WHEN A DAY BEGINS WITH GRAY SKY, FREEZING RAIN AND A PUDDLE UNDER FEET , it’s tempting to blame the bad feeling on the weather. However, in the International Classification of Diseases , where all known diseases are collected, there are no terms “meteorological dependence” or “meteosensitivity”. There is no scientific evidence for a direct link between atmospheric pressure, rainfall, wind speed and changes in the physiology of the body. Why, nevertheless, it can be unhealthy when the weather changes, we found out from the specialists: the chief physician of the Israeli clinic of medical tourism LevIsrael , the doctor of the highest category Viktor Levy, the cardiovascular surgeon of the GBUZ “GKB named after S. S. Yudin DZM” Pavel Torubarov and the doctor -Consultant of the Center for Molecular Diagnostics (CMD) of the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor Mikhail Lebedev.
What is weather dependence
The human body is comfortable in certain conditions – within the framework of a favorable air temperature and atmospheric pressure, when it receives the right amount of oxygen and sunlight. Changing any of these parameters can cause discomfort, but the human body can respond in different ways. Doctor Pavel Torubarov suggests comparing the reactions of two organisms: a healthy child and an adult who already has a number of age-related changes. Both react to changes in the environment through the same mechanisms, but the former has a much higher adaptive capacity. Therefore, a healthy child is unlikely to notice a change in air pressure or humidity, unlike an adult with chronic diseases.
Many people believe in the dependence of their well-being on the weather, for no objective reason. According to doctor Mikhail Lebedev, it is the development of a particular disease with age that is primary. “Meteosensitivity” can accompany an illness, but it is not in itself – it is rather a condition with elements of both a real illness and autosuggestion. And if a person is inclined to worry strongly, his poor health is “superimposed” on an unstable emotional background, which increases the discomfort.
Dr. Victor Levy notes that certain inconveniences when the weather changes are difficult to deny. For example, a sharp heat can significantly worsen overall health – due to insufficient adaptation of the body, overheating or, for example, dehydration. But changes in atmospheric pressure and other changes in weather conditions do not affect health by themselves. Why do so many blame the weather for poor health? The fact is that those cases are better remembered when the weather changed after an illness (or before it), and situations when the same was unwell, but the weather conditions persisted, are quickly forgotten. This is a subjective perception due to self-hypnosis.
Why do joints ache before the rain and want to sleep
Drowsiness and discomfort in the joints can occur regardless of weather conditions, for example, as a symptom of a particular disease – but due to the peculiarities of the human psyche, it is precisely the cases that arose before the rain that are remembered. Victor Levy notes that psychosomatics often works : the expectation of bad weather provokes unpleasant sensations in the body. And sleepiness and loss of strength after a long flight with a change of time zones is much easier to associate with a change in climatic conditions than with a failure of the body’s biological clock – the real cause of malaise.
When the rain is about to start, many complain of joint pain. Pavel Torubarov notes that such “meteosensitivity” is nothing more than a signal reminder of the presence of an old injury or a chronic disease, such as arthritis. This is easy to explain: before precipitation falls, atmospheric pressure decreases, to which receptors that send signals to the brain react. The latter “reads” information, including from the nerve endings in the damaged area. Such signals are perceived as alarming – and pain arises in the “problem” place.
Another common example: before the rain, it often tends to sleep. In this case, with a decrease in atmospheric pressure, the amount of oxygen in the air also decreases. The body feels a shortage and thus tries to save energy. Hence the feeling of fatigue and a strong desire to lie down. But after a while, the body adapts to new conditions.
Why weather dependence is dangerous and what to do about it
A variety of health problems can be hidden under the guise of “meteorological dependence”: joint diseases (arthritis and arthrosis), problems with the cardiovascular or respiratory system, hormonal disorders (especially during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, as well as in diseases of the thyroid gland), chronic anemia (low hemoglobin level) and others. Weakness, increased fatigue, sleep disturbances (drowsiness or insomnia), headache, dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sudden mood swings are symptoms that are mistakenly called meteorological dependence.
Even if these manifestations are not uncommon, you should not prescribe medications to yourself: the treatment should be selected by a doctor and should be directed not only to the symptoms, but also to their cause. Therefore, doctors strongly recommend abandoning self-diagnosis, and instead contact a therapist and undergo an examination – to do a general clinical blood test, as well as tests for ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and C-reactive protein (CRP), which indicates the presence of inflammatory processes.
Magnetic storms: should you be afraid of them
The Earth has an invisible shell – the magnetosphere. She, like armor, protects all living things from solar radiation. When flares are noted on the Sun, the speed of ionized particles (the so-called solar wind) increases and the pressure on the magnetosphere rises – it seems to be compressed above the planet. This pressure drop is called a magnetic storm. Mikhail Lebedev draws attention to the fact that a magnetic storm does not affect atmospheric pressure, and its effect on human health has not been studied – large scientific studies on this topic have not yet been carried out.
According to the doctor, some scientists suggest that solar flares can provoke headaches, increase blood pressure, reduce performance and exacerbate various chronic diseases. First of all, this applies to cardiovascular diseases – and the mechanism of such exacerbations is associated with a violation of electromagnetic processes inside the body. But even in this case, it is important to think about what is still primary – an unproven effect of geomagnetic disturbance or a disease that its carrier may not even suspect about.
Experts agree that a healthy lifestyle with proper rest and sleep, a balanced diet and regular but reasonable physical activity, as well as a low level of stress is the best prevention of the possible effects of magnetic storms and weather sensitivity. In case of chronic diseases, planned visits to the doctor and adherence to his recommendations will be the right decision.
When to change the climate zone
Allergies and respiratory diseases (chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma) are not associated with changes in the weather – but they largely depend on the state of the environment. For example, the presence in the air of microparticles of pollen, tobacco smoke tar, dust, which cause irritation in the bronchi, plays an important role. If the irritant is specific, for example, birch pollen or poplar fluff, it is enough to exclude contact with it. In the case of an allergy to street dust, which is constantly in the air, bronchitis will most likely not be completely cured, even if you change your place of residence. But for those who suffer from bronchial asthma, changing the cold and humid climate to a warm and dry one will benefit and significantly improve the quality of life.
For patients with psoriasis, the best option would be to live in an area where there are much more sunny days than cloudy ones: insolation improves the condition in the presence of various skin diseases. By the way, according to Victor Levy, lack of sunlight is one of the factors in the development of depression, so staying in warm countries can be a good help for treatment. But before packing your bags, you should discuss the need to move with your doctor and undergo an examination, weighing the pros and cons. Changing the climatic zone is always a test for the body, because it needs time to adapt to new, unusual conditions.