Why don’t we feel air pressure? It is something quite fascinating yet confusing to understand, right?
At sea level, the atmospheric pressure exerted upon us is roughly ten metric tons per square meter.
So, the act of standing straight requires the same effort as lifting a light car. But, why don’t we feel air pressure weigh down on us?
Of course, it is a good thing or that pressure might have crushed you. But why is the question?
We don’t feel air pressure weighing down on us because the air pressure inside our bodies cancels out that effect.
Why Don’t We Feel Air Pressure on Us?
The pressure caused by the atmospheric weight pressing down on Earth and everything else, including us, is known as air pressure.
Even though we are surrounded by air all the time, we do not normally sense its weight. But, why does that happen?
The answer to this question is rather straightforward.
For example, the air inside our bodies (in stomachs and lungs) exerts the same pressure externally, ensuring we do not feel any air pressure in our surroundings.
Fact: Air pressure is measured in milibars (mb) using the barometer, which was first invented by Evangelista Torricelli in 1644.
The Concept of Pressure Equalization
An important thing to keep in mind is that we can adjust the pressure in our body to suit our environment.
Human bodies are mostly made up of fluids and gases. It means they are subject to atmospheric pressure just like the rest of the world.
But, it does not work like this because of the pressure equalization.
Equalization is the process by which the air pressure in our stomach, lungs, and ears is balanced with the air pressure outside of our bodies.
And that is the reason why we do not experience any pain or pressure as a result of shifts in air pressure in these locations.
But there are many explanations for the question, “Why don’t we feel atmospheric pressure?”
Your Body Gets Used to the Pressure
Because air pressure is a constant, ever-present force, humans do not experience its weight for this and other reasons.
Over time, our bodies become acclimated to this level of stress.
As an analogy, consider how we rarely notice the effects of gravity or the weight of our clothing, despite the fact that they act upon us continually.
Fact: Low pressure surrounded by high pressure creates storms, as rising air from low pressure causes strong winds, and dark clouds if there is water in the atmosphere.
The Air Pressure is Uniform
The uniformity of Earth’s air pressure is an asset.
The force of this pressure is felt all around the world because air pressure is distributed evenly instead of being concentrated in one area.
While the effects of air pressure are real, they may not be as obvious as those caused by other types of pressure.
It is especially the case with the pressure applied by a huge item on a small region.
Your Body can Adapt to Changing Pressure
As mentioned already, the human body has the ability to gradually adapt to low or high air pressure.
This is why it is not uncomfortable or pressurizing for individuals to live at high altitudes, where the air pressure is lower than at sea level.
For instance, scuba divers are able to adapt to increasing water pressure as they go deeper into the ocean.
Their bodies can adjust to the pressure differences by balancing the air pressure inside of them with the water pressure outside of them.
An Important Thing to Consider
It is important to remember that air pressure does affect our bodies, albeit the changes are typically too slight to be noticed by the naked eye.
For instance, alterations in atmospheric pressure can trigger pain or discomfort in the ears and sinuses.
Breathing is another bodily function affected by air pressure, especially at high elevations when the air pressure is lower.
Nevertheless, the magnitude of these effects is typically too little to be noticed on a daily basis.
Fact: Dealing with water pressure can be extremely difficult, and that is why submarines are designed specifically to handle the high pressure in deep water.
Is There Air Pressure Inside the Human Body?
Indeed, the human body does have its own internal air pressure. Many bodily structures rely on this pressure, including the ears, lungs, and sinuses, to function normally.
Inhaling causes a rise in intrapulmonary pressure.
When the pressure inside the lungs is raised, the lungs can expand and take in more air.
Similarly, our ability to hear and protect our ears depends on the air pressure within them, which helps regulate the pressure inside your middle ear.
The Pressure Equalization inside the Body
In a process known as equalization, the internal pressure of the body is balanced and brought into harmony with the pressure of the air outside the body.
A few examples of actions that accomplish this goal are yawning, swallowing, and chewing gum.
This means that these areas are often impervious to the discomfort and pressure sensation brought on by variations in air pressure.
Fact: The highest air pressure occurs at ground level because that is where the most air molecules are, and the air pressure drops as you climb up because of fewer air molecules.
Factors Affecting Internal Air Pressure
The body’s internal air pressure can be altered by certain factors like diving or flying at high altitudes.
Rapid variations in atmospheric pressure lead to inadequate equalization of internal pressure, which often leads to discomfort or suffering during these activities.
Therefore, it is vital to maintain constant internal pressure during these activities to not get hurt or feel uncomfortable.
Here is more about these factors:
Changes in Internal Pressure with Changing Altitudes
As one travels to higher altitudes, the air pressure drops and this might have an effect on the body’s internal balance.
Because of these fluctuations in air pressure, residents of high-altitude places may feel pain or pressure in their sinuses, ears, or lungs.
Changes in Internal Pressure in Water
Water pressure increases with depth, which might have an effect on the diver’s blood pressure.
Discomfort or pain in the ears, sinuses, or lungs can occur if the pressure goes out of whack inside your body.
Changes in Internal Pressure When Flying
When flying, the rapid variations in cabin air pressure during takeoff and landing might alter blood pressure.
This can lead to pain or discomfort if the pressure is not balanced.
Air Pressure Changes in Daily Life
If the air pressure around you suddenly shifts, it may be because of a change in the weather.
It could be because of a storm or your changing altitude, if you are flying or rising at a high elevation.
Experiencing shifts in atmospheric pressure has the potential to cause the following problems:
Fullness or pressure in the ears is a common symptom of air pressure changes and can be unpleasant or painful.
It is not uncommon for some people to experience headaches when there are sudden changes in air pressure.
It is extremely common to develop altitude sickness while climbing. In fact, the change in air pressure can cause symptoms like nausea and dizziness.
Other than these issues, you may develop problems like:
All of these lung illnesses can impair a person’s ability to breathe normally by reducing their capacity for lung expansion and contraction.
An Important Consideration
It is vital to equalize the pressure inside the body before diving or flying to avoid discomfort or harm.
Some divers use earplugs or a pressure equalization device (PED) to help them adjust to the change in atmospheric pressure that occurs while descending.
Fact: You may develop an inflammation of the sinuses, known as sinusitis, which can be aggravated by shifts in atmospheric pressure, leading to discomfort and pain.
Why don’t we feel air pressure? We do not feel the weight of air pressure because, as we have seen, there are a number of factors at play.
Because humans are continually surrounded by air pressure, our bodies have adapted to handle variations in atmospheric pressure.
The adaptability of the human body and the compressibility of air further lessen the effect of air pressure on the human body.
While having some effect on our body, air pressure is usually too slight to be noticed.