How Does the Weather Affect Your Health?
We all have that one relative who swears his knee always hurts when the weather is about to take a turn for the worse, and as it turns out, there may be something to those claims. The weather actually has more of an effect on our health and well-being than most of us realize. Although residents of Frankford, Delaware, have experienced firsthand the challenges of various extremes — from summer heat waves to winter blizzards — we can all benefit from knowing a little more about how the weather affects us.
The Weather and Your Body
First, there are a few general ways in which certain weather conditions affect everyone. For instance, your blood pressure will probably be lower in the summer, when warmer temperatures cause your blood vessels to dilate. Blood pressure can also be affected by sudden changes in atmospheric pressure, humidity, and other weather-related factors, but the effects will be more pronounced in older adults.
Another good example is joint pain. A sudden shift in barometric pressure (which, sure enough, occurs right before a storm) can cause joint pain to flare up. Cold temperatures can also make joint pain worse, causing many with arthritis to move to warmer climates. Others respond to barometric changes with headaches or sinus pain. If you notice this happens a lot, be sure to keep an eye on local weather conditions and forecasts so you’ll know when to expect trouble.
The Weather and Medical Conditions
Of course, if you suffer from asthma, allergies, and other medical conditions, the weather can affect you in more serious and specific ways. Much like joint pain, migraines are often triggered by sudden changes in the weather, from drops in barometric pressure or temperature to increases in humidity. Even summer sunshine can be a trigger thanks to additional hours of bright light. Knowing your triggers can help you plan ahead and discuss pretreatment options to head off pain before it starts.
Asthma and allergies may get worse during seasonal changes, especially during spring, and during thunderstorms, when the pollen-laden wind causes problems for those with respiratory conditions. Many also find that hot, humid weather makes it harder to breathe. Fortunately, you can help alleviate allergy symptoms by limiting the time you spend outdoors and improving your home’s indoor air quality. You may even want to invest in a home performance evaluation, which will help you find and seal any cracks or holes that are letting allergens enter your home.
The Weather and Mental Health
Last but not least, you can expect the weather to impact your mental and emotional health. One familiar example is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which tends to affect those living in colder climates. The most common theory is that lack of exposure to bright, natural light causes SAD. Winter days are shorter, especially as you get closer to the poles, which means less sunlight. The mental health problems that accompany SAD are debilitating, making it difficult for those affected to get out of bed in the morning — let alone keep up with their usual routines.
Keep in mind that SAD is a relatively rare condition, only diagnosed in about 5 percent of the population. Although unpleasant weather may affect your happiness, it’s much more likely to make a bad mood worse than to ruin your day all by itself. Still, people living in temperate climates do tend to rank their own happiness higher than those who experience extreme weather. “Winter blues” or “cabin fever” can cause a low mood, decreased productivity, and less energy during cold months. Similarly, the extra heat and sunshine of summer can leave you agitated and unable to sleep well.
Think the weather may be making your family’s allergies or asthma worse? Call Custom Mechanical at 877-696-0808 to schedule an indoor air quality evaluation today. There are a variety of HVAC add-ons that can help mitigate some of the effects that weather has on your health. We can also help you improve your home’s insulation and seal against pollen and other allergens to help you breathe easier no matter what the season.
Image provided by Shutterstock