I live in fear of the weather forecast for next Tuesday. For that matter, the following Saturday also doesn’t sound very promising. According to on-line forecasts, the weather is going to put arthritis sufferers at high risk of increased aches and pains. Several on-line weather services now provide daily advice about weather conditions for people with health conditions, giving advance notice that will allow them to plan appropriate activities. Amusingly, some on-line services also have indexes with warnings for bad hair days, mood swings, and attentiveness.
The AccuWeather.com website, for example, explains that it has developed a forecast that combines weather factors that may affect arthritis sufferers, and summarizes the potential likelihood and severity of weather-related arthritis pain. The website also provides indexes for migraines, sinus conditions, and respiratory issues, to name a few.
According to AccuWeather’s Customer Service, the indexes section is third-party generated. In an email, they explained that AccuWeather.com does not predict this information. Rather, an outside service evaluates the statistics and derives the forecasts. “The third party company takes our data and analyses the temperatures, pressure, humidity, etc. to determine the Arthritis forecasts,” they explained in the email.
This website classifies the daily forecast in a few ways: the weather can be neutral, beneficial, at risk or high risk for people with arthritis. Presumably, beneficial means you may be relieved of arthritis symptoms? But what to do when the weather forecast places arthritis sufferers at risk or even at high risk?
I’m not a meteorologist, but looking at various on-line forecasts, I see summer days in eastern Canada filled with thunderstorm warnings and lots of precipitation. When summer humidity levels rise and rainy days prevail, my arthritis symptoms (i.e. aches and pains) also soar. If you are already sensitized to swings in temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, you certainly will be as accurate as a weather service when it comes to knowing in advance that the weather is a-changing!
There’s no doubt that these on-line advisories provide valuable services for people with respiratory problems; asthma, for example, could be aggravated by weather conditions. Allergy sufferers would also benefit from advanced notice when ragweed or pollen levels are expected to be high. But what can people with arthritis do to prevent or brace if they are deemed at risk? Perhaps staying inside in a climate-controlled environment in anticipation of increased pain symptoms (and a bad hair day!) may be the only option.