How the changing seasons can affect your health

How the changing seasons can affect your health

When the seasons begin to turn, your body feels the effects both physically and mentally. Whether it's the time change associated with daylight saving time, dark mornings or longer sunlit days, differences in temperature and air quality or shifting weather patterns, the change from one season to the next has a real impact on our health.

The current change of season from winter to spring can wreak havoc on people who suffer from asthma and allergies. With spring comes blooming plants and trees and a spike in airborne pollen and other allergens that can cause asthma and allergy symptoms to flare up, which means a rise in watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, stuffiness and headaches.

The hot, humid weather that comes with summer can make it hard to breathe, even for people in relatively good health. Also, the hotter weather means an increase in air pollution. For people with asthma, lung disease and other pulmonary disorders, the high humidity and dirty air can make it particularly hard to breathe and function normally.

Changes in barometric pressure can affect your health in a variety of ways. The drop in barometric pressure associated with strong spring and summer storms can cause joint pain. Lowering barometric pressure can also put pressure on the sinuses, which can cause headaches. Similarly, the lower barometric pressure that comes with a winter cold front can increase blood thickness, which can make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. Cold winter weather can also trigger asthma attacks.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is just what its name implies—depression brought on a change in season. Typically, SAD symptoms start in the fall and last through the winter, when we don't get as much vitamin D from the sun. In general, symptoms include feelings of depression and worthlessness accompanied by low energy, sluggishness, change in appetite and problems sleeping. If you begin to feel flat as the weather turns colder, you may be suffering from SAD, which is treatable with light therapy, counseling and/or medication. If you do feel a case of the seasonal blues coming on, it's always a good idea to check with your physician.

Seasonal changes can have a positive impact on your health, as well. Studies have suggested that when seasonal changes bring more temperate, comfortable weather—the change from extreme summer heat to the milder temperatures of fall or the switch from harsh winter cold to warm spring weather—they can significantly improve one's outlook and mood as well as physical activity and fitness levels. Spending more time outdoors when the weather is good has also been linked to lower stress and increased wellbeing, which can translate to a happier, healthier life.

Posted: 3/20/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: Allergies, Asthma, Seasons, Spring

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