While some areas of the country are still experiencing unseasonable warmth, the fall season has largely arrived, which means that colder weather is just around the corner. As temperatures outside drop and winter storms begin, you might notice a number of changes in your health, simply because the weather has shifted. You may already know that winter is the harbinger of flu season, but you might not realize that cold, stormy weather can also take the following effects on your body. By understanding the seasonal risks that you face in the winter, you can better manage your health in all temperatures.
Higher blood pressure
Barometric pressure is the pressure felt in the atmosphere, or the weight of the air against other objects. In winter storm systems, the pressure tends to rise, which can actually tighten up your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure. Even if you do not already struggle from high blood pressure, you might ebb into dangerous territory with seasonal changes. In fact, because your blood pressure fluctuates so frequently, it’s best to measure it regularly and take the average of these measurements as the truest reading.
Seasonal affective disorder—aptly called SAD—is a very real condition that develops as days get shorter and exposure to natural sunlight diminishes. Particularly in places where there is frequent winter cloud cover, you will want to take steps to actively fight off depression. Light therapy is often effective, but it can also be helpful to maintain a healthy diet, exercise often, and talk to a doctor about other treatments for depression. Seasonal anxiety is also a likely reality you may face, since the holidays can bring about busy schedules and stress on your finances, so you should not hesitate to ask for help when you notice changes in your mood or outlook.
Have you ever wondered why your joints ache before a storm or why you feel especially stiff on a cold morning? The joints are actually highly receptive to the same atmospheric pressure changes that can affect your blood pressure, so they may warn you of a coming storm or cold front. This sensation is most common in individuals with arthritis, though it might affect you if you have a joint injury.
Higher heart attack risk
One of the most serious health concerns that winter brings is a higher rate of heart attacks. Rigorous outdoor activities like hanging holiday lights or shoveling snow paired with higher blood pressure and a compromised immune system can put serious strain on the heart, substantially raising your risk for a heart attack.
Whether you’re concerned about your heart health or you simply need first aid for minor winter injuries, MeMD is here to provide quick and convenient healthcare for you and your family. To connect with a medical provider anytime, visit us online and start your exam.