Blog - Does the Weather affect your Health?

By Matthew Manning: 29 Jan 2017

I've long been intrigued by the effect of weather on the health of my patients. Whilst some thrive in very warm conditions, others are adversely affected. Some seem to benefit from the cold whilst others really struggle with it. Whilst there is not an a great deal of research on the subject, there is an increasing awareness that barometric pressure does affect our health...

  • Blood pressure: just as its name implies, our blood moves through our bodies using a pressure system created by the heart. It stands to reason that this pressure would be affected by the air pressure around us. When barometric pressure drops, so does your blood pressure. For some, this might mean a feeling of dizziness or blurred vision.
  • Headaches: in a study published in the journal 'Internal Medicine', researchers asked migraine patients to keep a headache diary for one year. After comparing these diaries with the barometric pressure changes noted at a nearby weather station, they found a direct correlation between lower atmospheric pressure and the onset and duration of migraines.
  • Joint pain: researchers at Tufts-New England Medical Centre in Boston surveyed 200 patients with knee osteoarthritis and found a link between changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature and changes in knee pain severity. It's not clear why a falling barometric pressure would exacerbate joint pain and arthritis, but studies such as this one confirm that they do.
  • Blood sugar: diabetics who use an insulin pump to control sugar levels should also be careful. The American Diabetes Association conducted a study on the relationship between the effectiveness of insulin pumps with variations in air pressure and found that decreases in air pressure "may cause trapped air in the pump to form small bubbles that affect the delivery of insulin and the amount actually being delivered." I've known people who've had broken bones and years later always know when it's going to rain because that bone aches.

Maybe your grandmother used to say that she knew when a storm was coming because she could "feel it in her bones." It turns out that she may not have been as crazy as you thought! Is your health affected by the weather?