CLEVELAND -- Do you get headaches, migraines or joint aches when the barometric pressure decides to slide from low to high or vice versa? You're definitely not alone. Weather can impact our bodies, but it doesn't give you the flu or that seasonal cold.
Cleveland Clinic doctor Sherif Mossad, M.D. says influenza loves low humidity. That's why we most often get sick in the winter months. However, the germs are spread by people, not the weather. Colder temperatures keep us indoors and in close proximity to each other which makes it easier for viruses to spread.
He suggests taking advantage of those warm spells this winter is providing. Get outside to exercise and soak up some healthy vitamin D from the sun. Open the windows to air out potential germs lingering in your home.
If you've been exposed to a virus and it's brewing, and then you expose yourself to these quick temperature changes, it may impact your immunity and you can get sick. But the weather didn't cause the illness.
If you're prone to barometric pressure changes keep a close eye on the weather and pay attention to Betsy's weather forecast. She'll let you know what's happening and you can log when you feel the effects. That way you might be able plan ahead.
Those who do need to be concerned about the cold weather include those with heart conditions, high blood pressure and asthma.
Cold weather often triggers asthma so it may be helpful to keep a scarf over the mouth and nose when outdoors. Inhaling cold, dry winter air can trigger bronchospasms -- contractions of the air passages in the lungs. To avoid this, many doctors advise their asthmatic patients to take their anti-asthma medications just before they exert themselves. Talk to yours for advice.
Cold temperatures constrict blood vessels in the skin and can cause shallow breathing through the mouth, and slight thickening of the blood, all of which can lead indirectly to angina (chest pain) in people with heart disease.
Cold lowers the heart's supply of blood, while exertion raises the demand for it. This imbalance between supply and demand can also cause attacks of chest pain.
Even in people who don't have heart disease, cold exposure can raise blood pressure. To conserve heat, the muscles contract to obstruct the flow of blood to the arms and legs. This reroutes extra blood to the vital organs and boosts the blood pressure.