AUSTIN (KXAN) – Changes in weather are essentially challenges to your immune system and a sudden shift in temperature, like what we’re seeing this week, can have major impacts on your health. We did some research into what just a two-degree drop can do to you, and how you can prep for these wildly fluctuating temperatures.
Heart health and cold weather
The heart is one of the biggest victims of cold weather. A two-degree drop can increase your heart rate by two percent and, according to one study, can cause an additional 200 heart attacks a day. This increase in heart attacks can last for up to a month after the temperature drops. Both men and women seemed equally vulnerable to the shift, with people aged 75 to 84 at the highest risk.
Although research is still ongoing, temperature drops have been linked to an increase in blood viscosity, changes in blood pressure, and the aforementioned increase in heart rate. The research found that the temperature didn’t matter as much as that it changed.
Joint pain and spontaneous birth
Shifts in temperature cause a shift in air pressure. Warm air causes pressure to lower, while cold air causes the reverse. This change in pressure has the same effect on people, as a thunderstorm and has been linked to migraines and joint pain.
Health care professionals even believe pressure changes can cause women to go into spontaneous labor. In one survey, one-third of nurses said they believed weather influenced labor rates. However, research has yet to find a suitable link between pressure and increase birth rates.
Change your air filter
Alternating your air conditioning between hot and cold can dehumidify the air. This can cause pollen, dust, and mold trapped in your air filter to then be blown out into your home. This can aggravate your sinuses. If your air filter hasn’t been changed in six months, do so now.
Wear light layers
If you’re wearing a ton of clothes or too little, you’re putting yourself at risk for an upper respiratory infection. Your clothing can cause your body to overheat or freeze, which can then aggravate your immune system. You should instead wear light layers so that you can adapt your outfit as the temperature shifts throughout the day.