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Children, pregnant women and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and heat but the impact is already felt across every specialty of medicine
The climate crisis is making people sicker worsening illnesses ranging from seasonal allergies to heart and lung disease.
Children, pregnant people and the elderly are the most at risk from extreme weather and rising heat. But the impact of the climate crisis for patients, doctors and researchers is already being felt across every specialty of medicine, with worse feared to come.
Theres research suggesting that our prescription medications may be causing harm because of changing heat patterns, said Aaron Bernstein, a pediatric hospitalist who is the co-director of the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University.
Theres evidence that extreme weather events are affecting critical medical supplies so we cant do things as we normally would do because IV fluids arent available.
And theres evidence that extreme weather events are knocking out power more and more, and that is a huge issue for providing care in healthcare facilities.
In a recent example,a study in the Journal of the American Medical Associationfound that lung cancer patients undergoing radiation were less likely to survive when hurricane disasters disrupted their treatments.
An August article in the New England Journal of Medicine lays out dozens of similar studies to show how the climate crisis affects each practice of medicine. Renee Salas, a co-author of the report, who teaches emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School said: The climate crisis is impacting not only health for our patients but the way we deliver care and our ability to do our jobs. And thats happening today.
Climate change makes allergies worse.
As temperatures increase, plants produce more pollen for longer periods of time, intensifying the allergy seasons. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can make plants grow more and cause more grass pollen, which causes allergies in about 20% of people. Carbon dioxide can also increase the allergy-causing effects of pollen.