7 Ways Sudden Weather Changes Can Affect Your Health

Climate change experts have stated that hotter temperatures aren't the only thing that will result from increased carbon in the atmosphere. Another serious effect is wild weather. During the week of February 15, a severe snow and ice storm and frigid temperatures affected the Midwest to the Deep South, plunging Texas and other states into a deep freeze. Texas operates a privatized energy grid, and it couldn't handle the increased demand and severely cold weather. The result has been widespread power outages, rolling blackouts, burst municipal pipes, burst household pipes and major damage all over the state. These wild weather changes and severe weather events can also affect your health in these seven ways.

1. Increased Stress

Dealing with sudden weather changes can increase your stress level. You might be worried about damage to your home from severe weather. For example, the homeowners in Texas whose water pipes burst after their heat went out may incur thousands of dollars in repairs. You may also be stressed about whether or not you are prepared for severe weather. For example, low-income people may not be able to stockpile an extra week's worth of food and personal care items for each member of their household.

2. Decreased Immunity

Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which leads to widespread inflammation. This inflammation decreases the effectiveness of your immune system. During the winter months of the year, a sudden weather change could lead to lower immunity to the common cold, influenza and other common illnesses that circulate through airborne droplets. If you're not able to fight off these germs, you could get seriously ill.

3. Increased Allergy or Asthma Symptoms

Sudden weather changes may trigger your allergy or asthma symptoms. A heat wave often brings with it high ozone levels. This air pollutant makes it more difficult for sensitive individuals to breathe when outdoors. Frigidly cold, dry air often leads to asthma attacks. A prolonged period of wet weather or a flooding rain could exacerbate mold growth, which also triggers allergy or asthma symptoms in many people.

4. More Anxiety

Many people feel anxiety about the weather. If a weather alert pops up on your phone, you might feel distracted by it and worry about whether you'll be safe where you are. You may wonder whether it's best to go home if you're at work or stay where you're at. You may worry about members of your household who are nearby but not with you. If you have a pet at home, you might worry about whether or not your pet will be okay during a severe storm or sudden weather change.

5. Higher Risk of Auto Accidents

Some severe weather events can trigger a higher risk of auto accidents. For example, the recent multi-car pile-up in Nashville, which led to dozens of injuries. Earlier this week, a chain-reaction accident involving more than 100 vehicles occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If you're already a nervous or edgy driver, a sudden weather change could increase your stress and affect your reaction time and ability to respond to the road conditions.

6. Enhanced Risk of Injuries

Sudden weather changes can also put you at risk of injuries. In particular, slip-and-fall accidents are common on slick surfaces. If you didn't salt your steps or driveway, you might find that your feet fly out from under you as soon as you take a step. A fall onto concrete or asphalt can cause fractures, a concussion and other injuries that require prompt treatment. Black ice in parking lots, poorly cleared sidewalks and steps and hidden potholes could also lead to slip-and-fall accidents.

7. Muscle and Joint Injuries

If there's a sudden break in the winter weather, you might be tempted to go on a long walk, run or bike ride. You might decide that it's time to hike up that hill or mountain. However, if your muscles have been weakened by inactivity, you're putting yourself at risk of a joint or muscle injury. A sudden burst of activity after a prolonged period of inactivity causes acute stress on your body. This is also called "weekend warrior syndrome." If you've been itching to get out of the house and enjoy nature, take it slow. Instead of an eight-hour hike on the first nice day after months of foul weather, consider a two-hour hike at a moderate pace.

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