Weather and Health: How Warm, Dry Climates Can Help


By Carolyn Heneghan January 19, 2016 Posted in: Personal Health , Article

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Weather and health are inextricably linked. Experts associate weather conditions with various diseases, either from direct physical effects of weather or from secondary causes. Some people who are at risk for certain illnesses may find that warm, dry climates can help them lead healthier lives.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living in areas with a large amount of sunlight could be beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis. With a lot of sunshine comes a boost of Vitamin D, which can help prevent bone density loss. This is crucial, because both the arthritis itself and associated drug treatments can decrease bone density.

Crohn's Disease

If you live in a northern climate, Crohn's disease is more common, particularly in urban areas. It could result from less sunlight or UVB radiation in these northern areas as your body creates less vitamin D and doesn't get the immunity boost that a sunny climate can provide. This information might encourage people with a family history of Crohn's, for example, to live in warmer, sunnier climates. However, if individuals with the condition do live in such places, they must be particularly adamant about proper hydration to avoid worsening their symptoms.

Heart Disease

The American Heart Association reports that very cold temperatures can exacerbate heart disease and "increase a person's risk of heart attack due to overexertion." People with heart disease may also experience angina pectoris (chest pain or discomfort) in colder weather.

Fewer Weather-Related Deaths

The AHA states that, "As people age, their ability to maintain a normal internal body temperature often decreases. Because elderly people seem to be relatively insensitive to moderately cold conditions, they can suffer hypothermia without knowing they're in danger." Hypothermia is when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit and can be fatal if not treated right away.

According to the World Health Organization, warmer climates may contribute to fewer winter deaths. The National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, performed a study based on death-certificate data from 2006 through 2010, and the results showed that around 2,000 Americans died from weather-related causes each year, and there were actually a little more than twice as many winter deaths as summer deaths.

A warm, dry climate isn't for everyone, but if you believe that the effects of weather and health are influencing your daily life, speak with your doctor to determine if a change of scenery could benefit your health and happiness.

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