Healthbeat Report: Forecasting your health

May 7, 2009 9:23:35 PM PDT
Find out about a new way to get personal alerts about the changing weather and how it can affect medical conditions.Daily pollen counts have been helping people with allergies for years. But now patients with conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can get a heads-up when they might be most susceptible to flare-ups due to weather. And it comes from a Web site providing daily alerts.

Midwest weather can turn on a dime. And have you ever noticed that when a front is coming through you just don't feel as well. Maybe your bones begin to ache or sinuses start acting up. Many of us have the sneaky suspicion the weather is to blame.

Jenni Prokopy is well aware of this and that's why this tech savvy asthma patient is doing something different this season she's counting on a web site called MediClim.com to warn her about weather changes 24 hours before they happen.

Click here to find out the national pollen count on abc7chicago.com

"They remind me to carry my inhaler even if I am going to go for a short walk around the neighborhood," said Jenni Prokopy, asthma patient.

For instance when pollen counts are high and the wind is kicking up these conditions can aggravate asthma patients.

A doctor and meteorologist team from Canada designed the health weather service. They say it's based on decades of research, showing a link between the weather and a variety of medical conditions.

The free site sends emails warning of forecast changes to those with asthma, arthritis, diabetes heart disease and migraines.

"What I would like people to understand is that most subtle changes in the weather produce subtle changes in your health," said Dr. John Bart, Co-Founder, MediClim.com.

Dr. John Bart says the site is programmed to recognize weather patterns that are known to trigger health problems in your specific area. For instance warm or cold fronts may set off headaches or migraines while chilly weather can aggravate heart conditions and high humidity may give asthma patients trouble.

With these alerts, patients can take simple preventative measures.

Allergist Joseph Leija knows about the relationship between weather and good health. For years he has been climbing to the roof of Gottleib Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park. There a special device captures tiny bits of pollen.

Dr. Leija collects the samples then painstakingly counts the particles. Then using a complicated weather based formula he predicts how much pollen will be in the air. That information can help people with allergies and asthma control their symptoms.

"They don't go and run during the early morning when there is pollen in the air. They take the proper medication for their nose and this way can control the conditions much better," said Dr. Joseph Leija, allergist, Gottleib Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Leija has had years of training in this field and cautions patients to know their source especially if they are getting their information on line.

Jenni still relies on her doctor for asthma treatment but thinks the internet alerts help keep her more involved in her care.

"Knowing when my symptoms might be flaring up by changing my lifestyle in a certain way makes a lot more sense then me having a flare up and going to the hospital," said

The Mediclim site is free.

Dr. Leija provides pollen counts for ABC7's 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. newscasts.


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