How does air pressure affect my joints?

(KIAH) — Is this pain you are feeling the result of a change in the weather? For some, changes in temperature or barometric pressure can be the source of unexpected ailments.

dr Niral Patel, an emergency room physician at MedExpress in Houston, spoke to KIAH about how changes in weather can affect different people’s bodies.

What is barometric pressure?

Barometric pressure, or atmospheric pressure, is the weight of the earth’s atmosphere above us. The pressure varies from day to day and by location. Pressure can also change with temperature. Warm air is lighter and less dense than cold air.

High pressure is associated with relatively fine and calm weather or sinking air. Low pressure is associated with rising air, clouds, and sometimes even rain or storms.

A chart shows the expected impact of Houston’s atmospheric pressure on “pain and aches” this week. (KIAH)

How does weather, especially atmospheric or low air pressure, affect a person’s body?

More pressure means more weight is pressing on our joints and tissues. This limits the expansion or swelling of the joints that can occur. When the pressure decreases, even by a small amount, some people can feel the expansion in their body — sometimes causing aches or pains in nerves and joints.

Patel says it all depends on physical factors.

“Typically, older people feel more pain because their tissues are less dense compared to younger people,” Patel said.

The doctor also explained that pressure changes can trigger migraines, even when someone does something as simple as moving from a temperature/pressure regulated house to outdoor areas with lower pressure.

The difference between seasonal allergies (which can include sinus pressure) and tenderness is that allergies are likely to include other symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing, while changes in pressure aren’t likely to produce these findings, said Dr. says Patel.

To manage these symptoms, Patel suggests sufferers stay hydrated and try to get regular physical activity. For people with severe migraines, “being able to stay indoors, in a temperature-controlled home, is ideal,” he says. How does air pressure affect my joints?

Grace Reader

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