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Simmy

Linking Barometric Pressure And How We Feel

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With my form of POTS, tachycardia with occasional orthostatic hypotension, I find that the lower the barometric pressure the worse I feel, plain and simple. Do you agree?

I've noticed that whenever the weather gets bad, usually accompanied by an approaching low pressure system, my symptoms become exacerbated, like faster heart rates and more severe dizziness and headaches. On the other hand, when barometric pressure is high I seem to feel better, can stand longer, suffer less dizziness and headaches, and I'm even able to get some light chores done.

This would explain problems with altitude too because pressure drops as altitude increases. Early on in 2008 before I was diagnosed I had a major episode during a flight from Florida to New Jersey and airline air pressure is very low, about 23.00 inHg, where normal sea level pressure is 29.93.

Does any of this sound familiar?

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I don't have POTS but I do get frequent migraines and barometric pressure definitely has a part in my headaches. Same goes for my mother, who suffers from daily migraines. Her and I will both have headaches on the same days when barometric pressure fluctuates. So I'm sure the same goes for your symptoms.

Brenda

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Me too. My family swears I'm a human barometer. Fronts are known to make migraines worse but I get all of my POTS symptoms in full gear as well. I don't get the mechanics of why this happens but would love to know more.

-dizzyde

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Human barometer. Perhaps there is a steady employment opportunity for me yet!!! :)

I guess there are a few circulatory barometric sensors... you can apparently do some weird stuff with "suction" on the carotid (more than just a hickie, that is). There might be pressure sensing of different "cavities" of the body... not sure about that but no reason "stretch" receptors all over can't form an indirect measure here. There are indirect effects of pressure (and so called "partial pressures") on any gas exchange going on, which is probably in a few places. Not sure exactly how/where it is "exposed" to external realms, but internal CNS pressure is said to be fundamental to central autonomic calibration.

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certainly when the weather changes, for a few days i will feel unwell, more unwell than usual. chest feels tight, and more out of breath standing. after a while it eases until the next season.

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yes I notised this , a few days ago we had rain and the skys were grey and heavy ,

I felt so dizzy all day and could walk straight. I wasnt sure if it was migraine or OH.

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Absolutely! It's something I've talked about many time.....I am much worse on a rainy, damp day...head pressure and dizziness knocks me down for the count. I believe the pressure is one reason POTS patients are advised not to fly....

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We all seem to agree there is a definite cause and effect to this. I've suspected it for a long time so I began tracking my symptoms along with barometer readings and found a direct correlation.

I took it a step further and recorded my sleeping heart rates for exactly nine nights in a row back in February (using a Polar heart rate monitor and a SmartSync heart rate data logger) along with the barometric pressure in my bedroom before falling asleep. The results, although certainly not conclusive, did reveal an interesting pattern. Every night my heart rate bottomed out at a low of exactly 40bpm, except for two nights in a row, February 24th and 25th, when the lows were 42 and 43 respectively. Is it coincidence that on the evening of the 24th that monster 2-foot snowstorm moved into the northeast, with a pressure of 29.04 the first night and 28.62 the second, while all the other nights the pressure was above 29.50? I think not.

By the way, my home is about 300 feet above sea level so 'normal' barometric pressure here is further dropped to 29.63 instead of 29.93 and I check the pressure using an accurate barometer in my room.

Expanding on the medical explanation given by Erik, we've all heard that swimming is fantastic for us because of the water pressure, so I assume air pressure should have a similar effect, although not as profound. Above every human is a column of air reaching all the way up to space. This column weighs something and is physically pushing down on our bodies. When a "Low Pressure System" (a storm) moves overhead, the column of air above us literally weighs less, lessening the compression on our vessels, which causes our symptoms to become exacerbated. A high pressure system has the opposite effect, sort of like compression hose. Makes sense?

I even asked my PotsDoc if he would give me a prescription to hang out for awhile in a hyperbaric chamber (used to alleviate symptoms of decompression sickness in scuba divers) to see if that helps. He refused, adding that while it might make me feel better during compression, as soon as I exit I'd probably feel worse than I did before I entered it, and I believe he's right.

I'm still searching for a cave or a mine nearby that goes deep underground where pressure is much higher, so I can further test this theory. The closest I've found so far is the middle of the Lincoln tunnel, but I don't think they'd appreciate me parking there for an hour to test, and that's nowhere near deep enough. I'm looking for at least 1,000 feet below sea level to raise pressure from 29.93 to about 31.00. Anyone know of such a place in or near New Jersey, open to the public?

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Definitely. We had a few weeks of rain horrible rain here in the NE which were miserable for me. Sometimes I can tell when it's going to rain the next day b/c I don't sleep well the night before.

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Yes, me too!

The strange thing about weather and me is that contrary to most, I feel much better in warm, tropical areas like South Florida. The salt water in the air from the ocean does something good for me. It doesn't work in areas like the coast of CA.

Do you all think that could be because of the differences in altitude?

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i feel much better when its cold, rainy and clowdy. Last Thursday and today the weather has changed into much warmer temperatures and both days, especially today, i feel really symptomatic. I even had to leave work earlier today because i felt so sick. All the people around me love the nice and warm spring weather and i wish it would get cold and rainy again.

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Thank you all for your responses.

McBlonde - I guess that depends on where in California you were, as you can get from sea level all the way up to 5,000 feet or more in the mountains. You could also go to Death Valley and get down to about 300 feet below sea level, which would feel great, but the heat would probably kill you in minutes.

As a general rule of thumb, for every 100 feet you gain in altitude you lose about 0.10 inHg in barometric pressure, so when the weather is average (not great but not bad) and the accompanying pressure at sea level is 29.93, at 500 feet above sea level the pressure would be about 29.43. Obviously, the opposite is also true.

At sea level, on a beautiful day with really high pressure, the barometer might hit as high as 30.30, whereas a hurricane could get to as low as 29.00 or lower. Remember, barometric pressure changes are due to a combination of both weather AND altitude, so that same hurricane at 2,000 feet would feel like 27.00.

It's very interesting that you attribute feeling better with the saltwater in the air near the ocean. I'd never thought of that and I wonder how much salt the body can absorb from the air in that scenario. Intriguing!

Carinara - Let's not confuse barometric pressure with temperature. While pressure changes have their ups and downs as discussed above, temperature also can have a detrimental effect on us, as most of us also suffer from heat intolerance. Speaking from my own experiences, I feel much better in cold than I do in heat. For me, the very best days I've had have been on cold, sunny days, and my worst have been during summer storms.

Also, please keep in mind that just because it's cloudy and/or raining, doesn't necessarily mean the pressure is down. Clouds and rain (or snow) can develop from sources other than a low pressure system. For instance, a summer thunderstorm can materialize simply from warm air hitting cold air, while pressure remains high, and a heavy blanketing of snow can be caused by cold air traveling across warm water (lake-effect). On the other hand, it is also possible to be under low pressure even though it's sunny, so a check of an accurate barometer is needed.

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McBlonde:

The strange thing about weather and me is that contrary to most, I feel much better in warm, tropical areas like South Florida. The salt water in the air from the ocean does something good for me. It doesn't work in areas like the coast of CA.

Simmy said:

McBlonde - I guess that depends on where in California you were, as you can get from sea level all the way up to 5,000 feet or more in the mountains. You could also go to Death Valley and get down to about 300 feet below sea level, which would feel great, but the heat would probably kill you in minutes.

Most of the time I feel like I have a weight on my chest, like I just can't take a deep enough breath. When I am in Florida in the ocean air, that heaviness completely goes away.

The only places I have been in CA are coastal areas, from San Diego to San Francisco. While there is an ocean and beach and warm weather especially in San Diego, it just doesn't work like the Florida coast for me. I don't get that feeling of being able to breath deep, etc.

What's the difference between the coasts of FL and CA..... humidity? Maybe there is more salt in the air in FL than CA?

One thing I remember my doctor telling me was that it wasn't so much what the barometric pressure was, it was how often and how drastically it changes versus living in an area where it was more constant.

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I've noticed for years that my migraines are triggered by barometric pressure changes. With this last flare with this dysautonomia stuff, since last July, I've noticed that my symptoms are MUCH worse on stormy days. Didn't make sense to me, but it definitely correlates for me.

Simmy- thanks for the idea to check the barometer on sunny days. Since I've started a new med routine and have been feeling better, most of my bad days now are limited to stormy days. Occasionally though they still occur on sunny days. I'm going to start checking the barometric pressure around here more often! Unfortunately can't do much about the altitude out here.... we're a mile high.

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McBlonde - You're right of course, a coast is a coast, sea level is obviously the same and as you suggested, the only clear difference is the humidity. It could also be the smog or air quality differences between the two locations. Who knows, there are more possible causes of POTS symptoms than all the stars in the galaxy.

I also agree that sudden barometric pressure changes affect us negatively too, in this case up or down. There's a relatively steep road I travel regularly that leads to my neighborhood that rises from 20 feet to 280 feet in less than a quarter of a mile (yes, besides the barometer I also have an altimeter on my watch). Every time I drive it, whether up or down, I feel like my head is being compressed in a vise.

Chaos - A mile high. Ouch! That's gotta hurt. My wife and I drove to a new restaurant about a year ago before I knew about this reaction to altitude and after about an hour there I became too nauseous to eat. I later found out it was about 1,800 feet up. I can only imagine your altitude to be comparable to my horrible airline flight.

Do you feel a substantial difference when you get close to sea level? How long does it take for the effects to materialize? I'd also be interested to know what your barometer reads on a nice day. I'm guessing around 25.00?

Thanks

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When a storm system is approaching, I get terrible headaches until it starts to rain or snow for a day or so.

My question, and I have not been able to come up with any kind of answer

Is there any way to avoid this? Can a person change the barometric pressure in their house?

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Simmy -- the closest thing I could find to New Jersey is the Lackawanna coal mine tour in Scranton PA (2 hours away from central Jersey). it goes 300 feet under the ground. My initial thought was Luray Caverns in Virginia, but I know that's not exactly too close to you. Given that it's in the mountains, even if it's under the ground, I'm not sure how low it is relative to sea level.

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It's really interesting to read this.

One of my symptoms is very cold extremities. In winter it's bad on cold, clear days, but worse on wet, warmer days. I'd noticed the correlation with damp weather, but I'd never thought about the barometric pressure.

Does barometric pressure have a significant effect on blood pressure and/or blood volume? :lol:

Since developing POTS, I have been in the UK, which I think has few very high or very low pressures. But they do change a lot (hence Brit's obsessive weather chat). I'd be very interested to see what I'd be like in a different climate.

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Well, we have another storm coming in so the barometric pressure is 29.83 and falling and my headache has started.

Simmy, it's very humid in Louisiana, where I live, so (for me) it must be a combination of humid (salt water filled air)

and consistency (so my body doesn't have to adjust itself all the time). That's my theory.

I know I am different than most people here. Maybe that's because I am hypothyroid and have a problem with cold intolerance.

Okay, this is going to sound stupid, but even though they are both at sea level, doesn't Key West seem "lower" than San Diego? :lol:

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Jan - To answer your question as to whether or not it's possible to change the barometric pressure in your home - technically yes, in reality no. You'd need to seal your entire home, top to bottom, to be completely air-tight, and then compress the air inside by use of a powerful fan forcing outside air inwards with no possible means of escape. Not very feasible.

Dakota - Thanks. I'll look into the Lackawanna coal mine. It's 300 feet deep, but do you know how far below sea level that is? I'll try to check it on Google Earth when I have the energy to get to my computer. This is from my phone.

Noodlemaster - I'm no doctor or scientist, but I'd think with greater air pressure pushing down on the body it would naturally constrict the blood vessels, which should therefore boost blood pressure, which is why we're assuming higher barometric pressure makes us feel better. I don't know how it would affect blood volume.

McBlonde - Sounds logical. Although I've heard from others that humidity exacerbates symptoms, your constant climate might be beneficial, along with the salty air. I like your theory. I think you mean Key West is lower in latitude than San Diego (closer to the equator on the globe) but all open ocean shore lines are at exactly sea level (depending on tide). And nothing sounds stupid... we have POTS :rolleyes:

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McBlonde - Those of us suffering from POTS with low blood pressure and pooling have all been advised to increase our salt intake to boost blood volume. We're constantly breathing in nitrogen, oxygen and other trace elements with every breath we take, but when in your part of the country it's quite obvious the air is saltier - you can smell it and taste it, so there's no reason to believe that the higher salt content in the air doesn't become absorbed with inhalation. Since higher humidity opens pores, it's also theoretically possible for the salty air to be absorbed through the skin. I have no evidence or quantifiable data to support this, it's just a theory.

On a side note, I've heard for years that psoriasis is greatly improved, as are other illnesses, by a visit to the Dead Sea in Israel. I wonder if any of us have been there and noticed substantial improvements, if only temporarily. The location has many advantages, like the outrageously high salt content (higher than anywhere else on earth), well below sea level, and it almost never rains (barometer is always high). Unfortunately it's also very hot there year round (90's to low 100's), so that might negate the benefits.

Now my PotsHead is taking it further. I wonder if any of us have found relief by bathing at home with sea salts. Hmmm?

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Simmy, I should clarify, I now live in Northern Louisiana.

It's when we go to the coast in Florida that I have improvement. (my theory now is the humidity carrying salt water in the air I breath in.)

One thing I have noticed on my labs here at home is that my CO2 levels are always high.

I used to use sea salt in my jacuzzi tub for muscle aches and it was great. Now my BP goes too low and my HR too high in hot water.

There was something on Dr. Oz today regarding a thing he had that allowed you to breath in sea salt. Let me look that up.

Headache today - Barometric pressure 29.90 and rising

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