Health & Science

Why Your Aches And Pains May Be Linked To Houston’s Big Storms

We’ve been telling you how the recent flooding has been damaging homes and ranches in our area. But could it also be hurting your health?

Floodwaters
Floodwaters from the Brazos River at Rivers Edge in Richmond, Texas on Friday, June 3, 2016.

In places like Richmond on the Brazos River, some residents had to use kayaks to get around as floodwaters last week forced thousands to evacuate, including Mary Doetterl.

She said she’d never seen weather like what we’ve had this past year.

“With the rain and the flooding, it’s crazy,” she told News 88.7.

You can’t blame people for being sick of the all the rain and high water. But some of them might be able to blame all the rain and high water for making them sick.

“If I had to say anything, I’d say mood is the biggest thing we’ve noted,” says Dr. Grant Fowler who teaches and practices family medicine with University of Texas at Houston. “More people anxious, more people agitated, depressed, sleep disruption. I’d say those are the kinds of things we’re seeing the most of with this kind of weather.”

But could the rainy weather have also made some people suffer physical ailments?

Studies have shown that weather patterns that brought Houston so much warm wet weather — those areas of low pressure — might cause increases in arthritis and migraine headaches. It’s believed that when the barometric pressure drops, it makes the tissue in our bodies expand, resulting in inflammation that can cause pain.

“Some people can tell us almost to the hour when we’re going to have a storm, because their joints will notice a difference, start getting aches and pains in their joints,” says Dr. Fowler.

People who study the weather’s effect on us are called biometeorologists. They say there could be more to come: more allergy outbreaks because of more mold and mildew and more illness from mosquitoes that thrive in wet weather.

“Biggest issues would be mold and mosquitoes in terms of health effects,” says Jennifer Vanos, professor of Atmospheric Science at Texas Tech University.

But Dr. Fowler says in Houston, these sorts of things aren’t exactly unusual.

“Even with all the floods and rain we’ve had, to be honest, I don’t want anybody to panic, because we have this kind of moist climate pretty much all the time.”

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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