Why Do I Get Headaches When it Rains?

Surprise, You Are a Weather Station!

Well your body is a weather detector anyway…

Can you read the signals and signs your body is telling you?

Barometric headache

You already know…

Check this out:

Sometimes you know what the weather is going to be before you even open your eyes in the morning. You not only pay attention to every detail of your environment but you always do something about it. Every second of everyday for your whole life!

Just as you can see what you look like with a mirror, a home weather station can reflect the conditions your body is adapting to.

Looking at the temperature in terms of degrees and wind speed in terms of miles per hour comes naturally. But…

…Measurements of humidity and pressure do not have the same easy relationships to everyday life as temperature and wind speed do.

A home weather station can certainly help with this.

What can you learn about yourself with a weather station?
There is a field of study called human biometeorology. There’s a mouthful! This field brings various scientists, medical experts, and meteorologists together.

And they have discovered a few things…

 1. Temperature…   As the temperature rises,  blood vessels expand and your blood pressure goes down. Good news! If you have high blood pressure, staying warm is a good idea. Just make sure to drink enough water though.

As temperatures go down, blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. While this help maintain internal body temperature, your body has to remove water from the blood to compensate. This causes the blood to get thicker. Not so good news. Puts more meaning in a thermometer reading, doesn’t it?

2.  Humidity... This is usually expressed as relative humidity; a measure in % of how much water the air can absorb. As the humidity goes up, sweating becomes less efficient and you feel hotter than it really is, and as the humidity goes down you feel cooler.

If you have problems with temperature, pay attention to the humidity too. If the conditions are too humid or too dry, get a dehumidifier or humidifier and do something about the weather!

 3. Wind chill…This is a measure of the effect of air movement on your epiclimate. My WHAT! When there is no wind, a layer of air, that could be warmer or cooler than the thermometer reads, forms around your body.

On a warm, calm day, your epiclimate could be even warmer and any air movement is cooling and refreshing. On a cold day it goes the other way; you want to keep your epiclimate right where it is. More than modesty, this is what clothing is really for!

 4. Dew point… The question “What is dew point?” comes up a lot. The dew point is the temperature where dew forms. And where clouds and fog form. It is the point where the air is completely saturated and cannot accept any  more water. This is a problem on warm days when perspiring is supposed to cool you off. This is why the dew point is considered the best measure of comfort in warm weather, even more so than the temperature.

The amount of water vapor the air can hold at a given pressure and temperature is a known and fixed amount. Warmer air holds more water than cooler air.

Here is a mental illustration: imagine two water glasses, one twice the size of the other. These glasses represent the temperature and water capacity of the air. Call the smaller glass 40° and the larger 80°. See where I’m going with this?

Now fill each glass halfway; this represents 50% Relative Humidity. Relative to the size of the glass, which represents our temperature. But the amount of water in each glass is different. The amount of water is called the Absolute Humidity, and this is what the dew point is all about.

The amount of water in the 80° glass would exactly fill the 40° glass. Our 80° glass would have a relative humidity of 50% and an absolute humidity, the dew point, of 40°. Our 40° glass also has a 50% R.H. but a dew point of 20°, which would be called the ‘frost point’, where frost forms.

Barometric pressure play a part; when the pressure falls things expand. This includes the water vapor in the air. If the pressure drops and you are near the dew point it might be enough to “over fill” your glass.

So, you can see the problem; when it’s cooler out you can dress warmer, but when it get warmer and more humid at some point your body has no way of cooling off. Sweating eventually doesn’t work. This can be dangerous to people and animals who cannot find a way or a place to cool off.

Everybody is different and is comfort is somewhat subjective, but this is the general idea of dew point comfort levels:

  • Less than 50° is quite nice
  • Between 50° and 55° is very comfortable
  • Then around 56° to 60° it starts to feel humid
  • Around 61° to 65° it feel decidedly sticky
  • Up at 66° to 70° it gets noticeably uncomfortable
  • At 71° to 75° the humidity is downright miserable
  • Over 76° the dew point is dangerously high

Oh, and did I mention mold loves heat and humidity…..

5.  Wind…While a bit of wind on a warm humid day is very welcome, a wind in very dry conditions just makes  you dehydrate faster. Winds are usually associated with a low pressure area, so separating the health effects of wind and pressure is difficult.

The obvious problems are pollen and dust. A not so obvious effect is the wind changing the positive/ negative ion mix. An increase in positive ions has been related to numerous problems like migraines, nausea, irritability, slowed reflexes, fatigue, diminished vision, and respiratory problems.

If any of these problems apply to you, consider an air filter or an ion generator. Not all winds are the same; Foehn winds like the Santa Ana, and the Chinook have been associated with loss of wellbeing.

6.  Rain… There is nothing like a good rain to clean the junk out of the air! Another overlooked benefit is raindrops release negative ions when they impact the ground. Crashing waves at the beach and waterfalls in the mountains also have these beneficial effects.

7.  Barometric pressure… The rise and fall of the barometric pressure  affects your blood pressure; lower atmospheric pressure results in lower blood pressure. As the pressure falls tissues and gases in your body expand and this is what causes the majority of health complaints. Many people ask: why do I get headaches when it rains? They are sometimes called ‘barometric headaches’.

If the barometer changes slowly, no problem. Rapid changes, particularly down, leads to headaches, joint pain, migraines, and sinus issues. There is not much you can do about the barometric pressure other than being prepared for the issues it causes you.

Having your own personal weather station can open up a new understanding of the world. Paying attention to the information from your weather station and your body’s responses will give you insight about why you feel the way you do and maybe some understanding about the behavior of people and critters around you. By using your long range weather forecast along with your knowledge of how the weather affects you and others, planning for the future can be a lot more meaningful.

To learn more about the actual weather equipment used to measure the weather conditions, take a look at this page.

Thanks for your time….
…Have Fun!