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How the Weather Affects Your Health

How the Weather Affects Your Health

by Manfred Kaiser

Do you feel tired or exhausted? Do you suffer from a headache? Why don't you blame the weather? Millions claim that the weather literally gets onto their nerves - and rightly so. Whether we like it or not, you and I are part of nature. We are not robots but biological beings, evolved over millions of years. Despite technology's great efforts to detach us from nature, we are still subject to it, including the weather. Just because there is only limited scientific proof that weather sensitivity exists doesn't mean that you are wrong and doesn't mean that the medical profession should dismiss your plight as a psychological disorder. The sheer number of worldwide sufferers won't be ignored any longer and science is slowly catching up.

A weather-sensitive person reacts with varying intensity to changes in weather elements, such as air pressure, temperature and humidity. These changes can affect a person's well-being and may worsen the symptoms of existing disorders, in particular pain. Some of the effects are: increased irritability and aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, listlessness, fatigue, lack of concentration, sleep disorders, headache and migraine, heart and circulation irregularities, nausea, dizziness, scar pain or phantom pain, and rheumatic pain.

The symptoms vary from person to person and their intensity generally increases with age, lower level of fitness and a body weakened due to illness. Of course, they can also mask or be the result of an underlying disorder that has nothing to do with weather. Therefore, see your doctor if uncertain of the cause.

When my grandfather's rheumatic knee hurts; we will get rain. Many people trust their hips and knees and forecast the weather almost as accurately as can the meteorologists with their supercomputers. But why do some people respond to weather and others don't?

Rapid and frequent weather changes appear to be the main culprits. Weather-sensitive people become irritated a day or two before the change and are often miserable when a weather front arrives. The conditions favor childbirth, so a greater number of babies have their first glimpses of their parents during those weather conditions. Cases of suicides, heart attacks, bleeding ulcers, headaches and migraines all increase. Rheumatics dread the arrival of cold and damp weather, while cold and dry air aggravates asthma symptoms. Expanding air in isolated body cavities may explain some weather-sensitivity symptoms. The weather fronts have something for everybody, it seems.

Some scientists take a different approach in their quest to solve the puzzle. They believe that electromagnetic impulses have an effect on our well-being. Natural electromagnetism, strong enough to cause weather sensitivity, is present in lightning-induced atmospherics (sferics) and charged particles (ions).

What can you do about weather sensitivity? It is likely that we all benefit from the frequent stimulation of changing weather. The modern lifestyle, with air conditioners, humidifiers and heaters, however, blunts the weather 'shocks'. In other words, we are no longer trained to cope with weather stress. Therefore, the best advice is to harden your senses by exposing them to the elements. Spend more time outdoors, in all kinds of weather. European medical professionals go even further and recommend stronger stimulants, such as saunas or alternating hot and cold showers.

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