Weather sensitivity, a myth?
Many people are according to themselves weather-sensitive.
And already the Romans knew: weather changes effect health!
Nevertheless, the theory about the phenomenon “weather sensitivity” is controversial. Is it real or not?
But what is weather sensitivity?
Weather sensitivity is characterized by the reduction of the threshold of the autonomic nervous system. The affected person perceives physical reactions to climatic changes (heat, cold, wind, humidity) and thus feels tired, irritable, unfocused or depressed. Typical symptoms include headache, dizziness and sleep disturbances. Ukrainian scientists have already shown in experiments that these fluctuations could affect heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.
Researchers in medical meteorology believe that weather sensitivity could have originally been a life-sustaining mechanism: a protective reflex that warned people (and animals that react to the weather as well) to weather changes on time.
It is certain that weather sensitivity is a mood disorder. Women and the elderly are affected more frequently. The weather sensitivity is also promoted by a hectic lifestyle, unhealthy diet, stress or strong tension. Weather sensitivity leads to a reduced general condition, reduced performance and depressed mood. Physical causes are absent.
Biotropy of the weather
In particular the short-term changes in the weather are a stressor for the organism, as they require an adjustment; that’s called the meteorotropy of the weather. The characterizing and meteorological elements of the weather are a stimulus on the human organism.
According to a study by the Munich University Hospital and the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy in 2002, 54 percent of Germans describe themselves as weather-sensitive. The subjective weathersensitivity is indeed proven. In a study, people who call themselves weather-sensitive were asked to keep a journal of their complaints. The result: “For two thirds of the participants there was a significant correlation between the subjective complaints and the measurements of meteorological parameters.” However, clear objective evidence is missing so far. Less the weather, but rather the personal condition significantly affects the well-being.
According to a survey by the Deutsche Wetterdienst (DWD, German Meteorological Office), every second person sees a relationship between the weather conditions and their own health, more women (57 percent) than men (42 percent), more older people than younger people. For those who are affected the complaints are real. But scientists are puzzling: What mechanisms really exist between weather and health?
Today, several researchers agree that weathersensitivity often is more related with psychological effects than the weather. For example, with the nocebo effect: “If bioweather forecasts persuade people that they get joint pain in cold weather, then they will have the predicted symptoms. This is a self-sustaining system.” This means that the conviction that certain weather conditions trigger or intensify complaints ultimately leads to an actual occurrence of expected complaints. So, it’s the opposite of a placebo effect. (The placebo effect states that simply by administering and believing in a remedy it would help to create positive effects.)
If you are greatly influence by your weathersensitivity, you should consult your doctor. Within an examination and consultation, your doctor can give you advice and possibly help you with medications for particularly uncomfortable situations, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
- Keep a diary and find out what kind of weather is making you ill. Consider all complaints.
- Eat balanced and versatile. Overweight promotes the weather symptoms.
- Contrast showers, sauna sessions and regular walks in the fresh air support the body’s ability to react to weather stimuli.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine and medications because they influence the autonomic nervous system.
- Endurance sports such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming promote general well-being and harden off the body. Gardening can be helpful. But only as a prevention and not if the symptoms exist already.
Our psyche affects what we call weathersensitivity. A burdened mind can intensify many complaints that are attributed to weathersensitivity. In return, it means that mental and physical balance can positively affect our weather perception and make us more resistant to the whims of the weather.
Usage of the HeartRateVariability by Autonom Health
Did you recognize yourself in the descriptions? Then use My Autonom Health Premium to see if the weathersensitivity is reflected in your autonomic nervous system. Measure, if you feel fit and vital and compare your measurements, if you are weather-sensitive! In that way you get to know your resources in everyday life, which can help you to get through the unpleasant situations.
The following two HRV measurements clearly show how weathersensitivity can affect the autonomic nervous system. In the first measurement there was a weather change with a sudden temperature difference of more than 10 degrees and a change from sun to rain.
Already during the previous days, the measured person (29) noticed that her well-being changed. Sleep problems and migraines were clear signs. The HRV measurement shows the reduction of the VLF and LF area as signs of fatigue.
The 10 health and lifestyle factors are in the middle range. Also the biological age is 3 years above the calendrical age. Power Naps, Progressive Muscle Relaxation or Autogenic Training are just a few of the recommendations.
In the second measurement, just one day later, the result was significantly different. The weather had settled at low temperatures, but no rough weather changes were planned.
Although the fire could still be denser, higher and more colorful, you can see a significant improvement.
During her sleep, the RSA is well-developed which causes that the measured person feels much better in the early morning. Also, the dense LF area around 0.1 Hz shows increased performance.
The VLF area is almost continuous and shows that the exhaustion tendencies have decreased.
Also, the 10 health and lifestyle factors show the improved well-being. Almost all values are now in the green range and the biological age has decreased by 8 years.
https://www.welt.de/gesundheit/article12444702/Forscher-haelt-Wetterfuehligkeit-fuer-einen-Mythos.html (abgerufen am 26.09.2017)
http://www.zeit.de/zeit-wissen/2016/05/gesundheit-wetter-migraene-gelenkschmerzen-wetterfuehligkeit-ausreden (abgerufen am 26.09.2017)