Common Illness Caused By… Montana Weather?
If you feel ill every time a storm hangs above your town in Montana, you are not alone.
It's snowing as I write this atop the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Billings. I feel pressure in all of my joints, especially my jaw and neck. I suffered for years without answers. Doctors chalked it up to being dehydrated or having low blood sugar, but that’s not the case at all. You may think I’m super sensitive, or it’s all in my head. 😐 But I finally got answers.
Barometric Pressure Illness a very real thing that other Montanans experience.
Medical News Today says 1 out of 3 Americans experience this same feeling when a storm is in the forecast.
Changes in atmospheric pressure can create an imbalance in the pressure within the sinus cavities and the structures and chambers of the inner ear, resulting in pain.”
This makes so much sense once you figure location, elevation, weather, etc. Your ears pop in air planes due to the pressure, and same when weather arrives in Montana or driving in the mountains. See?? I'm not crazy.😉 If you are the 2/3 of Americans that don't feel this at all, consider yourself lucky.
Barometric Pressure Illness symptoms
Nausea, headaches, fatigue, frequent yawning, ear popping, jaw and neck tension, dizziness, confusion, irritability, mood changes like anxiety or depression, memory difficulties, and poor sleep quality.
These symptoms would make anyone think they’re coming down with the flu... but that’s literally why we have the phrase, "Under the weather." Mind blown right?
According to the American Migraine Foundation, over a third of people with migraine report that certain weather patterns trigger their headaches, at least some of the time.
I fall into that category of people. One doctor finally did confirm that barometric pressure changes obviously affect me if I only feel weird during a storm. Finally! I was validated. And had answers.
This is part of the reason I moved from 6,780 feet above sea level to 3,000 feet. If I go to Red Lodge, my symptoms get a bit wonky and more painful. But I've learned to manage it. Hooray!
Treatment for barometric pressure headaches:
- over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- anti-nausea medications
- limit caffeine and alcohol
- limit exercise
- get plenty of rest
- learning to breathe through the pain and relaxation techniques
- avoiding noisy, bright lit areas
- ice packs on head and neck
If you do suffer from barometric head and body aches, know you're not alone. Rest, meds, and quiet moments to take deep breaths has helped me. And I hope this helped you!