December 21

HealthCast: Air Pressure Changes Can Impact Human Health

Can the human body act as a weather barometer? While multiple studies show inconsistencies linking pain to pressure changes, people have been known to predict an impending storm solely based on joint pain. There is a scientific theory as to how air pressure changes can impact human health.

Pressure and fronts forecast map. Source: NWS

Pressure and fronts forecast map. Source: NWS

Air Pressure Changes Can Impact Human Health

The weather pattern is dominated by regions of high and low pressure. The movement of high and low pressure changes the air pressure at a particular location. The human body adjusts to the changes in outdoor air pressure by creating equal pressure inside the body. This equilibrium of the body’s internal pressure with the outside air pressure influences the health of certain individuals. The human body can have unique reactions to changes in air pressure that create pain or make a person feel agitated. Fortunately the feeling is often fleeting.

Pressure and Pain

Changes in air pressure can often be felt in the joints or in individuals that have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Often times pressure changes can be felt in old injuries. Tiny air bubbles trapped between joints are slow to react to rapid changes in air pressure. Pain could be made worse by lowering pressure (a rapidly dropping barometric reading) which in turn can create higher pressure inside the joints and lead to inflammation. Low pressure is often associated with unsettled weather. The feeling of discomfort that comes about as a result of lowering pressure is the reason why some people are able to predict incoming inclement weather.

Conversely when high pressure approaches the body reacts by lowering the internal pressure therefore reducing swelling.

Next time you feel aches and pains, consider the changing weather as the natural reason for your ailments!

Kristin Clark

Aeris Weather Meteorologist


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