Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Does the weather affect your health?

Some people claim they can predict the weather by physical changes in their bodies.  Have you ever heard of the grandmother who knew when it was going to storm because her hip was aching? Or the coworker who always got headaches when there was a dramatic change in the temperature?

As someone who experiences migraines, I have always been curious about this connection.  According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have migraines appear to be more sensitive to changes in the weather. Weather-related triggers include:
  • Bright sunlight
  • Hot or cold temperatures
  • High humidity
  • Dry air
  • Windy or stormy weather
  • Barometric pressure changes
Apparently weather changes can wreak havoc with the balance of brain chemicals. One in particular is serotonin, which can prompt a migraine. Weather-related triggers also may worsen a headache caused by other triggers. It’s a vicious cycle!

Weather parameters known to affect health include humidity, barometric pressure and temperature. They can trigger migraine, asthma, arthritis or heart disease.

Linking weather to your health is not a new discovery.  The InternationalSociety for Biometeorology was founded in 1956 to connect scientists interested in the subject. 

It wasn’t until 1986 that Dr. John Bart, a medical practitioner in Toronto, took it a step further.
He noticed that patients were having similar complaints on the same days. Wondering if weather could be the common factor, he asked one of his patients, meteorologist Denis Bourque, if evidence for such a link existed. Mr. Bourque was intrigued by the possibility.

After much research the two found that, in fact, much European literature supported the weather health theory. From this, Bart and Bourque set out to develop an index that would map specific weather conditions known to trigger health. The results of their work are 14 distinct categories of weather known to affect health. was born.

MediClim can warn people when they are most susceptible to flare ups from migraine, asthma, arthritis or heart disease. You can check it out here.

So what can we do? We obviously can't change the weather. However, we can learn which weather changes are troublesome and take steps to lessen their effects:
  • Keep a diary for your headache, arthritis, allergy or other ailment, listing each symptom, when it happened, how long it lasted and what could have caused it. This can help you determine if you have specific weather triggers.
  • Monitor weather changes and avoid triggers if at all possible. For example, stay indoors during very cold or windy weather if these factors appear to trigger your issues.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices — eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and keep your stress under control. These factors can help reduce your inflammation and improve your overall health.


Robyn Jones said...

Great post. I live in Washington state where we can go 90 days of rain and heavy clouds. We get one sunny day and you see skin everywhere you look. No matter the temps people are down to tank tops and shorts to celebrate clear skies. Weather affects, our health our moods, our motivation levels.

armond smith said...

I am really impressed by the way you detailed out everything. It is really going to help me a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so clearly. Thanks for sharing this post.

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