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Changes in Barometric Pressure and Your Body

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Changes in Barometric Pressure and Your Body

In some areas of the world weather changes are more extreme than in other areas.  In the tropics for example, weather tends to be extremely predictable for the most part, outside of tropical cyclones.  In parts of North America the weather can be highly unpredictable.  Changes in weather involve changes in the air pressure that surrounds us, and the change in this air pressure can affect how we feel.

In areas that experience  wide swings in air pressure/weather, it's not uncommon to hear complaints of weather related sinus headaches, migraine headaches, increased joint pain, and general unease.  A change in atmospheric pressure also affects blood pressure and blood sugar levels. There is more going on than meets the eye when the weather changes, but a lot of the change in how we feel may be due to changes in air pressure. 

The air that surrounds us is made up of about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen. The remaining 1% consists of argon, carbon dioxide, neon, helium, methane and krypton.  Molecules of air are constantly on the move.  When they meet with an object the air exerts what we know as air pressure.  At sea level the pressure that the air exerts is 14.7 pounds per square inch of surface area.  At elevations above sea level this pressure decreases. Because we don't all live at the same elevation the measurement of air pressure is standardized and is expressed usually in "inches of mercury" or "millibars" and is most commonly measured with a barometer.  

The amount of air pressure that we experience on a given day depends upon a variety of factors including the time of day, the temperature outside, the density of the air, and the movement of weather systems.  What is certain, however, is that some people are more sensitive to changes in barometric pressure than others.  

When the weather/air pressure changes many people experience sinus pain, headaches, migraine headaches and joint pain.  Although it's hard to pinpoint the specific cause of joint pain due to change in air pressure , the cause of headaches is a bit more easily understood. The sinuses in our head contain air and they have to re-adjust when the air pressure changes.  The readjustment can cause pain. In fact, weather change has long been considered a trigger for migraine headaches.  For some people, such as the elderly, a change in air pressure can have adverse effects on blood pressure.  For diabetics, it can present a challenge for controlling blood sugar levels.  

It is hard to avoid the weather, but staying aware of changes in weather can add some information to why you may not be feeling that great, you may have some aches and pains, or you may be feeling out of sorts.  It could be that all you need is a change of weather or better still a vacation to the tropics!. 


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