Climate Impacts on Human Health

Climate Impacts on Human Health

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Have you wondered why you suddenly feel dizzy, why your joint pain flairs up, or why your eyes are itchy? Those symptoms could be connected to the current weather situation!

The impacts of climate change include warming temperatures, changes in precipitation, and increases in the frequency or intensity of some extreme weather events, and rising sea levels. These impacts threaten our health by affecting the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the weather we experience.

The severity of these health risks will depend on the capability of public health and safety systems to address or prepare for these changing threats, as well as factors such as an individual’s behavior, age, gender, and economic status. Impacts will vary based on where a person lives, how sensitive they are to health threats, how much they are exposed to climate change impacts, and how well they and their community are capable to adapt to change.

Temperature-Related Impacts

Warmer average temperatures will lead to hotter days and more frequent and longer heatwaves. These changes will lead to a rise in heat-related deaths in the United States—reaching as much as thousands to tens of thousands of additional deaths each year by the end of the century during summer months.

These deaths will not be offset by the smaller reduction in cold-related deaths projected in the winter months. However, adaptive responses, such as wider use of air conditioning, are expected to decrease the projected increases in death from extreme heat.

Heat and Sweating

Our bodies naturally cool us by sweating. The capability to sweat depends on the humidity in the air. If it’s dry outside with low humidity, we don’t notice how much we sweat because it can evaporate very quickly. This is when it is essential to drink electrolyte-enhanced beverages to maintain proper hydration. If it’s humid outside, we feel sticky and muggy because our bodies are unable to efficiently sweat and cool our skin.