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Feeling Under the Weather? You Could Blame it on the Storm

by Colleen P Moyne (Colmo) (follow)
I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in SA, dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full time.
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Girl in Storm
Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

Have you ever noticed how your mood changes before, during and after a storm? Thereís a science behind all that.

The study of how weather affects humans is called bio-meteorology, and to put it simply, storms are caused by the interaction of warm air and cold air in the atmosphere. This leads to fluctuations in the barometric pressure which, in turn, can affect us humans in a number of ways.

There are these tiny molecules in the atmosphere known as positive and negative ions. Positive ions are mostly carbon dioxide and are the result of pollution, dust and wind and are particularly abundant just before an electrical storm. They can cause us to feel tired, lethargic, irritable and anxious. Some people find that they experience headaches during this period.

Girl in Storm
Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

Negative ions, however, are much friendlier molecules. Their job is to attach themselves to the nasty pollution and dust and put them out of action. When a storm breaks and it begins to rain, these negative ions are at their peak and thatís when we feel their cleansing freshness. The same feeling can be caused by being in the proximity of rivers and waterfalls.

The increase in barometric pressure just before a storm can also trigger an asthma attack in sufferers. While some argue that it is because of the anxiety some people feel toward storms, there is also a scientific explanation. Up-drafts caused by the fluctuating air pressure lift pollens into the air where they are broken up. Down-drafts then pull them back down to earth where we get to breathe them in. When lightning flashes it produces nitrogen oxide gas, which, in turn, increases ozone at ground level, which can also trigger asthma.

Girl in Storm
Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

Some studies reveal that bio-metric pressure can affect the fluids in our bodies, leading to increased pressure on our joints. Hence the belief that aches or pains can predict a coming storm.

This drop in air pressure has also been linked to brain function. Stormy weather can lead to lack of concentration. Who among us hasnít felt the desire to curl up in bed and zone out on a stormy day?

The same principle is what led to the identification of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD.) Gloomy weather and decreased sunlight leads to increased melatonin in our bodies and decreased serotonin which makes us sleepy, affects our moods and can even lead to increased cravings for carbohydrates.

Image by Colleen P Moyne

So, taking all this into account, we can conclude that storms are not only a beautiful but sometimes terrifying natural phenomenon; they are also a force that can have a physical and emotional effect on our minds and bodies. Isnít Mother Nature amazing?

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What an interesting and insightful article!
The barometric pressure seems to affect me with my symptoms from Multiple Sclerosis, making me feel even more lame than usual.
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