What is Barometric Pressure?
Barometric pressure (BP) refers to the force exerted against a surface due to atmospheric pressure differences. These pressures are measured at various locations around the world using instruments called barometers. Atmospheric pressure varies throughout the day and night depending on location, time of year, season, altitude and other factors. When these conditions change, such as during a thunderstorm or snow storm, air near ground level will rise causing it to become compressed under its own weight. This compression causes the air to expand slightly above it. If the pressure difference between the two levels is large enough, they will combine into one higher pressure than what existed before.
The amount of pressure differential depends on several factors including temperature, humidity and wind speed. The greater the difference between these three, the larger the increase in pressure that occurs.
For example, if the air temperature was 10°C and there were no wind, then the pressure would only be 1 mmHg. However, if the air temperature was -10°C and there were a strong wind blowing, then the pressure could reach 2 mmHg. Similarly, if humidity was 0% and there were no winds blowing, then the pressure would only be 0.1 mmHg. If the temperature was 100% and there were no wind, then the pressure would be 1.1 mmHg. These are all just hypothetical examples to give a better understanding of what happens.
During fair weather, air pressure is highest at sea level. The further away you go from this point, the lower the barometric pressure will get.
During a storm, or other dramatic changes in the weather, the pressure can change quite significantly. Since your body is used to a certain level of pressure, these changes can cause temporary discomfort or pain.
Related: Types of Pain and Common Causes
4 Tips for Dealing with Barometric Pressure Discomfort
If you know that there is an incoming storm, or that the weather is going to change dramatically, there are some things you can do to alleviate discomfort. Here are some tips for dealing with barometric pressure discomfort.
1. Move Closer to Ground Level
If you are on a high floor in a tall building, or at a campsite at a high altitude, then moving closer to ground level can help reduce barometric pressure pain. This is also true if you are at a lower elevation and the weather is going to change.
While this isn’t always possible, it’s good to know that this can help when it is an option.
2. Get into a Warm Bath
Taking a warm bath can help relieve barometric pressure pain by raising your body temperature. This is helpful in two ways.
First, it helps to alleviate the pain. Second, it effectively lowers your body temperature back to what it was before the pressure change occurred.
3. Take Extra Medication
If you know that a storm is coming or other weather change, then taking extra medication before it occurs can help. Antacids can be taken 1-2 hours before the event to help reduce acid reflux or heartburn, while pain medications can help with headaches or joint pain.
4. Increase Body Temperature
In general, the body has more difficulty maintaining a normal temperature when the barometric pressure is lower. This is why people feel colder during the winter and why heating is more expensive.
One way to counteract this is to use a heating pad on a low setting for 20 minutes. It is also helpful to take a warm bath or use a warm spray. Both of these options can help your body maintain a normal temperature, thus reducing barometric pressure related pain.
5. Avoid Exertion
If you know that the weather is going to change, then it is best to avoid strenuous activity. This includes working out at the gym or going for a run.
It also includes more ordinary actions such as cleaning your house or doing yard work. These types of activities will cause your body to exert more energy, thus increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to barometric pressure related pain.
6. Try Mind Over Muscle Techniques
There are some mind over muscle techniques that can help you to deal with barometric pressure discomfort. The two that are the most helpful for this condition are progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.
With these methods, you focus on tensing and relaxing particular muscles in your body. This has the effect of relieving stress and muscular tension.
You can also try guided imagery to help distract your mind from the pain you are feeling. This is a technique where you picture yourself in a relaxing environment.
Some people find that the beach is most relaxing, while others prefer a meadow or even an interior space such as a library or reading room.
In both cases, these techniques are most helpful for providing quick relief from barometric pressure pain.
7. Focus on Your Breathing
Sometimes, people hold their breath or take shallow breaths when they are experiencing pain. This is sometimes due to stress or anxiety, but it can also be a habit that has developed over time.
Mindful breathing can help you to both relax and to relieve pain.
Sit in a comfortable position and put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
Now, take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth for a count of four. Do this three more times.
While this exercise is going on, pay attention only to the hand on your stomach. Try not to let other thoughts bother you.
8. Use Biofeedback Equipment
Biofeedback is a technique where you can learn how to control certain processes in your body, such as muscle tension or skin temperature. This type of equipment is sometimes hard to find, but can be a good investment if you suffer from barometric pressure pain on a regular basis.
9. Get Insulated Doors and Windows
Keeping doors and windows well-sealed can help prevent outside pressure from entering your home. This is particularly important for doors since they usually feature lots of cracks and crevices that let in outside air.
For windows, it’s a good idea to get double or even triple pane windows to avoid outside air from seeping in.
10. Try an Air Purifier
Especially if you have chemical sensitivities, an air purifier can be a good idea. These devices can eliminate pet dander, dust, and other airborne irritants.
This helps to keep your air clean and free of things that can cause allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
These tips are only 10 of the many out there for helping to alleviate barometric pressure discomfort and pain. If you are suffering from this condition, talk to your doctor about it.
He or she will be able to offer other tips and advice based on your specific needs and situation.
Barometric pressure changes can cause pain for sensitive individuals. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this issue.
Try some of these ten tips and keep an eye on barometric pressure changes to avoid pain in the future.
Always consult with a doctor or medical professional before trying any tips in this article at your own risk.
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