Does Your Health Depend Upon The Weather?

Weather Talk
Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 1:54pm

Your Biological Forecast Is Related With The Meteorological Forecast

I get people coming up to me  all the time saying “I know the weather is going to change because my bum knee hurts, or my back aches. I used to laugh it off and say “give me a call next time to help me out with my forecast. Then, I found out there is actually some truth to all that.! Estefania a friend and former co worker has extreme pain in her knee, every time a cold front or low pressure system is headed our way. That reminds me, I owe her lunch for all her weather alerts!

Weather does have an impact on our health, especially during these winter months. The weather actually affects or body and biology all day and all night as it the elements  continuously apply stress. Our bodies are ideal weather forecasters. Your joint and muscle aches, headaches, moods and even your heart are much more impacted by weather changes than you might think. We must build up our defenses take care of ourselves or we risk exposure to the health challenges brought about by the weather.

In today’s “Weather Talk” I am going to show you that the colder temperatures, changing barometric pressure and less available sunlight during this cold time of year.

First let us talk about the impact of the cold air on our body. Your mom always used to say” Come back here and put on a jacket or you will catch a cold!” She actually was and is correct with her to the point analysis. Viruses especially the flu virus love and flourish in cold temperatures. That is we call it the “flu season”. The lungs have a harder time doing their job in the cold, dry air. The cold air produces small cracks in the bronchial tubes in your lungs causing them to fill up with fluid and making it more difficult to breath. When you’re exposed to the cold your blood thickens up and your blood pressure rises. That is why statistically there are 50% more heart attacks in the winter. Every year you see on TV  groups of scantlly clad people who plunge into icy cold water for fun! They are actually putting themselves in this thicker blood/heart attack danger.  No "polar bear" clubs for me!

Did you know that the dropping of the air pressure can result in sinus headaches? The falling barometer or lower pressure is going to cause sinus pain in people that have infected or inflamed sinuses. The pain is more intense in those who have chronic sinus problems. The air pressure is constantly rising and falling depending on the passage of low pressures systems or the building of high pressure over a region. There is pressure pushing on our bodies and pressure pushing from the inside out at all times. The standard atmospheric pressure is 14.6 ponds per square inch on our bodies. This constant external and internal pressure keeps our bodies from falling apart, so to speak. This pressure increases when we are under water and slightly decreases when we are flying in an airplane. Just the smallest pressure changes can be felt in all of our joints. Knees seem to be the most sensitive because they act like suction cups. The aches and pains of the hips and shoulders can also be good indicators of the pressure dropping. If you imagine the tissues surrounding the joints to be like a balloon, high barometric pressure that pushes against the body from the outside will keep tissues from expanding. But barometric pressure often drops before bad weather sets in. This lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing tissues to expand and those expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint, in turn resulting in pain. Arthritis and Rheumatism sufferers know what I am talking about! Time for some aspirin, find your ace bandage, grab a cold compact and also send me an email at cdebroder@ktsm.com and give me an early warning of the storm system headed our way!

Do you feel more tired than usual in the afternoon? Do you tend to experience more than usual bouts with depression? Here I am sounding like a prescription drug commercial! The lack of sunlight during the winter months can and do cause many health problems. On December 21st, the winter solstice, there is the least amount of light because it is the shortest day of the year. Why does this happen? The origin is a small gland in our brain called the Pineal Gland. This gland is our internal light sensor. This Pineal gland senses light whether we are sleeping or awake. Closing our eyes makes no difference. When the sunlight is gone the gland produces a hormone melatonin. The hormone makes us sleepy, which is ideal for getting a good night’s rest. The problem is the more melatonin you produce, the less serotonin your brain produces leading to depression. This is why there are more people in cranky or negative, gloomy moods in the cold season. Sometimes these emotions or moods can become extreme and that is a good time to seek some professional advice. Taking a few days off to go chase the sun or buying a nice bight light can help lighten our moods.

Now you know what your body is going to be up against health and weather wise the next time you see the 7 day forecast. We can take precautions to help lessen our sinus or joint pain, be more heart health conscious and even elevate our mood! We can protect ourselves with small steps like wearing the appropriate clothing and by grabbing a warm enough coat or even having an umbrella handy. We now know that the colder temperatures, changing barometric pressure and less available sunlight are three things that are affect especially winter season.  I love that weather impacts ever aspect of our lives and I really enjoyed researching and writing this “Weather Talk” because I have been through my own health challenges the past couple of years. Here is wishing you an excellent forecast in protecting your health and body from the elements!

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX
cdebroder@ktsm.com
www.facebook.com/pages/Charles-DeBroder/
www.twitter.com/ Chuck DeBroder NC9 @wxchuckNC9

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