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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Coping with Atmospheric Ups and Downs: Learn how changes in barometric pressure can have little to great impact on existing medical conditions in some people, according to Dr. Sara Penton

Nov 04, 2012 11:44AM ● By Dr. Sara Penton

Some people claim the ability to predict oncoming rainstorms because they experience joint pain or headaches, and science does support their assertions. It’s all about changes in barometric pressure in the atmosphere. In the Phoenix-metro area, we can experience thunderstorms and other weather phenomena that cause changes in both the pressure and humidity of the air.

Barometry refers to a system of measuring air pressure with an instrument (barometer) by means of a counterweight. High or low pressure weather systems moving through an area are influenced by their point of origin, changes in altitude and other factors. As far as weather is concerned, storms indicate that areas of low air pressure will be moving through.

Barometric pressure can have little to great impact on existing medical conditions in some people. Illnesses such as arthritis, swelling and inflammation of joints can be exacerbated when the air pressure drops. Air can also become trapped in sinuses, due to allergic sensitivities. When the pressure drops, air trapped inside the sinuses can cause further pain. Some people also experience migraine headaches that may be related to the weather. When the air pressure outside the body changes, blood vessels tend to react by expanding or contracting, which could possibly cause a headache.

Relative humidity can also cause reactions in the body, especially for those already exhibiting allergy symptoms. Humidity affects the number of particles in the air of substances such as dust, dust mites, pollens and mold. Mold sensitivities are especially exacerbated in humid conditions due to the amount of moisture in the air, because warm, wet air is perfect for the cultivation of mold and mold spores. Asthma sufferers are especially at risk for adverse reactions in humid climates.

Scientific studies link temperature, humidity and air pressure not only to arthritis, asthma and migraines, but also to other ailments as simple as fatigue. Researchers have concluded that high humidity can contribute to flare-ups of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although the reasons are not exactly clear, there is no doubt that humid days can induce feelings of sluggishness, lethargy and overall fatigue.

Staying aware of atmospheric changes can be accomplished by checking weather reports. Levels of relative humidity and barometric pressure are usually reported during weather forecasts on the local news channel. Weather-related websites also contain a wealth of information regarding these issues. Sensitivities to both humidity and barometric pressure can be treated and possibly resolved. Facilitates such as Absolute Health can assess and treat these sensitivities with Advanced Allergy Therapeutics. There is help available for those that suffer from sensitivities related to either of these atmospheric factors.

Dr. Sara Penton is a chiropractic physician and doctor with Absolute Health, 15030 N. Hayden Rd. Ste. C-120, in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-991-9945 or visit

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