Climate change is bad for your brain: Here’s why and what to do about it

Do you ever wonder why you feel more tired or forgetful during a heatwave? Recent studies are showing a disturbing link between climate change and the worsening of various brain conditions. 

From strokes and migraines to serious neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, our brains are under assault from rising temperatures and humidity. 

With such dire implications, it’s crucial to understand why this is happening and how we can mitigate the effects.

The heat effect on brain function

Our brains, the master controllers of the body, are finely tuned to operate within specific environmental conditions. Optimal brain function occurs between 20˚C to 26˚C and 20% to 80% humidity—conditions we evolved to thrive in over millennia​​ [1]. 

However, as global temperatures creep beyond these limits due to climate change, our brains struggle to maintain normal operations

Neurons are like tiny, sensitive computers that begin to falter under extreme conditions, affecting everything from our cognitive abilities to our mood [1]​​.

Neurological diseases on the rise

The data is clear: neurological and psychiatric conditions are exacerbated by climate change. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and even psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia see worsened symptoms during unusual heat and humidity [1]​​, [2]​​​​. 

These effects are not just discomforting; they lead to increased hospital admissions, poorer disease management, and even higher mortality rates during heat waves [1].

Coping mechanisms and adaptive strategies

While we can’t reverse climate change overnight, there are immediate steps we can take to protect our brain health. Adjusting our lifestyles to accommodate the new climate realities is essential. 

This includes staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities during peak heat hours, and ensuring our living spaces are cool and well-ventilated.

Health professionals and caregivers also have a role to play by tailoring advice and support for those with heightened vulnerabilities due to neurological conditions. 

Public health systems can adapt by enhancing weather-health alert systems to specifically account for the needs of individuals with such conditions [1]​​.

What can you do?

Taking personal responsibility to reduce your carbon footprint is a step everyone can take towards mitigating climate change. 

Simple actions like reducing car travel, conserving energy, and supporting sustainable practices contribute to larger efforts in combating global warming.

Moreover, staying informed about the potential health impacts of climate change and supporting policies aimed at environmental sustainability can help protect our planet and brains.

The link between climate change and brain health is undeniable and alarming. As our planet continues to warm, it is essential to understand and adjust to these changes to preserve our neurological health.

Taking proactive steps personally and collectively can help shield our brains from the worst effects of a warming world. Let’s work together to ensure our brains and planet remain healthy for generations to come.

[1] https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-linked-to-worsening-brain-diseases-new-study-225704
[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1474442224000875

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