart attack specialists probably keep a close eye on the dropping thermometer.
When it comes to asthma, it seems that the shift itself is actually the problem. Fast-dropping temperatures (for instance before a thunderstorm) can wreak havoc on asthma sufferers, as a sudden shift that cools the airways very fast apparently exacerbates asthma symptoms. One study found a three percent increase in asthma hospital visits on days following thunderstorms. Moving between indoor cold air-conditioned spaces and outdoor warm weather can also have this effect.
- Shifting Barometric Pressure Might Cause Joint Pain And Headaches
Barometric pressure drops in colder weather, and the downward shift in pressure is theorized to cause the soft tissues of the body to expand very slightly, causing pain from increased pressure in arthritic, sensitive joints.
When it comes to barometric pressure and headaches, it appears that the problem is a difference in pressure between the air on the inside of the head and the outside. The resulting pressure gap can cause significant sinus pains and engender head-splitting aches.
- Barometric Pressure Also Worsens Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a particularly terrifying condition where the body actually stops breathing during sleep, due to muscular collapse on the airways or some kind of airway blockage.
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, since the most common treatment for sleep apnea is to wear a CPAP device or mask, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The mask’s air is calibrated to be slightly higher in pressure than the outside atmosphere, which keeps airways open.
- Blood Sugar
Diabetics can have more trouble controlling their blood sugar during cold fronts. Blood viscosity, or thickness, increases during cold fronts, making it more difficult to keep blood sugar at stable levels.
So it’s worthwhile doing more regular blood sugar checks during extreme weather changes.
That steamy feeling that washes over you when you step outside is all thanks to the humidity in the air. It can wreak havoc on your body when you’re trying to stay cool. With all of that sweat that your body is pumping out, you’re losing water, salt and minerals.
As if all of that weren’t enough to leave you feeling exhausted, humidity can also wreak havoc on your sinuses, as high humidity causes both dust mite populations and mold colonies to grow.
- Do changes in weather give you a cold or weaken your immune system?
No. Temperature changes do not create more colds or weaken the immune system. Warming or cooling weather can create problems, but it’s not responsible for the viruses themselves or your susceptibility to them. The cold/ flu virus can replicate more rapidly at colder temperatures, so you’re more likely to get ill once temperatures drop and stabilize there.
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Copyright © 2017 Kim Patra
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