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What should we do to effectively deal with meteorotropism, or weather ailmentsHints from Medical Journalist Jang Ik-kyung

The following article was contributed by Deputy Editor Jang Ik-kyung of WOW TV, the TV arm of the leading Korean-language economic daily, Hankuk Kyungje Shinmun.?Ed.

▲Hints from Medical Journalist Jang Ik-kyung

When it rains, you feel not as well as you do when the weather is fine. Doctors say that it is not just your feeling but that the rain actually affects your health. It is called meteorotropism, or weather ailments, which is a popular topic of discussion among Internet users these days. Here are questions and answersconcerning the weather ailments:

Question: Do weather changes really affect the physical/mental conditions of man?

Answer: Yes. In fact, in Germany the weathermen, when they give a forecast, they are known to also give a warning on weather diseases. They say, “Tomorrow we will have a low atmospheric pressure and a cold front and if you have rash (urticarial), please be careful.”

In Korea, from olden times, the senior citizens used to say: “My knees are aching and I must say it might rain soon.”

This should also be considered a sign of meteorotropism.

Q: Please explain a bit more about the meterorotropism.

A: Meteorotropism means diseases that come from changes in weather, humidity and atmospheric pressure. The human body has an adjustment function that keeps the body on a certain level of conditions. However, this function of adjustment becomes affected when the weather changes.

Q: So when the function of adjustment is affected, does it also affect the harmony of the mind and body, and cause an ailment?

A: Yes. I will cite an instance. Some people suffer from headache when there is a thick cloud or when it is a day before rain comes. This is also a kind of weather ailment. Experts say that it comes from changes in the proportion of anion and cation in the atmosphere. The ion near the surface of earth is mostly negative ion and when it rains or when it is cloudy positive ion increases in the low atmospheric pressure on the earth. And this decreases the secretion of serotonin in the body causing headache.

Q: During the change of seasons, people catch cold or get Momsal (aching from fatigue). They also catch air-conditioningitis in summer from excessive exposure to cold air. Are they also a kind of weather ailment?

A: Yes. Also affected by the weather are people suffering from asthma, myocardial infarction, neuralgia, rheumatism, appendicitis, thrombus and gallstone trouble. The patients of the intractable Behcet’s disease is also known to be affected by the weather change and so are the mental cases.

Q: We hear that when it is cold, patients of joint diseases must be very careful. Is this true?

A:Joint patients have pain in the joint when it is about to rain. This is because of the change in the atmospheric pressure. On a bright day, the internal organization of the joint maintains a balance with the external atmospheric pressure. When the pressure is low, it increases pressure inside the joint and also expands the joint fluid, which in turn irritates the cartilage and synovia, which causes the pain.

Q: When it rains, you feel somewhat depressed. Is this also related with the change of weather?

A: Yes. When it is cloudy or rainy, it decreases the secretion of serotonin (hormone that makes you feel good) and makes you feel tired, sleepy and/or depressed.

Q: Do you think that people suffering from depression must be careful?

A: Not only the temporary patients but also chronic mental cases are classified weather disease patients. When low pressure front approaches, it increases the acetylcholine in the body which disrupts the automatic nervous system and causes nervous anxiety. For your information, when it rains some people get rash and this is called ‘cold allergy’ which is also a kind of weather disease. This comes as histamine causes allergic rash on the skin.

Q: So, the weather changes really affect the physical conditions of man, much more than are commonly known. What are the conditions that cause the weather diseases?

A: Approach of low atmospheric pressure, passage of the cold front and the Foen phenomenon are known to affect the patents and this is known to derive from quick changes in pressure, temperature, humidity and wind.

Q: What should we do stay away from such ill effects of the weather changes?

A: Most important is to maintain the most comfortable atmosphere in the room. The optimum room temperatures are 18 to 20 degrees centigrade although it depends on the seasons. The optimum humidity is around 60 degrees.

It is also helps to have exercise, rest and hygienic care in order to improve one’s resistance against diseases. It is also recommendable to take a walk, jogging, aerobic exercise and to stimulate the foot sole.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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