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Extreme heat can cause deadly health problems !!

This is not just a sunburn, we are talking about. Climate change is real people. And few of the deadly effects of the extreme heat can hurt you in the worst ways imaginable.

Taker a look at a few of the ways how extreme hot temperatures can affect your mind and even your respiratory system. A  point to note for all the pregnant women out there, the extreme heat can sometimes even affect both you and your little child. 

Extreme heat and lack of ACs can lead to reduced cognitive performance in adults 

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Extreme heat and lack of ACs can lead to reduced cognitive performance in adults

Researchers have found that students who lived in dormitories without air conditioning facilities during heat waved performed very poorly on cognitive tests compared to students who stayed in air condition dorms.

Extreme heat can have severe consequences for public health and is known to be one of the leading causes of death of all the meteorological phenomena in the US alone. Right now temperatures in the world are rising. The year 2016, had one of the highest recorded heat temperature seen over the past two centuries.  

Researchers carried out a study where they monitored 44 students in their late teens and early 20s living in dorm rooms. Twenty four of the students lived in adjacent six-story buildings that were built in the early 1990s and had centralized AC. The remaining 20 students lived in low rise buildings constructed earlier that did not have air condition. Researchers then equipped each student’s room with a device that recorded the temperature, carbon dioxide levels, humidity and noise levels. They also tracked the student’s physical activity and sleep patterns with wearable devices. 

The study was conducted over a period of 12 consecutive days in the summer of 2016. Initially, the first 5 days consisted of seasonable temperatures followed by a 5-day-long heatwave and finally a 2-day cool climate. The student had to take a cognitive test on their phones each day they woke up.

The first test required students to correctly identify the color of displayed words and was used to evaluate cognitive speed and inhibitory control or the ability to focus on relevant stimuli when irrelevant stimuli were also present.

The second test consisted of basic arithmetic questions which were used to assess cognitive speed and working memory.

The result showed that - 

  • During the heat wave, students in the buildings without the AC performed worse on the test than students in the AC dormitories..
  • The student experienced decreased cognitive function, reaction times and working memory.
  • During the heat wave, students in the buildings without AC experienced 13.4% longer reactions on color ward tests, and 13.3 % lower addition/subtraction test scores compared with students with air-conditioned rooms.
  • Altogether the data showed that students with AC rooms were not just faster in their responses but were also more accurate. 

However, the most significant difference in cognitive function between the two groups was seen during the cooling period, when outdoor temperatures began to subside but indoor temperatures remained elevated in the dormitories without air conditioning.

According to one researcher, in certain regions of the world with predominantly cold climates, buildings were actually designed to retain heat. But now buildings have a hard time shedding heat during hotter summer days created by the changing climate, giving rise to indoor heat waves. 

The research was carried out by Jose Guillermo Cedeno Laurent from the Harvard Chan School.

 Extreme heat, precipitation may be linked to severe asthma !!

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Extreme heat, precipitation may be linked to severe asthma !!

You may want to reconsider walking outdoors on a really hot day especially if you have asthmatic problems. Cos the heat alone can sometimes worsen the condition if you’re not careful.

Researchers have found that extreme heat and heavy rainfall were related to increased risk of hospitalization. Specifically, there was found to be a 23 % increase in the risk of asthma hospitalization when there was an extreme heat event during the summer months. The risk was, even more, higher among 5-17-year-olds. 

Studies conducted in the past have shown that extreme weather conditions have become more common, more intense and last longer in response to the changing climate. And now studies show that an increase in the number of extreme heat and extreme precipitation events, especially during summer months lead to more asthma hospitalizations. 

Findings

  • Recent studies have shown around 430,000 adults 125,000 children have been admitted to a certain hospital only because of asthma.
  • Researchers observed a 23 % increase in the risk of asthma hospitalizations when there was an extreme heat event during the summer months.
  • Risks were found to be more prevalent among 5-17-year-olds.
  • Extreme precipitation events during the summer months increased the risk of asthma hospitalizations by 11 %.

Researchers have also suggested that extreme heat events during summer months may lead to a higher concentration of harmful air pollutants such as ozone which is also known to worsen asthma. Similarly, extreme precipitation events may lead to the release of pollen spores, leading to a severe asthma attack and subsequent hospitalization.

The study was carried out by Dr. Sutyajeet Soneja, a postdoctoral fellow at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and a team of researchers.

Extreme heat linked to climate change can affect pregnancy !!

In a new research study, it was found that pregnant women could be highly vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat caused by climate change!!

One of the researchers has even said how exposure to extreme heat ca harm not just pregnant mothers but also their unborn babies, especially in situations where the expectant mothers have limited access to prenatal care.

Researchers conducted systematic reviews of previous studies to identify how heat-related exposures resulted in adverse effects for pregnant women

The studies further showed evidence that exposure to temperature extremes can adversely affect a pregnant woman in the following ways -

  • Birth outcomes
  • Changes in length of gestation
  • Birth weight
  • Stillbirth
  • And neonatal stress during unusually hot temperatures.

Further studies still need to be carried out regarding the serious effects of climate change and the extreme heat in particular that can affect maternal health and neonatal outcomes. The research also showed that the uniform standards for evaluating the effects of heat ion maternal-fetal health needs to be established.

The study was carried out by Sabrina McCormick, Ph.D. an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the Georgia Washington University and Leeann Kuehn, a recent GW MPH alumna.