Impact Of Weather On Our Health
Several health problems like joint pain, headache and so on often gets blamed on the weather. Something that is increasingly becoming a subject of interest for scientists who are trying to unravel the mysteries behind health woes and how weather can be responsible for it.
This article tries to explore whatever is known so far about the impact that weather pattern can have on our health and how well it can be minimized.
What causes Allergies: Pollen or the Weather
Spring is the time when lots of pollen float heavy in the air, leading to fits of sneezing, more so for those who are allergic to pollen. In fact, people who suffer from allergic reactions to pollen often see an upswing in their health woes that may include stuffiness and even breathing problems – something that can pose serious health risks. Studies have also shown a sharp increase in the number of emergency room visits by children as well as adults during spring, generally the time when pollen count shows a sharp increase.
Most people tend to blame pollen grains for every allergic reaction they suffer, when it’s the weather that is the actual culprit. Since it’s all too common to be affected with non-allergic rhinitis during sudden changes of temperature and humidity, which is much unlike allergic rhinitis. People diagnosed with nonallergic rhinitis would not give a positive result for any specific allergy test.
Its all too easy to mistake allergic rhinitis for nonallergic rhinitis since both of them occur around the same time of the year and exhibit similar symptoms like swollen nasal passages and congestion along with incessant sneezing. However, treatment for both is not the same. For instance, antihistamines is not going to work for those who are affected with nonallergic rhinitis, though this is what most resort to, only to discover later it’s not producing desired results.
A common way to treat nonallergic rhinitis is to use decongestants or nasal steroids to normalize swelling in the nasal passage, or to undergo nasal irrigation which involves a saline solution that is sprayed into the nose. However, many prefer a more natural and safe remedies for rhinitis.
Cold Weather or Thunderstorms Can Lead to Asthma Attacks
There are a variety of factors that people who suffer from asthma should be wary of, with weather being one of them since all of these can cause inflammation of the airway, thereby causing an asthma attack. For those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma, cold weather can spell trouble since when the breathing is fast, there is very little time for the air to get warmed up. This results in the airway to cool significantly, which in turn causes the airway to react by swelling.
Asthma patients should also watch out for thunderstorms, particularly those who consider pollen grains as a prime cause of asthmatic attacks. As has been pointed out in the journal Allergy, strong winds during thunderstorms carry pollen grains at ground level that often gets deposited at the lower parts of the airway. This contributes to a significant increase in the number of asthma patients rushing to hospitals for treatment.
Effect of Weather Changes on Migraine Headaches
A drop in barometric pressure is accompanied with a sharp increase in humidity and a sudden decline of temperature – a perfect setting for inciting migraines in people who are prone to them. On the other hand, stable weather conditions acts as a deterrent to the occurrence of migraine. For instance, a change of location from New York to Arizona, which has a uniform weather pattern along with warm dry air in comparison to what New York experiences, that is sudden changes in humidity and temperature, can ensure vastly reduced number of migraine attacks. Research too has proved the role of weather in promoting migraines, with some 53% of the migraine sufferers polled pointed to weather being the biggest trigger.
However, going for a change of location in order to keep a cap on migraine is not feasible for everybody. So perhaps the next best thing for them to do is to maintain a list of their migraines so that they can figure out cause-and-effect connections. And if the role of weather seems to figure prominently, then the next logical step will be a visit to your doctor to discuss pre-treatment, so that the pain can be avoided as much as possible.
Chilly, Damp Weather Promotes Pain in Joints
Though migraine patients may not be open to the idea of relocating to seek better health, those who suffer from joint aches have been found to be doing just that, moving to warmer locales to ease pain in their joints, with it being more common among the elderly. Research work in this area has also indicated a strong link between change of weather and significant rise in arthritic pain in the weight bearing joints. In fact, a staggering 80 to even 90% of patients have reported a marked change in their pain’s intensity and sensitivity since baseline pain is easily affected by change in humidity and a decline of temperature.
General recommendation by experts is to get involved in some non-weight bearing exercises to reduce load on their joints and promote better joint function. This is in addition to the usual practice of countering joint pain, like using heating pads over painful regions and an increase in analgesic intake. However, apart form these, there’s not much that can be done.
Heart Risk Increases During Extreme Temperature
Heart patients need not be too bothered of extreme activities like bungee jumping or even deep-sea diving, but shoveling snow is a strict no-no for them. People who suffer from heart disease have coronary arteries that may have narrowed down significantly. With that, the additional exertion brought about by shoveling snow can make things worse, like a heart attack that can even be life threatening.
Extreme heat is another factor that they should watch out for, since for those with heart diseases, it might be all the more difficult to regulate the body’s core temperature. People tend to forget they suffer from heart diseases and then, suddenly they are sweating profusely and dehydrated, things that contributes to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Old age is the harbinger of heart related diseases, with people being more susceptible to it once they are past 65. This is because at this age, its hard work for the thermoregulatory system of the body to keep things under control and balanced. The heat wave that hit Chicago in 1995 bears testimony to this fact, since of the 465 heart related deaths that occurred, more than half of them were above the age of 75.
However, that does not spare those who may not be heart patients, since none is immune to its effects. Take the instance of Corey Stringer, an All-Pro linesman for NFL who died due to heat stroke caused by extreme high temperatures and humidity at the age of 27. This should be proof enough that taking precautions against weather extremes should be everyone’s priority, whether or not they are vulnerable to it.