Climate change is leading to more extreme weather and temperatures around the world. This poses various risks for humans. Now researchers have found a connection between climate change and the increase in certain diseases.

For many, summer begins as their favorite season. At the same time, there are more and more heat waves due to climate change. 2023 was the warmest year on record. A British study has now found evidence that climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of many diseases of the nervous system.

The scientists analyzed studies from 1968 and 2013. Data from the USA and Korea show an increased risk of stroke with increasing temperatures and barometric pressure. Mortality also increased as temperatures continued to reach extremes. The exact physical connections are still unclear. But the researchers assume that dehydration and the associated consequences such as thicker blood, electrolyte deficiency and increased cholesterol concentration are responsible.

Older people are particularly at risk because, on the one hand, they already have a higher risk of stroke. On the other hand, they are more susceptible to heat and temperature fluctuations: sweat production decreases with age, the perception of heat becomes weaker, as does the feeling of thirst, which can quickly lead to dehydration.

An increased frequency of migraine attacks among those affected and a greater incidence of migraines in the population are also to be expected due to the extreme weather. The scientists found a similar connection with epilepsy.

“Most epilepsies have features that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, such as: B. sensitivity to sleep deprivation as a trigger for seizures, as sleep is and will be affected by climate change, particularly heat waves.”

Other research results also support the British theses. In a study from the University of California, the research team found a connection between climate change and an increased risk of severe asthma attacks in children. Accordingly, the likelihood of children having to be hospitalized for asthma increased by 19 percent on days with extreme heat.

“We continue to experience increases in global temperatures due to human-caused climate change, and we can expect an increase in health-related problems as we observe longer, more frequent and more severe heat waves,” said Morgan Ye, leader of the study. A better understanding of these heat-related health risks and targeted intervention are therefore extremely important.

Normally people can regulate their body temperature well. However, as soon as the air temperature exceeds the body temperature, the body can only cool itself down by sweating. But if you sweat a lot, you also lose a lot of water and electrolytes. The result is dehydration, which in turn makes regulation through sweat more difficult.

If the body temperature rises, things quickly become dangerous. Typical reactions include:

The latter even means danger to life. The Federal Ministry of Health’s initiative “Gesund.Bund” already declares temperatures above 30 degrees to be potentially hazardous to health. She points out that it is not just the temperature on the thermometer that is important. Air pressure, wind strength and humidity influence the perception of temperature. In extreme cases, this perceived temperature can be up to 15 degrees higher than the air temperature.

The scientists recommend that those affected by these diseases and risk groups in particular adapt their behavior according to the temperatures. The Ministry of Health also advises that you act accordingly during heat waves.

Here are some things to keep in mind in extreme heat:

The scientists write that targeted training of medical staff is also needed for those affected by neurological diseases and risk groups. Politics also has a duty. Even before the 2021 climate conference, there were calls from the health sector to take “measures against catastrophic damage to health caused by climate change”.