Weather and your health

Thursday, December 13th 2007, 11:48 am
By: News 9

Mother Nature has been blamed for all kinds of ailments; there is even an "Aches and Pains" weather forecast.

Studies have linked arthritis, asthma, migraines and other ailments to temperature, humidity, air pressure or wind. During both warm and cool months, respiratory problems can arise from poor air quality. In the spring and summer high ozone, the main ingredient of smog, can cause a number of respiratory problems.

The "Ozone Season" for Oklahoma begins May 1 and runs through the end of September. During these warm months weather conditions and hydrocarbon emissions combine to create ground level ozone. Ozone can irritate your respiratory system, making you cough, or irritating your throat. It can also affect your lung function, making it difficult to breathe as deeply and vigorously as you would normally.

Ozone can also aggravate asthma; one reason is because ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens, which are the most common triggers for asthma attacks. Ozone may also permanently damage your lungs. In children ozone damage can affect their developing lungs and in adults it may accelerate the natural decline in lung function.

In Oklahoma, Ozone Alerts are issued on days when ozone levels are expected to be high. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality maintains a network of air quality monitoring stations. Those stations are used to determine if cities across the state meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. To see up-to-date ozone readings, check out

The "Ozone Season" for Oklahoma begins May 1st and runs through the end of September. It's during these warm months that the weather conditions and hydrocarbon emissions combine to create ground level ozone. However, respiratory illnesses can also be a problem in the cooler months. This is because the cold air traps pollutants close to the ground. Those pollutants could diminish lung function, leaving you susceptible to indoor allergies or asthma.


When that cold air pushes out of Oklahoma and the warm breezes return, so too do the seasonal allergies.

Thousands of Oklahomans and millions of Americans suffer from sneezing, coughing, runny noses and itchy, watering eyes when the pollen starts to fly. While the mission of pollen is to fertilize plants, many never reach their target; instead they make an unscheduled detour up your nose, or into your throat. Those particles can trigger an allergic reaction called pollen allergy, or seasonal allergic rhinitis - otherwise known as hay fever or rose fever. And there's bad news if you live in Oklahoma. In their 2007 Fall Allergy Capitals, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked Tulsa number four.  Coming in fifth was Oklahoma City.

The best way to avoid allergy-sparking pollen is to stay inside, but since that's not much fun you can manage your allergies by checking the day's Pollen Report.

UV Rays

Besides pollen, the sun can be another warm weather foe. When the mercury begins to rise in Oklahoma the shorts, short -leeved shirts and sandals come out of the closet exposing more of our skin to UV rays.

While the sun has its benefits, like vitamin D formation, its UV rays can have ill-health effects. Ultraviolet rays have been linked to:

  • Skin Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Pterygium (tissue growth that can block vision)
  • Degeneration of the Macula (the part of the retina where visual perception is most acute)
  • Premature Aging of the Skin
  • Actinic Keratoses
  • Sunburns
  • Weakening of the Immune System

To avoid the strongest UV sunlight:

  • Stay Out of the Sun Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Stay Away from Tanning Parlors and Sunlamps (they emit UV rays)
  • Always Use Sunscreens with An SPF of 15 Or Higher
  • And remember, cloud cover in the Sooner State does not protect you from UV rays. You can get sunburned on a cloudy day just like a sunny one. To protect your eyes from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays wear sunglasses that block UV rays.

For today's UV forecast visit the nationwide UV Index.