A: For certain people, the answer is definitely yes, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. "Many people have said they can tell a change in the weather is about to happen because their joints or muscles start to ache," says McRoberts. "This is likely due to a change in the barometric pressure, which often happens before a thunderstorm or in advance of a cold front. Damp weather is often associated with a low pressure system. A decrease in the air pressure decreases the tension in some large blood vessels, meaning they tend to expand. When this happens, it tends to lead to increased discomfort in joints and muscles. Also, we know that very rapid changes in temperature and humidity can make some people say they feel 'stiff and achy.' Many people who have arthritis say their joints are definitely affected by weather changes."
Q: So can any weather change be a health problem?
A: Probably so, he adds. Some people like rainy days, which can bring muscle misery to others and even breathing trouble, and some people may enjoy cool, dry days, which can also bring aches and pains for some people, including increased sniffing. "The effects of weather on human health have not been the subject of much research," says McRoberts. "But since it appears almost certain weather can and does affect how we feel, a relatively new field has emerged, called biometeorology - the study of how weather affects our bodies. One German study shows that as much as 25 percent of the human population is 'weather sensitive,' meaning weather changes tend to worsen some pre-existing health conditions. Even headaches are being investigated — some researchers say migraine headaches are linked to sudden weather changes."
ABOUT WEATHER WHYS....
"Weather Whys" is a service of Texas A&M University's Department of Atmospheric Sciences.