Understanding How Weather Conditions Can Affect Your Health

Woodland Ridge Staff Information for Seniors, Senior Health Tags:
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Weather can affect your plans, your mood, and even your health. Each season or weather condition comes with challenges that can create changes in our bodies and how we feel.

Woodland Ridge, located in Smyrna, Georgia, understands how powerful weather can be (especially the Georgia humidity!). We’ve created this guide to help you understand various weather conditions and their impact on certain health conditions.

Cold Weather

Hypothermia

You may think that hypothermia only occurs in sub-zero temperatures or if you’ve been out in the snow for hours. In actuality, hypothermia is defined as having a core body temperature below 95 degrees. This means that even mild exposure to cold weather can bring about hypothermia.

Older adults are more vulnerable to hypothermia because they may have underlying health conditions or take certain medications, so it’s important to always be prepared for a drop in temperatures.

Respiratory Conditions

For those with chronic health conditions like asthma or COPD, cold temperatures can trigger symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. This happens because cold air can disrupt and narrow the airways, making it difficult to breathe.

Protecting Yourself Against The Cold

While colder weather can present certain challenges, especially for those with underlying health conditions, there are several easy ways to protect yourself.

  • Bundle up. First, always make sure that you’re properly dressed for cold temperatures. Wear layers of clothing (try to avoid cotton), and always make sure you have a hat, gloves or mittens, and a scarf. Covering your mouth and nose with a scarf can warm up the air that you breathe in and reduce symptoms.
  • Stay inside. If you can, it’s better to keep on the safe side and avoid the cold by staying indoors. Just make sure that your central heating is working and is set to a temperature of at least 68 degrees.

Hot and Humid Weather

High Blood Pressure

Extreme humidity levels, like those in the south, can have serious consequences for those living with high blood pressure. When there is a lot of moisture in the air, the body has a hard time sweating and cooling itself off, causing the heart to overexert itself. This can be a problem for adults with high blood pressure or other health conditions.

Heat Stress

Anyone can be vulnerable to heat stress, but adults 65 years and older are more susceptible. Whether it’s a medication, a chronic medical condition, or age-related changes that make it harder for our bodies to regulate heat, the risks for heat stress are high. Fortunately, heat stress can be easily avoided by taking precautions on particularly hot days.

Sunburn

As we age, our skin goes through changes that make it thinner and more easily damaged, increasing our risk for sunburn, as UV light can penetrate the skin more deeply. While some sun can be good for your skin, your health, and even your mood, too much sun can be damaging, so stay protected.

Protecting Yourself Against Hot and Humid Weather

Located in Smyrna, Georgia, Woodland Ridge knows that hot and humid weather is sometimes inevitable. Fortunately, most heat-related conditions and complications can be easily prevented. By taking the right measures, you can manage your health and avoid heat or humidity-related concerns.

  • Stay hydrated. Whenever it’s hot or humid, it’s vital to keep yourself hydrated, even if you don’t necessarily feel thirsty. Staying hydrated is one of the most effective ways to avoid heat stress and other heat-related complications.
  • Stay inside. Much like winter weather, it’s best to avoid the heat altogether. Staying indoors from noon to 4:00 pm when the sun is hottest can protect you from too much harmful sun exposure. If you do go out, make sure you’re wearing sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. 

Dry Weather

Respiratory Problems

Much like cold weather, dry weather climates can set off respiratory issues, especially in those with pre-existing health conditions. Low humidity and dry air can irritate your nasal passage and respiratory tract, causing flare-ups in people with asthma, COPD, or other conditions.

Protecting Yourself in Dry Weather Climates

While extremely dry weather can cause problems with breathing, there are easy ways to combat the dryness and avoid any health concerns.

  • Humidify your air. When the air is really dry, use a humidifier in your home. Adding moisture to the air can prevent breathing and other respiratory problems.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water will help bring some moisture back into your body. It will also soothe any respiratory irritation caused by dry weather conditions.

Managing Your Health in All Climates

Whether you live in a cold, dry climate, or a hot and humid one, knowing the impacts that weather can have on your health is valuable for staying healthy all year long—especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. By understanding these connections and knowing how to manage them, you can be healthy wherever you are!

Woodland Ridge encourages a healthy, informed life. For more articles on senior living and healthy aging, visit our Woodland Ridge blog!