PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- We hear a lot about heat stroke and skin cancer risks living in Arizona. But there are actually quite a few other links between the weather and your health.
Allergies are a common health battle for many this time of year. But left untreated, allergies can lead to other health issues like sinus infections in adults and ear infections in children. And you’re even more at risk if your allergies keep you up at night.
“If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not getting that restful sleep, and there’s not time for the body to regenerate,” says Dr. Joseph Mitttel of Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute. “You are going to get more sick and we do see that a lot with kids. They cough all night and then the parents want to know why the kids keep getting sick.”
Allergy season has been especially rough this year thanks to our wet winter, but Mother Nature is already working on her next threat. Ozone season is well underway. From April through the summer months, we get some of the worst air pollution in the country thanks to ozone, an invisible pollutant.
In fact, the American Lung Association just this week ranked Phoenix as the seventh worst city in the nation for ozone pollution. High levels of ozone can make it tough for young children, the elderly and those with asthma to breathe.
Mittel says he also sees a spike in patients’ symptoms after big dust storms and even during recent springtime windy days. Rain can be helpful for suppressing pollen, but thunderstorms can actually help release pollen into the atmosphere. Mittel says paying attention to your allergies and treating them effectively can give your whole immune system a boost.
“Allergies are like a snowball down a hill,” Mittel says. “Once they start, they’re hard to get control of.”
A drop in barometric pressure can also affect your health. When storms roll into town, Dr. Kerry Knievel at Barrow Neurological Institute says her migraine patients can tell. “When the weather changes, when the barometric pressure changes, our phones start ringing off the hook,” she says.
Pressure changes in our atmosphere can also make your joints aches. It’s why some people say they can feel it in their bones when a storm is coming.
Knievel says dust storms can also trigger migraines, and so can spring allergies. Our extreme summer heat also makes it easier to get dehydrated, which can also lead to headaches, along with fatigue, sleeplessness and a weakened immune system. “I always tell my patients, if you already feel thirst, especially in the summertime, you’re already dehydrated,” says Knievel. “And here since it’s so dry, it seems like people don’t sweat as much so they don’t really realize that they’re dehydrated.”
“I always tell people they can avoid their triggers,” Knievel adds, “but weather is one of them that they can’t.”
Doctors say pay attention not just to the weather report --but to how your body reacts to certain types of weather and during certain seasons so you can be proactive.