Can the weather make us ill? | Healthy Living | DW | 17.12.2018
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Healthy Living

Can the weather make us ill?

Headaches, circulatory problems, fatigue – is the weather to blame? Not directly, but sensitivity to changes in the weather is a verified phenomenon. But why is that so, and what goes on inside our bodies?

Our bodies respond to changes in the weather. Whether it’s rainy or sunny, hot or cold outside, our bodies must constantly adapt to changes in temperature and barometric pressure. Normally that happens without us noticing it. But some people are more sensitive to changes in the weather than others. They’re tired but still have trouble sleeping, or suffer from fatigue. But it’s not just the weather itself that causes those symptoms – it’s also the change in the weather. “The more drastic and abrupt the change in weather, the greater the impact on people who are sensitive to such changes,” explains Dr. Christina Koppe, a meteorologist and researcher with the German Meteorological Service (DWD) in Freiburg. And again, the barometric pressure itself is less of a factor – what matters more is the size of the shift. For some people, their bodies have difficulty adjusting to a rapid shift. Among people who have low blood pressure, for example, some weather conditions can lead to fatigue or circulatory problems. Shifts in weather can also be difficult for people with chronic conditions such as asthma and rheumatism. But there are some preventive measures that can help. The best preventive remedy is to make sure that you go outside into the fresh air for at least half an hour a day. You don’t need intense exercise – even a gentle stroll in the fresh air will do. Other options for helping your body adjust to weather changes are alternating hot and cold water-jet or shower treatments, and holistic Kneipp therapies. Relaxation exercises are also beneficial, as is good nutrition.