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It's not a myth — big temperature drops really do affect those with chronic disease, doctor says

Posted at 9:24 AM, Oct 10, 2019

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After a beautiful, sunny, warm day in Denver Wednesday, a big cool down came to Colorado on Thursday.

It’s a change Melaine Grein could feel in her joints even before the snow began to fall.

“I can feel it in my ankle and I know the weather is going to change before it even does just because it hurts. It’s really stiff,” Grein said.

Grein hurt her ankle a couple of years ago and says she’s been able to feel temperature changes in it ever since.

“It’s just affected by the weather, cold, rain, everything,” she said. “I’ve told my friend before that I think it’s going to rain and then it did.”

Grein isn’t the only one who says she can feel the weather change. Many people with arthritis pain say they can feel it in their joints or bones.

At Englewood Primary Care in the Swedish Medical Center, Dr. Scott Joy says it isn’t an urban myth when people say they can feel the weather change.

“Big changes in temperature can change blood flow through the body,” Joy said. “Any time we get a large weather system moving through the area it changes the pressure, and people who have chronic joint pain will often notice more joint pain.”

A big temperature change can affect three groups of people in particular: those with heart disease, asthma or arthritis. The weather can pose serious health risks for all three groups, which is why Joy says it’s important to be prepared.

For people with heart disease, it’s important to have all of your medications on hand and to take them as prescribed. Joy says it’s also a good idea to have some nitroglycerin on hand.

If people experience pain in their chest or shortness of breath with the weather change, it’s important to seek medical help.

“These are things that can actually lead to death and serious morbidity and mortality. It can lead to unnecessary ER visits, it can lead to long hospital stays, it can even lead to stays in the intensive care unit if you have a severe event,” Joy said.

For people with asthma, along with having their chronic inhaler on hand, it’s important to keep a rescue inhaler nearby since the weather change can trigger some inflammation in the upper airways.

For those with chronic joint pain, it’s important to have an anti-inflammatory on hand in case the temperature change causes pain.

For everyone else, it’s important to bundle up and protect your skin.

“You are at real risk for skin damage and dry skin and frostbite,” Joy said.

As always, Joy says it’s also a good idea to stay hydrated as well and don’t overexert yourself.

This story was originally published by Meghan Lopez on KMGH.