We have to admit that mother nature has been upping her game recently; hurricanes, tropical storms, fires and earthquakes… even without these natural disasters, every season of the earth’s rotation brings new weather patterns.
Have you ever stopped to think about how the weather may be affecting your health?
“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self. Cos I’m bad for your health, I come real stealth…” –Ice Cube
Ice Cube has got it right. When it comes to our health we must stay aware of all aspects of our environment, internal and external, and this includes what the sky looks like out your window every morning.
Not that we as individuals have much control what nature will bring us, but the more in-tune we are to our own bodies as they fit into the world around us, the better clarity we will have as to our well being. Knowledge equals power to make the best informed choices for us.
Here are a few awareness tid-bits on how changes in our surrounding climate may stealthily sneak up on us:
Sudden temperature changes, humidity changes, smog and smoke in the air:
- Can cause allergy-like symptoms= sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, nosebleeds, ear infections, fatigue; also associated with asthma and sinusitis (inflamed sinuses).
- How to prevent, help, or not make these unwanted affects worse during these times= avoid alcohol, spicy foods, polluted air, cleaning chemicals, and scented products; rinse sinuses with saline solution as desired.
- NOTE: there weather-related symptoms have nothing to do with the immune system, however they mimic actual allergy or cold symptoms so be mindful of which you may be experiencing!
Cold weather or sudden drops in temperature:
- Can be hard on the heart, as the body works to regulate your body temperature.
- Avoid vigorous activity in the cold, especially if you have heart disease.
- Keep indoor temperatures at 64-75 degrees Fahrenheit (World Health Organization).
- Can cause joint stiffness and pain.
- Avoid weight –bearing activities during these times, or seek a warmer environment if pain persists.
Sudden weather changes; thunderstorms, rain storms, windstorms and the like:
- Can cause headaches and migraines due to barometric pressure changes.
- If you make the connection between the weather and your headaches, do your best to avoid up and down swings in weather by finding a consistent climate to live, work or play.
There is also a condition called Seasonal Effective Disorder that is worth noting. This condition includes experiencing poor mood or negativity, irritability, extreme fatigue, change in appetite, or just pure sadness, when the seasons change. There is controversy over why this occurs; some studies show drops in the production of hormone serotonin when days get shorter and darkness comes sooner, however it can also occur throughout the summer months as well. The best remedy is to spend time outside each day in the daylight, no matter the season, as the light and fresh air has been shown to boost serotonin levels, energy and happiness. It may also be worth having your vitamin D level checked, as it may drop off in the winter months and deficiency has been linked to some symptoms of seasonal effective disorder.
There may be other effects of the natural environment on your individual wellbeing, no matter if they have been scientifically researched or not. Pay attention to how YOUR health responds to climate patterns and do what you feel is best to ensure the consequences are for the better, no weather… I mean worse.
WebMD, “The Weather: Wreaking Havoc on Health”, by Elizabeth Heubeck; online at http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/the-weather-wreaking-havoc-on-health#1
National Institute of Mental health, Seasonal Affective Disorder; online at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml
Mayo Clinic, Vitamin D; online at http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-d/evidence/HRB-20060400