Weather conditions can affect our health, such as periods of hot weather that can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
One of the most heartbreaking things is when children are left in cars. Even on a mild day, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can rise to over 100 degrees in just minutes. Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services said that, since 1998, 636 children have died in the U.S. from vehicular heat stroke.
Another type of atmospheric condition that affects some of us are increasing or decreasing humidity levels, which can cause respiratory ailments. Comments from readers increased last month due to greater amounts of monsoonal moisture that produced periods of uncharacteristically muggy weather.
The coastal low clouds, fog and drizzle can make some feel gloomy — while others, like me, feel joyful.
The direction of the winds can have a profound effect on those who suffer from hay fever and other types of airborne allergies. When the Santa Lucia (northeasterly) winds blow, they transport pollens from the grasses and tress in the inland valleys and mountains toward the sea.
The medical community will tell you hay fever — seasonal allergic rhinitis, or SAR, is the correct term, because hay is not usually the problem — is frequently caused by pollen.
People who suffer from SAR have a particular gene that causes their immune systems to overreact to pollen, producing itchy eyes, sneezing, runny noses and other symptoms. On the other hand, if you live along the northwesterly facing beaches of Morro Bay, Los Osos, Montaña de Oro and Nipomo, or the westerly facing beaches of Cambria, Grover Beach and Pismo Beach, the northwesterly winds that come off the Pacific Ocean are nearly pollen-free.
One of the most common weather and health issues I hear about is the relationship between changes in atmospheric pressure and different medical conditions. A few years back, I had a tooth with a bad filling, and every time I headed north on Highway 101 over the Cuesta Grade, the decreased air pressure would cause my tooth to hurt. As soon as I returned to sea level, the increased air pressure would make the pain go away.
There’s a lot of folklore on this subject, so I decided to search out the facts at the library. I wanted to see if there were any scientifically proven relationships between changes in atmospheric pressure and visits to the doctor. After my research through various medical journals, including one called the International Journal of Biometeorology, it appears there is a relationship between air pressure and our health.
High pressure is generally beneficial. Low pressure can have a negative effect. When a cold front or low-pressure system moves toward the Central Coast, the atmospheric pressure typically drops. According to these medical journals, this weather pattern can bring about the following symptoms: increased rheumatic pain, headaches, blood pressure fluctuations, heart attacks, risk of depression and blood sugar variations.
Even though these low-pressure centers can produce these symptoms, I take solace in knowing that they often produce rain, which we desperately need after four years of drought.
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