Do your joints hurt when a storm’s coming? You have the change in barometric pressure to thank — though your joints aren’t the only part of your body affected by the weather.
In fact, the weather’s impact on your body and the natural world is so varied, there’s a whole scientific study devoted to it: biometeorology. It’s a small, but diverse field of atmospheric scientists who study how — and why — the weather impacts animals, plants and humans. From changing symptoms of existing diseases, contributing to new conditions and prompting temporary physiological changes inside your body, the weather’s effect on your health is far-reaching.
When atmospheric pressure decreases, your blood pressure drops, biometeorologist Jennifer Vanos, P.h.D., said in an interview with weather.com. Low temps cause your blood vessels to narrow, meaning on the whole, blood pressure is lower in the summer.
Self-harm has a season, according to biometeorologist Grady Dixon, P.h.D., who studies the weather and emotional health. Suicides spike in the late spring and early summer while overall, sour moods are more likely on cold, cloudy days.
Changing seasons and hot weather can exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms, with the growing season and air pollution paying a serious role. The fix? Be prepared with your allergy meds before spring weather arrives.
Sudden changes in barometric pressure, such as the switch that occurs right before a storm, can trigger joint pain. Cold weather can also cause painful changes in joint fluid thickness, some research has found.
Barometric pressure can be a headache for some, though the reason is unclear. It might affect the pressure in the brain or the way the brain blocks pain, or it might be evolutionary, as it keeps humans in tune with their environment.
As the days get longer, the additional exposure to bright light often triggers migraines. Pollen can also trigger headache for people with allergies.
Any front is associated with low pressure, so during cold fronts, blood viscosity, or thickness, increases, Vanos said. “Diabetics will have more trouble controlling their blood sugar during cold fronts,” she said.
When you’re out in the cold, your body’s “good” brown fat activates, which burns calories (the other type of fat, white fat, does not contribute to a calorie burn). Exercising when it’s hot doesn’t burn more calories, however.
Each 1.8 degree Fahrenheit the temperature drops is associated with around 200 additional heart attacks nationwide, according to a study in BMJ. Higher blood pressure, an increased risk of blood clots and challenging activities like shoveling snow contribute to the risk.
Hot, humid weather can make breathing difficult, particularly for people with preexisting lung conditions. Air pollution, which is worse when it’s hot, also plays a role.
Many people swear they contract the common cold when the weather changes, Vanos said. Although it’s not entirely clear why, experts believe it’s because rapid temperature swings weaken your immune system. The cold virus also transmits better in cold air.
People with ADHD are more likely to develop seasonal affective disorder, some studies have found. Plus, sunny regions are less likely to have a high number of ADHD patients.
When barometric pressure, or the weight of the air pressing down on the surface of the earth, changes, many people feel it acutely in their sinuses.
Source: The Weather Channel