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Are you feeling unwell? It might be the atmosphere....

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Are you feeling unwell? It might be the atmosphere....

I have noticed for the past couple of weeks that people, including myself, have been feeling a little unwell with rather bland symptoms, and just more feeling "Blah" than anything, with a few cases of colds and GI upset here and there.  I was thinking back, and around this time of year it seems that so many people get sick, and this is the beginning of spring when we should be getting rejuvenated and renewed full of warm weather energy!

So why do we feel not so great?
There are a few theories lurking around out there and the obvious choice would be that since spring has sprung is many places, plants and trees are budding, that allergy season has started, and those of us who have allergies may be facing the very early symptoms of a loooong allergy season.  OK, I can work with that, and it isn't completely unbelievable.

But, another working theory that scientists are looking at is the relationship between atmospheric pressure and the effects it has on the human body, more so the immune system.  I must add that it has been long known, Hippocrates 400BC first spoke about it,  that pressure changes effect people with various health issues, and anyone with arthritis or migraines can tell you that they experience changes with environmental pressures.  But this theory is that as the pressure systems change, to allow for the warmer weather to occur and the seasonal changes, it can cause delayed immune responses, thus leaving us more at risk for viral attacks.  Kind of interesting, right?  And, in all honesty, high pressure therapy has been researched in many different areas (like with cancer treatments, wound healing, etc)and it really does have varied effects on human bodies based on the pressures.  Hyperbaric Treatments have been used for years on and off for different treatments, and have shown to be helpful, but this is the first time that environmental pressure changes are being carefully looked at in association with the immune system.

What happens with high pressure?
High atmospheric pressure is usually associated with cold, dry air, and clear cool crisp fall days!  When the atmospheric pressure is high, more oxygen is allowed to enter the cells, the immune system is made stronger, small blood vessels are stimulated and have better circulating blood flow, thus allowing for appropriate immune responses.  And, many people report feeling better on these days, who knows if it is the beautiful clear skies or the reported increased oxygen in the blood, but if people feel better, it works for me!

What is different with low pressure?
Low pressures bring cloudy days with lower temperatures, but "heavy" air, meaning wet or damp, which really reminds me of most of the time I lived in Scotland (although, I must say that I LOVED living there but I don't have any health issues that would be effected by that weather!) These low pressure systems cause swelling of joints and tissues, which cause increased pressure within the body and lead to an immediate immune response.  And some people might have their immune systems responding to new allergens in the environment due to spring.  When your immune system is already fighting off  a response (either chronic or seasonal onset), it leaves you much more at risk for infections because your immune system is "lowered".

My own personal theory is that we also tend to get so excited for the warmer weather of spring that we tend to overextend ourselves, and if we have any allergies or chronic illnesses, they are made worse by these weather changes that occur.  What can you do?  Not really much, just be aware of the weather changes, and note how your body reacts so that you can be prepared, and maybe be extra careful around those times to stay away from people that are sick (if possible) and try to drink lots of fluids, decrease your stress levels, and don't overextend yourself physically.

Yours in Good Health


At April 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Blogger Akindman said...

Another great article B - many thanks for your efforts and sharing. Over the past decade, I have really become more aware of the changes of seasons and atmosphere. The good news is, now that I am retired and not feel all that chipper, I can relax in my recliner, sometimes even sneak in a nap. Looking forward to your next post. Take good care.

At April 13, 2011 at 2:23 PM , Blogger Nurse Bridgid said...

Thank you so much for reading and for your kind comments!! :)


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