This warm wind blows off the mountain ranges of southern Germany, Austria, and
Switzerland, bringing with it physical and emotional maladies for humans. When the
foehn winds arrive, people begin to report headaches, nausea, aching joints, fatigue,
irritability, apathy, and depression. Traffic accidents, too, occur more frequently.
Doctors are known to postpone surgeries because these winds increase chances of
hemorrhage, thrombosis, and embolism.
Roughly half of all Germans think of themselves as wetterfühlig (weather sensitive).
Discomfort usually occurs right before the foehn arrives, when temperatures rise and
humidity drops. Symptoms then fade as the wind becomes its most powerful.
The foehn is an “ill wind,” blamed for numerous human illnesses and troubles.
The Israelis have a wind they call the sharav. The Arabs name it the chamsin. France
calls it the autun, while in Yugoslavia it is known as the koschava. Each wind is
caused by slightly different combinations of weather and terrain, but each is hot, dry,
and unpleasant. In California (USA), the dusty, dry Santa Ana winds cause allergies and
sinus problems. Sometimes reaching wind strengths more powerful than that of a hurricane,
it can blow trucks off roads and encourage forest fires. Pulmonary problems and bloody
noses are also caused by the wind’s low humidity.
The relationship between wind, weather, and health has been recorded since ancient
times. Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, even used the onset of certain
diseases to predict the weather! He taught that mouth sores would bring warm southern
winds while the winds themselves caused headaches and torpor.
Modern science has proven the methods of Hippocrates to be erroneous, and researchers
are still unsure about the true effect of wind on human health. However, there is no
doubt that these “ill winds” can cause a lot of inconvenience for many people.