Joint pain, headaches, fatigue, or circulation problems – some people seem to be particularly sensitive to changes in the weather. What is it about the so-called weather sensitivity?
People are exposed to many influences in their everyday lives – including the weather. To maintain the functions of the body, it reacts to external forces. If temperature and weather change, the body perceives this and begins to adjust the vegetative nervous system accordingly. For example, different hormonal interactions can also occur.
The weather changes, the body reacts
Many people rarely or never notice such adaptations to the weather. Others, however, experience more frequent complaints or believe that they are related to the weather. If, in the course of such weather adjustments, disturbances of the state of health occur, one speaks of weather sensitivity – also called biotrophy or meteoropathy.
Whether the cause of the complaints is the weather is quite probable, but not proven with certainty. This is because most studies on the subject consist primarily of surveys, and are therefore based mainly on self-assessment. What is certain, however, is that many people attribute some of their complaints to the weather. And if one compares the data with weather maps, a connection is obvious.
Frequently described symptoms of weather sensitivity:
- Joint pain
Some people seem to feel changes in the weather, even two or three days before. This may be due to individual sensory cells that are located in particular in the vascular walls of the carotid artery: so-called baroreceptors. These can sense pressure – and perhaps also changes in air pressure. However, this has not been proven.
When does weather sensitivity occur?
Whether a change in the weather has a noticeable effect on your well-being depends on various factors:
- How well can your body adjust to the weather? Possible influenced by:
- individual physical conditions
- general health
- Sleep deprivation
- Stress level
- What type of weather is involved (e.g., high or low-pressure area, heat, or cold)?
- How secure is the change in weather?
Underlying diseases favor weather sensitivity
Such weather changes do not make you ill in the real sense of the word. Nevertheless, weather-sensitive people may experience severe symptoms and maybe a health hazard. This is especially the case if the body does not manage to regulate itself as required. For example, because there are diseases and somebody systems are not adjusted according to standards (such as high blood pressure or low blood pressure).
In general, women seem to be more sensitive to the weather than men, and older people seem to be more sensitive to the climate than young people. Many people who consider themselves weather-sensitive also have longstanding pre-existing conditions (such as chronic pain or respiratory diseases).
Who is particularly sensitive to weather and with which diseases:
- People with hay fever or cardiovascular diseases are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures.
- When the temperature drops, people with vascular diseases, rheumatism, chronic pain, respiratory diseases, or asthma are particularly affected.
For some weather-dependent complaints, it is easy to understand how they can develop. When it is cold, for example, the airways and vessels contract, this can cause problems for people who have asthma, for example. People with high blood pressure may experience a further rise in blood pressure when it is cold and may feel the corresponding discomfort. When it is hot, the blood vessels in the legs and arms dilate. In particular, people who already have circulation problems, for example, low blood pressure, can now experience discomfort due to falling blood pressure. Weather conditions that lead to more dust in the air (such as thunderstorms or storms) can cause breathing problems.
Rapid, frequent, or severe changes in the weather are particularly stressful for the body. In the latter case, several weather factors change at once, such as temperature, humidity, air movement, cloud cover, light conditions, and air pressure.
Examples of active weather changes:
- a change from an anticyclone or a low-pressure system that is moving away or becoming weaker to a low-pressure system that is approaching.
- passage of a hot and cold front
- back of a peeling trough
People seem to feel the least affected by the weather when they are in the center of an anticyclone.
What helps with weather sensitivity?
Some medical doctors and meteorologists believe that weather sensitivity is partly a problem of civilization: While people used to spend more time outdoors, most people nowadays sit mainly in rooms where temperature and light can be controlled. It is, therefore, possible that the body has “forgotten” how to adapt optimally to changes in the weather. If you want to improve your sensitivity to the weather, it may, therefore, help you to spend more time outdoors – preferably every day and in all weathers.
Taking a sauna or a hot and cold shower can also help to train the blood vessels and thus have a positive effect on circulation. As factors such as stress or lack of sleep can also increase sensitivity to the weather, some experts also recommend relaxation exercises and sufficient rest.