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Meteorologists shine light on weather sensitivity
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The skies might be clear, but for some people, the alarm bells are already ringing. People suffering from meteoro-sensitivity are susceptible to changes in the weather, suffering from headaches, dizziness or grogginess.

"Weather sensitivity is not in the person's head, but something that has been scientifically proven in recent times," says Christina Koppe, a medical meteorologist with the German Weather Service.

Indeed, most people have reactions to changes in the weather. After all, the human body is set to maintain a temperature of 37 C, meaning it will always react to changes in external temperature.

"Usually, you don't notice any of this, but these regulatory mechanisms affect the nervous and hormone systems."

Outdoor activities can help train your body to adapt to changes in the weather. [China Daily]

What weather professionals call meteoro-sensitivity, the average person simply recognizes as standard aches and pains.

"Weather sensitivity is not a discreet ailment, like a migraine," says Eva Wanka, a meteorologist with the university clinic at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian University. Instead, certain weather conditions amplify conditions, like a tendency toward headaches, difficulty concentrating, sleeping problems or joint pains.

Most people experience the problem most acutely before a change in the weather.

"If there's a change from a cold to a warm front, then the temperature and air pressure will change, which can lead to problems," says Wanka. That's why the problems are more common in the spring or fall, when the weather can change abruptly. But the problem can also surface during summer storms.

A good example of the interplay between changing weather and the human body is the influence of temperature regulation on blood pressure, says Koppe.

"Cool air usually comes in on the back of a low pressure system." Since that makes an area colder than before, the body tries to rein in heat loss. One way to do so is by constricting blood vessels near the skin's surface, which briefly bumps up blood pressure. Anyone already suffering from high blood pressure will notice that."

To find out which weather systems have the most impact, people should keep a kind of diary. "There, you can keep track of certain problems and sensitivities next to the day's weather conditions," says geologist and author Peter Goebel.

"It's often enough to look in the sky and check whether the sun is shining or if there are clouds out." After a while, it's easy to see the parallels between one's health and the weather.

But once that's cleared up, it's no excuse to hide at home as soon as weather conditions look troublesome. "The problem is, a lot of people spend a lot of time in closed rooms," says Wanka, which means people's bodies are rarely called upon to deal with temperature changes. "That means it's better to go out into the cold, wind and rain," she says, noting that this helps train a body.

(Agencies via China Daily August 26, 2009)


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